Can marriage between maternal uncle and niece be a valid marriage in India? - iPleaders (2023)

In this article, Sirmaur Sudhakar ofKiit law school, Bhubaneswar discussesCan marriage between maternal uncle and niece be a valid marriage in India?

Concept of Marriage

The term marriage has been defined by different people in different ways. Even the sociologists are not able to agree on a single meaning. Marriage can be defined as a legally recognized social contract between two people, traditionally based on a sexual relationship and having a permanence of the union. While in creating an inclusive definition, one should also consider variations, such as whether a legal union is required, or whether more than two people can be involved i.e.,polygamy. Some other variations on the definition of marriage might include whether spouses belong to same sex or are of opposite sexes, and how one of the traditional expectations of marriage (to produce children) is understood today.

The relationship between the institution of marriage and the institution of family is of great interest for the sociologists because, marriages are what create a family, and families are the most basic social unit upon which society is built.Marriage and family create status roles that are sanctioned by society.

How is marriage contracted

Different religions have different personal laws pertaining to the marriage. The validity of a Hindu Marriage, registration of Hindu Marriages, Restitution of Conjugal rights, Judicial Separation, Nullity of Marriage, divorce, etc, have been provided under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The Hindus are uniformly governed by one single system of law-the codified portion of Hindu law. The Hindu Marriage Act is included under the Hindu law.

Can marriage between maternal uncle and niece be a valid marriage in India? - iPleaders (2)

The Hindu law recognizes prohibition on the basis of blood relationship, called Sapinda relationship.

What is the ambit of the Hindu Marriage Act

The Act applies

To any person who is Hindu by religion in any of its forms or development, including a virashaiva, a Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prathana or Arya Samaj;

to any person who is a Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh by religion, and

To any person domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion, unless it is proved to any such person would not have been governed by the Hindu law or by any custom or usage as part of that law in respect of any of the matters dealt with herein if this Act had not been passed.

A few important definitions discussed under Section 3 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955-

Custom and Usage– signifies any rule which, having been continuously and uniformally observed for a long time, has obtained the force of law among Hindus in any local area, tribe, community, group or family.

Full blood and half blood– two persons are said to be related to each other by full blood when they are descended from a common ancestor by the same wife and by half blood when they are descended from a common ancestor but by different wives.

Uterine blood– two persons are said to be related to each other by uterine blood when they are descended from a common ancestor but by different husbands.

The marriage in Islam, or Nikah, is not a sacrament as in Hinduism rather it is a civil contract between a man and woman to live as husband and wife. Muslim marriage is also a devotional act I.e., ibadat. The Prophet said that marriage is obligatory for every physically fit Muslim, that marriage is equal to jehad (holy war) and that he who marries completes half his religion, while the other half is completed by leading a righteous life.

The Christian marriage is governed under the Christian Marriage Act, 1872. While the marriage of a christian with a non-christian under the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872 is valid.

For the marriage of Parsi, the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act has been made. A Parsi cannot marry a non-Parsi under Parsi law, though he or she may enter into such a marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

Conditions for a valid marriageUnder Hindu Law

The Hindu Marriage Act has laid down several conditions for a valid marriage:

  • The consent for the marriage should be free.
  • The boy must be at least 21 years old and the girl at least 18 years.
  • Parties should be of sound mind.
  • Neither party should have a spouse living at the time of the marriage.
  • The parties should not be in a prohibited relationship i.e., aunts, cousins, uncles, etc.
  • The parties should not be Sapindas of each other.

Under Muslim law

  • The parties must be of sound mind.
  • Parties should have attained puberty.
  • The girl must have completed 15 years of age and the boy atleast 18 years of age.
  • To qualify for a Muslim marriage both parties must be Muslims.

Under Christian law

  • The Indian Christian Marriage Act applies to marriage between two Christian individuals. The conditions under this Act are almost similar to HMA.
  • Neither person should have a spouse living at the time of marriage.
  • The groom must be at least 21 years of age and the bride at least 18 years.
  • The two parties I.e., the bride and the groom need a licensed person as well as two witnesses.
  • Finally, they need to speak certain words in front of these persons.
  • After this, they will be married couple as per the law.

Under Parsi law

  • The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act Lays down the following conditions:
  • The Parsi traditions have to be followed for the marriage.
  • “Ashirvad” ceremony must take place in the presence of a priest and two Parsi witnesses.
  • Just like the Hindu Marriage Act, no prohibited Relationships.
  • Age requirement is same i.e.,21 for the groom and 18 for the bride.

What is Sapinda relationship and when two persons are said to be Sapinda of each other?

