Published On: 15th February, 2024

Authored By: Raaj Shekhar Mohapatra
Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad


Case Name: 

Yuvraj Digvijay Singh vs. Yuvrani Pratap Kumari


1969 SCC (2) 279

Name of Court: 

Supreme Court of India

Date of Judgement: 

May 2, 1969

Judge(s) / Bench: 

Hon’ble Mr. Justice C.A. Vaidyialingam

Hon’ble Mr. Justice J.C. Shah


Marriage, a sacred tapestry woven with threads of procreation, companionship, and societal duty, can sometimes reveal knotty imperfections amidst its beauty. One such imperfection, the contested terrain of “impotency,” took center stage in the landmark case of Digvijay Singh vs. Yuvrani Pratap Kumari[1]. This judgment, far from mere case law, became a turning point, reshaping the very contours of Hindu personal law. Beyond the individual fate of the parties involved, Digvijay Singh’s significance lies in its profound influence on legal proceedings in the years to come. This commentary delves into the meticulous unraveling of this judgment, examining its impact on key legal principles and shaping future perspectives on annulment.

Digvijay Singh’s quest for annulment from Yuvrani Pratap Kumari, anchored on her alleged impotency, traversed a serpentine legal path in 1960s India. Initially, the Delhi District Court, interpreting “incurable” impotency, dismissed his petition, finding insufficient evidence. Undeterred, Digvijay Singh appealed to the Punjab and Haryana High Court. This time, the Shakuntala Devi[2] case shaped the narrative, focusing on the timing of impotency. However, despite acknowledging Yuvrani’s possible impotency at the time of marriage, the High Court held the petitioner’s subsequent cohabitation as casting doubt on his claim, upholding the lower court’s dismissal. It was only upon reaching the Supreme Court that this complex knot would finally be unraveled, setting a precedent that would reshape the landscape of annulment grounds within Hindu law.


Navigating the intricacies of Hindu marriage law, particularly on sensitive grounds like impotency, is no easy feat. Unraveling this complexity demands a keen understanding of how legal interpretations have evolved over time, paving the way for landmark judgments like Digvijay Singh vs. Yuvrani Pratap Kumari. To fully appreciate the court’s reasoning in Digvijay Singh, we must rewind to the pre-existing legal landscape.

Prior to this judgment, annulment based on impotency was shrouded in ambiguities, with differing judicial interpretations casting long shadows. The Bombay High Court held that only incurable impotency at the time of marriage constitutes a ground for annulment. This, however, left the question of what constitutes “incurable” open to interpretation, creating uncertainty and inconsistency in legal proceedings. Then came the pivotal case of Shakuntala Devi v. Shiv Kumar[3] in 1960. Here, the Allahabad High Court redefined the definition of “impotency,” broadening it to include not just physical incapacity but also psychological limitations hindering consummation. This marked a significant shift, in recognizing the emotional dimensions of intimacy within marriage. Yet, questions still lingered regarding the precise timeframe within which impotency needs to be present for annulment to be granted.

It was against this backdrop, a tapestry woven with conflicting interpretations and unresolved questions, that the Digvijay Singh case emerged. By delving into its specific facts and legal arguments, we stand ready to witness a watershed moment in the realm of annulment under Hindu law. This judgment didn’t just address a single case; it reshaped the very contours of legal discourse, providing clarity and guidance for future generations grappling with the intricacies of marriage and its dissolution within the Hindu context.


The labyrinthine alleys of Hindu law surrounding annulment based on impotency witnessed a transformative moment with the Supreme Court’s judgment in Digvijay Singh vs. Yuvrani Pratap Kumari. This case stands as a testament to the court’s willingness to navigate these complexities, offering a roadmap for navigating this sensitive issue and upholding individual rights within the context of evolving societal realities.

