Bombay HC waives cooling off period for divorce in view of woman’s pregnancy
The Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday accepted a Mumbai-based woman’s plea in dissolving her troubled marriage on an urgent basis on the grounds that she was pregnant from some other person, whom she wanted to marry soon, and granted her prayer for waiver of the compulsory six-month cooling-off period before the customary grant of divorce by mutual consent.
The woman got married on August 15, 2014.
However, she had started living separately from December 2018 following a marital discord.
The estranged couple decided to get legally separated by filing for divorce by mutual consent and presented a joint petition under section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, to the family court at Bandra on August 4.
The couple had also filed an application seeking waiver of the six-month cooling-off period, as per section 13B (2) of the Act.
Under section 13B(2) of the Act, a court can grant divorce by mutual consent only after six months and before 18 months of presentation of a joint petition by a married couple.
The wife moved HC after the Bandra court rejected the waiver application on September 9.
At HC, she and her husband pointed out to Justice Nitin Sambre that they were living separately since December 2018 and were leading independent lives.
They also cited that they had decided to get legally separated and had also finalised the consent terms, as they were unable to live together.
The wife’s counsel drew the court’s attention to the fact that the woman was pregnant by another man, whom she wanted to marry soon. As a result, there is urgency in securing the decree of divorce and also the need for waiver of the cooling-off period.
The husband supported her plea for the waiver.
His lawyer submitted that the request was justified since both the man and his estranged wife had led independent lives for over two years and the latter was pregnant and carrying the child of the person she plans to marry.
Justice Sambre accepted the request in view of the 2017 ruling of the Supreme Court (SC) in Amardeep Singh’s case, which had said that the period mentioned in section 13B (2) of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 was not mandatory.
The apex court had ruled that a court is empowered to use its discretionary powers to waive the cooling-off period on a case-by-case basis, especially where there is no possibility of a man and a wife to reunite and there are chances of their alternative rehabilitation.
“In this backdrop, it will be appropriate, particularly having regard to the health condition of the petitioner, to allow the joint application moved for waiving the period as specified under section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955,” said Justice Sambre while granting the prayer for the waiver.
HC also directed the family court to dispose of the divorce petition as expeditiously as possible.