Law Commission member Tahir Mahmood on Friday came out in favour of “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” being recognised as a ground for divorce, saying it was a long-pending reform in the matrimonial laws.
Reacting to a recent Supreme Court ruling that a marriage could not be dissolved on the ground of “irretrievable breakdown”, as the law didn’t recognise it as a valid ground for divorce, Mahmood said the Commission had recommended it way back in 1978.
Mahmood told HT, “Statutory recognition of irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a ground for divorce is being pleaded in India since long. The dilly-dallying... is inexplicable.”
He noted that this reform should be incorporated not just into the Hindu Marriage Act, but also in all Acts having similar provisions — Special Marriage Act, 1954; Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939; Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936 and Christian Marriage Act, 1872. “In view of the constitutional stress on gradually effecting uniformity in civil laws, this will be a step in the right direction,” he added.
Dismissing a Hindu husband’s plea for divorce, the SC recently noted that Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 provided for several grounds for divorce. But no such ground of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage was there in the Act. “This court cannot add such a ground to Section 13 of the Act as that would be amending the Act, which is a function of the legislature…” it said.
However, Mahmood said: “Pending legislative action, the courts should employ rule of liberal interpretation to read this very desirable principle in between the lines of the existing provisions of law.”