Prior interpretations, clung to restrictive notions of “incurable” impotency, leaving individuals trapped in unfulfilling marriages devoid of true intimacy. Digvijay Singh makes a bold departure from this, recognizing the validity of temporary impotency at the time of marriage as sufficient grounds for annulment. This shift aligns with a more holistic understanding of marital intimacy, one that acknowledges both physical and psychological dimensions. It celebrates the multifaceted nature of marriage and champions the individual right to a fulfilling union.

The court’s reasoning is far from a monolithic pronouncement. It engages in a nuanced dialogue with existing precedents, respecting the echoes of Shakuntala Devi in its acknowledgment of timing’s importance. However, it does not hesitate to break free from rigid interpretations, adapting to the changing tides of public opinion and societal context. This adaptability paves the way for a legal discourse that breathes with the times, constantly evolving to meet the needs of a dynamic society.

The court further strengthens its position by demonstrably engaging with evidence and arguments. Medical reports are not the sole arbiters; they are carefully weighed alongside psychological evaluations and personal testimonies. This comprehensive approach acknowledges the impact of both physical and psychological factors on sexual intimacy, challenging the historical privileging of one over the other. Additionally, the court confronts counterarguments head-on, addressing issues like cohabitation and delayed claims with transparency and fairness. This builds trust and ensures the judgment rests on a firm foundation of factual and legal considerations.

Digvijay Singh’s consequences extend beyond the individual case. It sets a new precedent, offering clarity and guidance to legal professionals navigating the annulment terrain. The ambiguity of past interpretations is replaced with a framework that prioritizes individual well-being and happiness. Furthermore, the judgment invites further exploration of alternative perspectives, paving the way for a more inclusive and progressive legal interpretation. Examining cultural nuances in understanding impotency or its impact on different social groups could enrich future legal discourse and ensure justice reaches all corners of society. However, acknowledging limitations is crucial. The complexities of diagnosis and the potential for abuse demand ongoing vigilance and critical reflection.

Despite these limitations, Digvijay Singh remains a beacon of legal evolution, a testament to the judiciary’s commitment to adapting and reshaping legal discourse for a just and nuanced framework for annulment under Hindu law. This case is not the end of the story, but rather the beginning of a new chapter, one where the law takes a vital step towards recognizing the multifaceted nature of marriage and the individual right to a fulfilling union within its sacred embrace.


The intricate tapestry of Hindu annulment law saw a transformative stitch in Digvijay Singh vs. Yuvrani Pratap Kumari. Beyond declaring the court’s decision right or wrong, this judgment unravels the limitations of the past and offers a new, vibrant thread in the evolving landscape of impotency as grounds for annulment. The shift is profound. Digvijay Singh recognizes temporary impotency at the time of marriage as sufficient, moving away from “incurable” interpretations that disregard individual well-being and the multifaceted nature of marital intimacy. This inclusivity embraces both physical and psychological dimensions, resonating with evolving societal realities. However, this new thread doesn’t stand alone. It intertwines with past precedents like Shakuntala Devi, echoing its emphasis on timing and ensuring continuity while paving the way for adaptation. Furthermore, the court’s meticulous engagement with evidence and counter-arguments, from medical reports to cohabitation, strengthens the fabric of its reasoning and lays the groundwork for future legal discourse.

Despite the brilliance of this new weave, threads of caution remain. The complexities of diagnosis and potential for misuse demand a watchful eye and ongoing critical reflection. This vigilance shouldn’t diminish the judgment’s impact, however. Digvijay Singh stands as a landmark of legal evolution, reshaping the annulment framework with both fairness and nuance.

In conclusion, this judgment is not a final stroke, but a vibrant thread woven into the ongoing tapestry of progress. It honors the sacred embrace of marriage while acknowledging the individual right to a fulfilling union within its bounds. Digvijay Singh reminds us that the law, like society itself, is a dynamic tapestry, forever evolving to weave justice, understanding, and individual happiness into its very core.


[1] Digvijay Singh vs. Yuvrani Pratap Kumari, 1969 SCC (2) 279.

[2] Shakuntala Devi v. Shiv Kumar, [1960] All LJ 409.

[3] Ibid.

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