The Concept of Hindu marriage as explained by Supreme Court in 1963

Under Hindu Law marriage is a sacrament and it is the religious duty of the father to give his daughter in marriage to a suitable person but if he receives a payment in cash or in kind as a consideration for giving his daughter in marriage he would be converting a sacrament into commercial transaction. Brahma marriage satisfies the said test laid down by hindu Law. But from Vedic times seven other forms of marriage were recognized based on custom and convenience. Asura form is one of the eight forms of marriage. The essence of the said marriage is the sale of a bride for a price and it is one of the unapproved forms of marriage prohibited by Manu for all the four castes of hindu society. The vice of the said marriage lies in the receipt of the price by the bride’s father or other persons entitled to give away the bride as a consideration for the bride. If the amount paid or the ornaments given is not the consideration for taking the bride but only given to the bride or even to the bride’s father out of affection or in token of respect to them or to comply with a traditional or ritualistic form, such payment, does not make the marriage an Asura marriage. There is also nothing in the texts to indicate that the bearing of the expenditure wholly or in part by the bridegroom or his parents is a condition or a criterion of such a marriage, for in such a case the bride’s father or others entitled to give her in marriage do not take any consideration for the marriage, or any way benefit there under. The fact that the bridegroom’s party bears the expenditure may be due to varied circumstances. Prestige, vanity, social custom, the poverty or the disinclination of the bride’s father or some of them may be the reasons for the incurring of expenditure by bridegroom’s father on the marriage but the money so spent is not the price or consideration for the bride. Even in a case where the bride’s father though rich is disinclined to spend a large amount on the marriage functions and allows the bridegroom to incur the whole or part of it, it cannot be said that he has received any consideration or price for the bride. Though in such a case if the bridegroom’s father had not incurred the said expenditure in whole or in part, the bride’s father might have to spend some money on that account such an indirect result could not be described as price or consideration for giving the bride. Shortly stated Asura marriage is a marriage where the bride’s father or any other person entitled to give away the bride takes Sulka or price for giving the bride in marriage. The test is two- fold:there shall not only be benefit to the father, but that benefit shall form a consideration for the sale of the bride. When this element of consideration is absent, such a marriage cannot be described as Asura marriage. [ A. L. V. R. S. T. Veerappa Chettiar Versus S. Michael AND OTHERS AIR 1963 SC 933 : (1963) 2 Suppl. SCR 244 ]

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