Not recognising irretrievable breakdown of marriage as ground for divorce in law making couples suffer: Delhi High Court

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The Delhi High Court observed on Tuesday that because The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 does not identify incompatibility or temperamental differences as grounds for divorce, couples end up warring with each other for years because they have no way of exiting the relationship.

A Bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna noted that marriages under the old Hindu law were considered as sacrament and that there was no concept of divorce.

Even as things changed after the introduction of 1955 Act, grounds for divorce were recognised only on ‘fault theory.’ While many debates have been held to introduce ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage’ as a ground to dissolve a marriage, the same has not met the consent of legislation, the Court observed.

“With the passage of time, experience has shown that many a times, the marriages do not work because of incompatibility and temperamental differences, for which neither party can be blamed. However, since only Fault Theory prevails, these parties end up warring with each other for years to come only because they have no way of exiting this relationship. While many debates have been held to introduce “Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage” as a ground, it has not met the approval and consent of the legislation,” the judgment stated.

Further, courts are bound by limits as defined under the Hindu Marriage Act and “unless the fault of the other spouse is shown, the parties are left to suffer acrimonious relationship with no way to exit,” the Bench said.

The Court made these observations while dealing with an appeal filed by a woman challenging a family court order granting divorce on the ground of cruelty as alleged by her husband.

The Bench noted that the dispute between the couple emanated from disrespect caused to the husband and his family members, and frequent quarrels resulting in various complaints.

When such quarrels persist over a long period of time, it results in mental agony for which there is no solution, the Court added.

“Such prolonged differences made the life of respondent bereft of peace and conjugal relationship which is the bedrock of any matrimonial relationship. Thus, as observed in above judgments, it is evident that this matrimonial relationship rest only on irritations and daily fighting and it can be held that this conduct of appellant became a source of cruelty towards the respondent.”

The Court further noted that the spouses had been living separately for the last 15 years, and this long period of continuous separation means that the matrimonial bond is beyond repair.

“Living together in a marriage is not an irreversible act. But marriage is a tie between two parties and if this tie is not working under any circumstances, we see no purpose in postponing the inevitability of the situation.”

It, therefore, upheld the family court order granting divorce.

Advocates Renu Gupta and Pratiksha Jalan appeared for the appellant wife.

Advocates Meera Kaura Patel and Saket represented the respondent husband.

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