With a large number of matrimonial disputes flooding the courts across the country, the Supreme Court has expressed concern over the ill effects of "irretrievably broken down marriages" on children.
"When parents fight out their matrimonial disputes, sometimes acrimoniously, the child, who has nothing to do with the fight and is the ultimate victim, watches helplessly," a Bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice SH Kapaia said.
"The fight goes on unmindful of the fact that in future the child carries the tag of being one of a broken family. It is more stigmatic for a girl child.
The stigma becomes more visible when her marriage is thought of in later years. This reality of life is, in most cases, lost sight of," the Bench observed while dealing with divorce case.
The court wondered "whether laws which are really dynamic instruments fashioned by society for the purpose of achieving human relations by elimination of social tensions and conflicts have achieved the intended objectives or are being used as weapons of an assassin to harass and humiliate others instead of being used as a shield against injustice."
The observations came on a petition filed last year by a woman seeking transfer of the divorce case filed by her husband in Mumbai to Chennai. The couple got married in 1994 and had a daughter in 1995.
The wife had demanded Rs 8.5 lakh for the daughter while the husband was ready to shell out Rs seven lakh only.
The court asked the husband to keep Rs five lakh as fixed deposit in a nationalised bank initially for a period of five years with monthly interest withdrawal to meet the educational expenses of the child.
It further asked him to deposit a sum of Rs 3.60 lakh in a private bank in the name of the daughter (represented by the mother as her guardian) for 12 years which upon maturity would be Rs 8.70 lakh with a three-year lock in period.
The apex court directed the husband to file an undertaking before the concerned trial court that in case there is a shortfall in the assured sum, he shall pay the balance amount to the wife.
All the deposit shall be made within a period of six months, it said.
"On the deposit being made...The suit for divorce filed by the respondent (husband) in the Family Court, Chennai.... shall be treated to be a joint petition for divorce, on the basis of mutual consent and appropriate decree shall be passed," the apex court said.
"The allegations made in the petition for divorce shall be treated to be in-consequential in view of the fact that divorce shall be granted on mutual consent," the Bench said