Bhaurao Shankar Lokhande V State of Maharashtra.


Court: Supreme Court of India.

Case Type: Criminal Appeal

Case No.: Criminal Appeal no. 178 of 1963

Citation: 1965 AIR 1564, 1965 SCR (2) 837.

Date of Judgement: 01/02/1965.

Appellant: Bhaurao Shankar Lokhande and Anr.

Respondent: State of Maharashtra and Anr.


Justice Raghubar Dayal.

Justice J.R. Mudholkar.

Justice V. Ramaswami.

Statutes Referred:

Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

Hindu Law.


  • Appellant no.1, Bhaurao Shankar Lokhande, was married to the complainant, Indubai, in 1956.
  • He then married Kamlabai in February 1962. Indubai was still alive during this time.
  • Appellant no.2, Deorao Shankar Lokhande, was the brother of Appellant no.1.
  • The two Appellants, along with Kamlabai, her father and a barber, were tried for an offence under Section 494 of the I.P.C. The Magistrate, however, acquitted the latter three. Appellant no.1 was convicted under Section 494 of the I.P.C., while Appellant no.2 was sentenced for an offence under Section 494 of the I.P.C. read with Section 114 of the I.P.C (abetment of the offence).
  • The Appellants’ appeal to the Sessions Court was dismissed. Their revision petition to the High Court was also dismissed. They ultimately preferred an appeal to the Supreme Court by special leave.

Section 494 I.P.C. reads: “Whoever, having a husband or wife living, marries in any case in which such marriage is void by reason of its taking place during the life of such husband or wife, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.” 


  • Was the marriage between Bhaurao Shankar Lokhande and Kamlabai valid?

The contention by the Appellant:

  • It is necessary in law for the prosecution to establish that the alleged second marriage of Appellant no.1 with Kamlabai in 1962 had been duly performed in accordance with the religious rites applicable to the form of marriage undergone.
  • Essential ceremonies and practices for a valid marriage were not performed when Appellant no.1 and Kamlabai married each other.

The contention by the Respondent:

  • The proceedings of the marriage between Appellant no.1 and Kamlabai were in accordance with customs prevalent in the community of the appellants for the Gandharva form of marriage.
  • The marriage between Appellant no.1 and Kamlabai was valid.
  • For the commission of the offence under Section 494 of the I.P.C., it is not necessary that the second must be a valid marriage under the law. A person going through any form of marriage during the lifetime of his or her spouse from a previous marriage would commit the offence punishable by Section 494.

Obiter Dicta:

  • The expression ‘whoever……marries’ in Section 494 of the I.P.C. must mean ‘whoever marries validly’ or ‘whoever marries and whose marriage is a valid one’.
  • A marriage will be said to be ‘solemnized’ only if it is ‘celebrated and performed with proper ceremonies and due form.’
  • The two essential ceremonies of a Gandharva marriage- (1)invocation before the sacred fire and (2) the bride and the bridegroom jointly taking seven steps in front of the sacred fire (Saptapadi).
  • There was also no evidence to establish that the abrogation of these two important ceremonies of Gandharva marriage was permitted by the customs of the Appellant’s community.


  • Appeal Allowed.
  • The marriage between Appellant No.1 and Kamlabai was invalid.
  • The Appellants were acquitted.


  • If, according to the law applicable to the parties, a marriage is not a valid one, then no question of it being void on the ground that it took place while a spouse of either party from a previous marriage being alive would arise.
  • Merely going through certain ceremonies with the intention that the parties be taken to be married will not make them ceremonies prescribed by law or approved by any established custom.
  • Not performing the two essential rituals of the Gandharva marriage can be excused if it was allowed by the traditions and customs of the community of the parties that are getting married.


  • The mere fact that a man and a woman live together as husband and wife does not give them the status of being husband and wife, even though they may portray themselves as husband and wife, and society may treat them as husband and wife. It is crucial that the necessary and mandatory ceremonies according to the religious beliefs and community practices are performed for a marriage to be valid.

Prepared by Mihir Poojary.

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