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New ground for divorce

delhi Updated: Jun 11, 2010 00:23 IST
Satya Prakash
Satya Prakash
Hindustan Times
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The government has come up with a solution for those “in dire need of divorce”.

The Union cabinet on Thursday approved amendments in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and the Special Marriage Act, 1954, to provide for “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” as a ground for divorce. It approved introduction of the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010 to amend the two acts.

The amendment proposes to save from harassment individuals who file a petition for divorce by mutual consent but the other party wilfully avoids the proceedings to prevent it from reaching its logical conclusion.

Section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act and Section 28 of the Special Marriage Act provide for divorce by mutual consent as a ground for filing a petition for dissolution of marriage.

Under these provisions, on a petition for dissolution of marriage by mutual consent, if not withdrawn before six months after its presentation or not later than 18 months, the court may, on being satisfied after making inquiry, grant decree of divorce by mutual consent.

However, it has been observed that the parties who have filed petition for mutual consent suffer if one of the parties abstains himself/herself from court proceedings and keeps the divorce proceedings inconclusive. This has been causing considerable hardship to the party in dire need of divorce. The amendment seeks to address such concerns.

The amendment is a major shift from fault theory of divorce to breakdown theory as the ground, such as adultery, cruelty, desertion, to another religion, unsoundness of mind and virulent and incurable form of leprosy, communicable venereal disease, etc. under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act and Section 27 of the Special Marriage Act are based on fault theory.