The answer to this question has been discussed under the Section 3 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

The term “Sapinda relationship” with reference to any person extends as far as the third generation(inclusive) in the line of ascent through the mother, and the fifth(inclusive) in the line of ascent through the father, the line being traced upwards in each case from the person concerned, who is to be counted as the first generation.

Two persons are said to be “sapinda” of each other if one is a lineal ascendant of the other within the limits of sapinda relationship, or if they have a common lineal ascendant who is within the limits of sapinda relationship with reference to each of them.

What is “degrees of prohibited relationship”?

It has been defined under the Section 3(g) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

Two persons are said to be within the “degrees of prohibited relationship”-

  • if one is the lineal ascendant of the other; or
  • if one was the wife or husband of a lineal ascendant or descendant of the other; or
  • if one was the wife of the brother or of the father’s or mother’s brother or of the grandfather’s or grandmother’s brother or the other; or
  • if the two are brother and sister, uncle and niece, and and nephew, or children or brother and sister or of two brothers or of two sisters.

What are consanguineous marriages

When one marries biologically related or blood relatives then it is consanguineous marriage.

Types of consanguineous marriage:

1) First cousins- uncle’s son marries auntie’s daughter or vice versa.

2) Maternal uncle marries his niece (sister’s daughter).

What are the problems with the consanguineous marriage

  • Studies showed that consanguinity could increase the incidence of many blinding disorders like leber congenital amaurosis, Usher syndrome etc.
  • It could increase the risk of inheriting any one of the 4968 (autosomal recessive) genetic diseases.
  • It leads to death of infants before, during or immediately after birth, increased incidence of birth defects, increased susceptibility to disease etc.

Can marriage between maternal uncle and niece be a valid marriage in India

Under Hindu law, marriage between prohibited degrees of relationship and sapindas is prohibited. The marriage will be considered as incest if it takes place between relations of sapindas. Therefore, the marriage among Hindus is prohibited but if the customs allows so then it would not be considered as invalid.

Under Muslim law, on account of consanguinity one cannot marry one’s mother or grandmother how high soever, one’s daughter or grand-daughter how low soever, one’s sister, full consanguine or uterine, one’s niece or grand-niece how low soever, or one’s paternal or maternal aunt or great-aunt how high soever.

In the Parsi given the community’s small size and the strict rules about marriage and membership to Parsi community it is not surprising that marriage between uncles and nieces sometimes occur but not nearly as often as they used to be. Such type of marriage is voidable and not totally invalid among them.

The Christian Marriage Act, 1872 says that no certificate of marriage shall be issued if there are any impediments of consanguinity or affinity.Further, section 88 of the Act lays down that ‘Nothing in this Act shall be deemed to validate any marriage which the personal law applicable to either of the parties forbids him or her to enter into’.


In northern India, Hindus have outlawed consanguineous marriage by avoiding the same ‘gotra’ or patrilineal relationship between the probable bride and the groom. Whereas, in southern Indian there are communities which practice consanguineous marriages. The uncle-niece (especially a man and his elder sister’s daughter) marriage exists. The ritual named Maman Kalyanam (uncle niece marriage) remains in practice in Tamil Nadu. The principle involved is that of return-the family that gives a daughter expects one in return, if not now, then in next generation. The effect of such marriages is to bind people together in relatively, tight-knit kin groups. It is not illegal as it is their custom.The legality of Uncle-niece marriages was confirmed in the Hindu Code Bill of 1984. Some Sophisticated South Indians consider uncle-niece marriage outmoded. Because of the consanguineous marriage in Tamil Nadu according to Mohan Kameswaran, senior consultant ENT surgeon, Chennai, six out of 1000 children had hearing loss in the year 2013.


The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936.

The Christian Marriage Act, 1872.

Family law by Paras Diwan.

Can marriage between maternal uncle and niece be a valid marriage in India? - iPleaders (3)


Can maternal uncle and niece marry? ›

An avunculate marriage is a marriage with a parent's sibling or with one's sibling's child—i.e., between an uncle or aunt and their niece or nephew. Such a marriage may occur between biological (consanguine) relatives or between persons related by marriage (affinity).

Is marriage between uncle and niece legal? ›

While all political units prohibit marriage between a person and a sibling, an aunt, or an uncle, their prohibitions vary considerably for other degrees of collateral relationship. The uncle-niece marriage is not prohibited in Georgia and among Jews in Rhode Island.

Can I marry my mother's niece? ›

This relationship comes under the prohibited degree of relations under the Hindu Marriage Act. Legally this wont be recognised, however you can undergo an informal marriage through the local Mandir or Arya Samaj Mandir.

