Get Complete Information on ‘Sapinda Relationship’ under Hindu Law

The two well known commentaries of ancient Hindu law, namely, the Mitakshara and the Dayabhaga, have given different interpretations of the word ‘Sapinda’ occurring in the Smritis. According to Mitakshara, the word ‘Sapinda’ meant a person connected by the same ‘pinda’ that is, particles of the same body, i.e., a blood relation.

In other words, according to this school, the sapinda relationship arose from ‘community of blood’ or “community of particles of the same body.” The Dayabhaga, on the other hand, maintained that the relationship arose from a “community in the offering of funeral oblations.” Accordingly it meant a person connected by the same pinda i.e., funeral cake.

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In this way, Mitakshara held that the right to inherit arose from propinquity while Dayabhaga held that it arose from the capacity to bestow spiritual benefit on the deceased owner. This difference of opinion in the matter of succession also extended to the law of marriage for the purpose of determining the prohibited degrees of relationship.

Clause (f)(ii) of Section 3 lays down that 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. Thus there are two categories of sapindas according to this clause: (1) a lineal ascendant within the limits of sapinda relationship, and (2) persons having common lineal ascendants within those limits.

The expression “lineal ascendant” and “line of ascent” used in clause (f) would include the lines both of male and female ascendants.

Under the first category the male sapindas woirid be the father, father’s father, father’s father’s father, father’s father’s father’s father, mother’s father, father’s mother’s father, father’s mother’s father’s father, son, son’s son, son’s son’s son, son’s son’s son’s son, and daughter’s son. The female sapindas would include the mother, mother’s mother, father’s mother, father’s father’s mother, father’s father’s father’s mother, father’s mother’s father’s mother, father’s mother’s mother, daughter, daughter’s daughter, son’s daughter, soil’s son’s daughter, and son’s son’s son’s daughter.

Under the second category, two persons are sapindas of each other if their common lineal ascendant is within the limits of sapinda relationship, that is, within the fifth degree through his or her immediate male ascendant and within the third degree through his or her immediate female ascendant.

Computation of Sapinda Relationship:

The rule, as laid down under the Act, for the computation of degrees of Sapinda relationship may be shown by the following diagramatic illustrations:

In both the diagrams, P stands for the propositus (boy) and G stands for girl. P and G cannot marry each other.

In both the illustrations P stand for propositus (boy) and G stands for girl and they cannot marry.

In the above diagram P cannot marry DD2 as they are Sapinda to each other as DD2 is the daughter’s daughter of A’s fifth generation on his father’s side and thus they constitute Sapinda of each other.

Similarly P cannot marry D8 because they both fall in the fifth generation of A from his father’s side.

In the same way SDD4 and P cannot marry as her mother’s father’s father fall within A’s fifth generation from his father’s side.

But in the diagram P and SSSSD can be married as she does not fall within the fifth generation from the father’s side of P. P cannot marry DD4 as she also comes within Sapinda ambit. D’s mother’s father is P’s father’s mother’s father’s father. P cannot marry SD11 as her father’s mother’s father’s father is A’s father’s mother’s father’s father and so they constitute Sapinda of each other.

In the above diagram the marriage of P with D3, D5 and D6 is under consideration. P cannot marry D2 as they are Sapinda to each other. D2‘s mother’s father and P’s father’s father’s father constitute their common ancestor and fall within fifth degree of P’s father’s side and within three degrees of D2‘s mother’s side. But P and D3 can marry each other as she is beyond the third degree from mother’s side of P.

Similarly P and D4 constitute Sapinda of each other and hence they cannot marry. But P can marry D5 because her mother’s father’s father is father of the fifth degree on father’s side as D5 is beyond three degree from mother’s side for which reason they are not Sapinda of each other.

In the same way D6 and P can be married as they are not Sapinda of each other.

The Sapinda relationship as given in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is different from the one contemplated under the ancient Hindu law. In the old Hindu Law as per Mitakshara the bride should not fall within seven degrees from father’s side and five degrees from the mother’s side.

The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, gave a new definition and mode of computation of Sapinda relationship, by virtue of which the Mitakshara and Dayabhaga interpretations have been given up. Under the present Act, the Sapinda relationship is confined to three generations upward from the mother’s side and five degrees upward from father’s side.


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