Divorce possible within year of marriage for ‘hardship’
Despite a specific ban under the Hindu Marriage Act, a spouse can apply for divorce within a year of marriage in case of “exceptional hardship or exceptional depravity,” the Bombay High Court recently ruled.mumbai Updated: Jan 02, 2010 01:07 IST
Despite a specific ban under the Hindu Marriage Act, a spouse can apply for divorce within a year of marriage in case of “exceptional hardship or exceptional depravity,” the Bombay High Court recently ruled.
Section 14 of the Act bars family courts from entertaining any plea for dissolution of a marriage before the end of one year after the marriage.
In this case, a city resident had left her husband’s home within 45 days of the marriage and filed for divorce on the 10th month of the marriage.
Married in April 1998, she had approached Bandra family court for divorce in February 1999.
The court accepted her plea of mental torture at the hands of her husband and in-laws, and dissolved the marriage on the ground of cruelty.
The husband appealed to the high court, where his counsels Sachindra Shetye and Niranjan Mogre contended that the family court could not have entertained the plea filed before the end of one year, as laid out in Section 14.
The division bench comprising Justice S A Bobde and Justice S J Kathawalla, however, ruled that family courts can entertain a plea for divorce “where the petitioner faces exceptional hardship or exceptional depravity at the hands of the respondent.”
The judges — while agreeing that Section 14 is intended to discourage young couples from initiating divorce proceedings on frivolous and irresponsible grounds — also pointed out that it makes exceptions, where a spouse faces exceptional hardship or exceptional depravity.
“It is for the family court to decide as per the circumstances, whether there is a prima facie case of exceptional hardship or depravity,” the judges added.
The Bombay High Court upheld the family court’s conclusion that the conduct of the husband towards the wife amounted to mental cruelty.