Can I marry my maternal uncles daughter? ›

As per Hindu marriage act you can not marry with your maternal uncle's daughter as she lie in spinda relations with you as she is your sister according to hindu religion.

Is niece and uncle relationship? ›

Aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews

Sticking strictly to biological relationships though, an aunt is your mom or dad's sister, and an uncle is your mom or dad's brother. Your nephew is the son of your brother or sister, and your niece is your brother or sister's daughter.

Can I marry my cousin maternal uncle? ›

No, you cannot because as per Hindu Marriage Act, such relation is regarded in degree of prohibited relationship. Please research on web to know more. As per Indian law you cannot marry within your family or close relative.

Can I marry my aunts niece? ›

You cannot get married to your aunt, as per law. Sir the relationship falls in the prohibited decree of the relations and you cannot marry if there is such religious and customary practice in the area. Under hindu marriage act the prohibited relationship is described as.

What do you call the person married to your niece? ›

Noun. nephew-in-law (plural nephews-in-law) Someone's niece's husband.

What is a niece by marriage called? ›

niece-in-law (plural nieces-in-law)

Can uncle and niece have a baby? ›

Marriages between people who are related is more common than you might think. Unlike what many people think, their offspring are not doomed to birth defects or medical problems. In fact, unless they both carry the same gene mutation, the couple's chance of having a healthy child is almost as high as any other couple.

Is it okay to have a relationship with your niece? ›

Being an aunt or an uncle allows you to participate in a unique relationship with your niece. You have more freedom than their parents do which means that you can form a unique bond. Rather than worrying about their nutrition or their grades, you can choose your own path to forming a strong bond with her.

Can I marry my maternal uncle's wife's sister? ›

You can definitely marry. yes she is not related to you genetically.. they are your aunty and uncle and she happens to be her sister..

What is wife of maternal uncle called? ›


Can I marry my father's maternal uncle's son? ›

Yes obviously you can. because of the theory of agnate of Hindu Marriage Act. which is not applicable in this manner because the the theory of agnate consists of the father 7th generation and the blood relationship is prohibited relationship to marry.

How should a relationship between uncle and niece be? ›

As aunt/uncle and niece/nephew are separated by two generations they are an example of second-degree relationship and are 25% related if related by blood.

Is an uncle related by marriage? ›

Aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews

An aunt or uncle is a sibling of your parent or the person married to your parent's sibling. For example, if your aunt marries a man, he becomes your uncle. If she marries a woman, your aunt's wife becomes your aunt as well.

Can an aunt marry an uncle? ›

That's called an avunculate marriage ie. Any marriage between an uncle /aunt and a niece /nephew . It may refer to a marriage between biological relatives or people related by marriage. It's explicitly illegal in most English speaking countries with the exception of Australia.

Can I marry my mother's cousin in India? ›

It comes under prohibited relationship under Hindu marriage act Hence you can not marry her by law.It comes under prohibited relationship under Hindu marriage act Hence you can not marry her by law.

Can I marry my mother's brother's son? ›

As the relation you are mentioning is within the prohibited degree of relationship for marriage, you cannot marry her as you both are sapindas of each other.

Can a hindu marry his maternal cousin? ›

The position of first cousins under the Special Marriage Act 1954 is in accord with the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 which also does not allow marriage with any first cousin.

Can I marry my aunty? ›

You may not marry your: Grandmother or grandfather. Mother or father. Father's sister (aunt) or brother (uncle)

Can I marry my mother's sister's daughter in Hindu? ›

Yes , you can Marry mother's sister's daughter's daughter who is not under the degree of prohibited relationship as per section 2 (b) of Special Marriage Act. 2. However, you can not marry your mother's sister 's daughter.

What do you call a marriage between relatives? ›

Consanguine marriage is marriage between individuals who are closely related. Though it may involve incest, it implies more than the sexual nature of incest. In a clinical sense, marriage between two family members who are second cousins or closer qualifies as consanguineous marriage.

What are uncles by marriage called? ›

Both meanings commonly used for uncle-in-law are used to define a distinction between someone who is an uncle by marriage (i.e., an in-law) and someone who is an uncle by blood (i.e., a brother of one of your parents).

Can I marry brother's sister's wife? ›

Your brother's wife sister is not a blood relation, so everything should be fine. Hope for no divorces.

Can I marry my sister's daughter? ›

As per law, you cannot marry with your cousin sister as it is prohibited by Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Moreover, an adopted child have same obligations/liabilities as natural born son.

