Case Study: Pinninti Venkataramana And Anr. v. State

By Rituraj Swami 10 Minutes Read

Citations:  AIR 1977 AP 43, I.L.R (1976) AP 837

Date of Judgement: 9th August,1976

Bench: J. B Divan, J. A. Kuppaswami Muktadar


  • A wife filed a complaint in the court of the First-Class Judicial Magistrate against her husband (Petitioner No. 1) and ten others, alleging that her husband had committed an offence punishable under Sec 494 of the IPC and that the other ten accused(s) had committed an offence punishable under Sec 494 read with Sec 109 of IPC as they were party to it.
  • The husband took the defense that at the time of the marriage, in 1959, he was 13 years of age and the complainant wife was 9 years of age, and hence the marriage between them was a void marriage and no marriage in the eyes of law. Thus, he contended that he had not committed any offence under Sec 494 of IPC by marrying another girl.
  • The First- Class Judicial Magistrate, held that the marriage was legal and an offence was committed by him marrying a girl again and so convicted the husband and others.
  • The accused(s) then filed an appeal, and the appellate court confirmed the convictions of both the petitioners but modified their sentences to that of payment of Rs. 200/- and in default of payment of fine, each of the petitioners was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for one month. Against their convictions and sentences, the petitioners applied for revision to the High Court.
  • The husband placed his reliance on the judgment of the Division Bench of the same Court in P.A. Saramma v. Ganapatulu[1]. In that case, the Division bench has held that a marriage, which is in contravention of Section 5(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is void ab initio and is no marriage in the eye of law. Thus, the matter for revision of the Saramma case was brought to the Full Bench for its reconsideration, along with the appeal of petitioners’ conviction.


  • Whether a marriage in contravention of section 5(iii) of Hindu Marriage Act void ab initio?
  • Whether the judgment rendered by the court in P.A. Saramma v. Ganapatulu (1975) valid?


  • The Full Bench held that the view taken in the case of P.A. Saramma v. Ganapatulu[2] is not in accordance with provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 and the repercussions of accepting the view of the Division Bench would be very serious.
  • The court observed that It is a well-settled principle of the law relating to marriages that the court should lean against the interpretation of any provision of law which is liable to render innocent children of the marriage as bastards”. This aspect was not kept in mind while the Division Bench was pronouncing its judgment, which could have proved to be fatal in the long run.
  • Also, the Full Bench stressed that Sec 11 & 12 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 does not define what is to happen if Sec 5(iii) is contravened. The only punishment provided is in Sec 18 of the said act. The contravention of Sec 5 (iii) of the Act does not admittedly find anything mentioned in any of these sections.
  • The doctrine of factum valet i.e., a fact cannot be altered by thousand facts was applicable to the present case as the marriage of a minor was that the factum of marriage, which as solemnized could not be undone by reason of a large number of legal prohibitions to the contrary.
  • The court also pointed out that the Child Marriage Restraints Act, 1929 gives punishments to people who are found guilty under it, but does not render the marriage itself void or null, though in force before the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The court relied upon the decision of Sivanandy v. Bhagawathyamma[3], where it was held that a child marriage though prohibited by Child Marriage Restraint Act is not rendered invalid by any provision therein and that the contraventions of the provisions of that Act does not render the marriage invalid as the validity of the marriage is a subject beyond the scope of the Act.

Key Takeaways

  • Whether a marriage in contravention of section 5(iii) of Hindu Marriage Act void ab initio?


The court held that section 11 & 12 of the Hindu Marriage Act contemplates that if any marriage is done in violation of section 5(i),(iv),(v) would Ipso Facto render the marriage void, whereas violation of section 5(ii) renders the marriage voidable and section 5(vi) renders marriage voidable and be annulled when the consent obtained from the minor girl guardian was by fraud or force.

The court referred to the case of Mt. Kalawati v. Devi Ram[4], where the Judicial Commissioner of Himachal Pradesh held that the minority of the wife or of her guardian in marriage is by itself, not a ground for getting it declared null and void, under section 11 or for its annulment under section 12 there it could not be said that the Legislature was oblivious and had inadvertently omitted to provide for the avoidance of marriage on that ground of minority of the bride and her guardian in marriage: that the omission was deliberate and that it is not for the Courts to scan the wisdom of the legislature and speculate on the reasons which led the legislature to make or not to make certain provisions. Therefore, the Legislature has not provided a clear picture with regard to violation of Sec 5 (iii), apart from Sec 18 which indicates for punishments, if Sec 5(iii), (iv), (v), (vi) are violated.

  • Whether the judgement rendered by the court in P.A. Saramma v. Ganapatulu (1975) valid?


The court took into consideration the case of Gindan v. Barela[5], the Division Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court held that a marriage solemnized in contravention of age mentioned in section 5(iii) neither void ab initio nor even voidable; that such violation of section 5 (iii) does not find place either in section 11 or 12 of the Act; that it is only punishable as an offence under section 18 and the marriage solemnized would remain valid, enforceable, and recognizable in Courts of law.

The court took into account the adversaries which would arise due to the judgment rendered and would be difficult for the children born out of such marriages to be termed legitimate despite the fact that Sec 11 & 12 recognizes such children legitimate. If the decision of Saramma is taken into account then it would term the children as bastardized children and if a decree of nullity is granted in respect of marriages under section 11&12 then innocent children would be called illegitimate one’s.

The Court also referred to the Marriage Laws (Amendment)Act 1976 by which clause (iv) was added to Sec 13(2) of Hindu Marriage Act 1955 which empowers a wife to present a petition for dissolution of her marriage by a decree of divorce on the ground that her marriage (whether consummated or not) was solemnized before she attained the age of fifteen years and she has repudiated the marriage after attaining that age but before attaining the age of eighteen years.

[1] AIR 1975 AP 193.

[2] Ibid.

[3] AIR 1964 Mad 237.

[4] AIR 1961 HP 7.

[5] AIR 1976 MP 83.

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