In an order that could make it tougher for separated spouses to remarry, the Bombay high court has held that the lapse of the 30-day period provided for filing an appeal against a decree of divorce does not automatically grant the right to remarry.
"Section 15 (of the Hindu Marriage Act) only decrees that it shall be lawful for either party to marry again under certain circumstances," justice SS Shinde observed, in the order pronounced on August 13. "It does not follow that the right to remarry ensues automatically after expiry of the 30 days from the date of decree of divorce," Shinde said.
According to the Hindu Marriage Act, either partner can appeal against the decree of divorce within 30 days of the order. "If an appeal is presented, one will have to wait for it to be dismissed," he said.
The court was hearing an appeal filed by a Dhule resident, who had married a 22-year-old Anganwadi teacher in May 2003. He approached a court seeking legal separation and the marriage was annulled on September 15, 2009. He then got remarried in February 2010.
His first wife approached the district judge in 2010, challenging the annulment order also filed a plea to condone the delay in filing the appeal. The district judge allowed her plea to be admitted, after which the husband moved the high court on June 23, 2011.
The husband argued that the appeal was not maintainable in view of his second marriage. He further contended that he had accrued the right to remarry, as he had waited for about five months after the annulment of his first marriage. The HC, however, discarded his plea observing that the section merely ordains that legally separated parties can get remarried under certain circumstances.
The judge also took into consideration the fact that the first wife's status and prospects of her remarriage would be affected if her appeal is not decided on. "In such a situation, there will be irreparable loss to the respondent [the wife]," the judge ruled.