Can I marry my half niece? ›

Yes, it will be legal. Every state will honor each other's states rules about who may marry whom, even if the marriage could not have been performed in the second state.

Can an uncle petition for a niece? ›

Sponsoring Other Family Members

Please note that you cannot file a petition for family members like grandparents, aunts, cousins, nephews, etc.

Can an uncle and niece get a DNA test? ›

Aunt/Uncle (avuncular) DNA testing may be used if the alleged father is unavailable for testing. The alleged father's brother or sister may be tested with the child to determine if there is a biological relationship.

Can an uncle and niece have a DNA test? ›

Uncle testing, also known as Avuncular DNA testing, will establish a biological relationship between an uncle and niece or nephew. The test is available as an appointment at one of our DNA Clinics.

What am I called if my niece has a baby? ›

“The daughter of one's niece or nephew is traditionally referred to as either a grand niece or great niece. Both are widely considered correct, as the child is one additional step removed from the individual in question.

Can uncle and niece marry UK? ›

Throughout the United Kingdom (UK), Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man, the law prohibits certain blood relatives, step relatives and relatives-in-law from getting married or registering as civil partners.

What is it called when your niece has a daughter? ›

grandniece. noun. a daughter of one's nephew or niece; granddaughter of one's brother or sister. Slang.

Is maternal uncle a blood relative? ›

A blood relative includes a parent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, nephew, niece, first cousin, or any of the aforementioned prefixed by "grand", "great-grand", or "great-great-grand."

Can you marry maternal aunt's sister's daughter? ›

Such marriages are unlawful according to Hindu Marriage Act.

Can I marry my mother's brother's daughter in Hindu? ›

Answers (3)

this marriage would be illegal. Its not acceptable by the society even. this marriage would be illegal.

What is mother's uncle called? ›

English speakers use the general term uncle for both mother and father's side; however, you can specify it by "maternal uncle" (mother's side) or "Paternal uncle" (father's side).

Is maternal uncle a mama? ›

The term 'Mama' in English refers to a maternal uncle. Uncle is a common word usually used in the English language to designate any uncle either on your mother's or father's side. However, to be very particular, maternal refers to the mother's side, whereas paternal refers to the father's side.

What relation is my mother's uncle to me? ›

Immediate Family of Ancestors: Your mother's brother is your maternal uncle. Your father's sister is your paternal aunt. Your sibling's child is a niece or nephew.

Can I marry my maternal aunts son? ›

This is incestuous and illegal to say the least. Relation falls under prohibited degree.

What is maternal uncle son called? ›

cousin (plural cousins) The child of a person's uncle or aunt; a first cousin.

Can uncle and niece marry in Islam? ›

Seven relations are prohibited because of consanguinity, i.e. kinship or relationship by blood, viz. mothers, daughters, sisters, paternal aunts, maternal aunts, and nieces (whether sister's or brother's daughters).

What do you call the man who is married to your niece? ›

Noun. nephew-in-law (plural nephews-in-law) Someone's niece's husband.

What is called wife of maternal uncle? ›


Is it legal to marry your aunt or uncle? ›

Consanguinity – blood relationships

You may not marry your: Grandmother or grandfather. Mother or father. Father's sister (aunt) or brother (uncle)

Can I marry my mother's niece in Islam? ›

You cannot marry your mother, grandmother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, niece, great-niece, aunts, or great-aunts. You also cannot marry someone who is also related to you through such relatives. For example, you cannot marry your great granddaughter.

Do South Indians marry their niece? ›

Marriages between cousins and maternal uncles and nieces are very common in some Hindu communities in south India too. In fact, cousin/maternal uncle is the most preferred choice for spouse.

Can I marry my mother's cousin in Hindu? ›

It comes under prohibited relationship under Hindu marriage act Hence you can not marry her by law.It comes under prohibited relationship under Hindu marriage act Hence you can not marry her by law.

Can I marry my sister daughter in India? ›

No you cannot marry her, as your relationship with her falls under the prohibited degree of relationship under the Hindu Marriage Act, and you're marriage with her would be considered as null and void. A.

What do you call the person married to your uncle? ›

aunt-in-law (plural aunts-in-law) (nonstandard) The wife of one's uncle or aunt (parent's sibling). quotations ▼

Is maternal uncle a relative? ›

Maternal uncle is a close relative, but not the main member of the family.

Does maternal uncle comes under blood relation? ›

Maternal side relations means Mother's side relations like Brother, Sister, Nephew, Uncle(Mama), Aunty(Mami), Grandparents(Nana, Nani) etc.

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