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Supreme Court examines self; ‘Are we being too liberal with law in granting divorce?’

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

A bench of Supreme Court has decided to examine whether the top court should grant divorce to couples on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage, without taking into consideration the mandatory 18-month period of separation.

Under Article 142 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has been exercising its authority to grant divorce to married couples even when the Hindu Marriage Act demands the couple to stay apart for 18 months before separating with mutual consent.

The Article 142 states that the Supreme Court has the power to deliver any order required “for doing complete justice.” The court has used this act as a provision to grant divorce in many cases, dispensing the six-month waiting period after a judicial separation of one year, which makes it 18 months under Section 13B of the Act.

As reported in The Indian Express, the government has informed the top court that there is no proposal in the Article to include irretrievable breakdown of marriage as one of the conditions to grant divorce. However, a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana has decided to examine whether judges should override the legislative will. As per the report, while negotiating a bunch of petitions wherein couples wanted the waiting period to be dissolved since there was an “irretrievable breakdown of marriage,” Justices Gogoi and Ramana conjectured on whether they should exercise such power against what the Act permits.

They asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi for his perspective. AG Rohtagi reportedly stated that the legislature was not considering irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a basis for granting divorce.

Rohatgi said that there have been dissenting views of different benches of the apex court between 1996 and 2010, regarding the dissolution of the six-month notice period. While some judges agreed for the relaxation of six-month notice period, the others said if legislature had a specific provision, couples should be sent to family courts for getting divorce .

According to the report, Rohatgi decided to leave it on the constitution bench to decide whether divorce can, at all, be granted on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage and the waiting period should be done away with.

While the bench is waiting to hear the case in August, NewsGram asked general public for their opinions on the subject.

Himanshu Kumar, a working professional, states, “Irretrievable breakdown will be a too flexible law to grant divorces, because the definition for irretrievable varies from person to person. And even a futile situation could be irretrievable for some people. Like, I once read in news where a woman demanded divorce because her husband used to switch off the fan at night. So, instead of making flexible laws, proper & mature counseling should be provided to the couples.”

While Himanshu seems to be against considering irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a ground for divorce, Tanuj Mitra, a Kolkata resident, is of the opposite views. Tanuj states, “What I feel is that granting divorce on grounds of irretrievable breakdown of marriage should be flexible enough and justice should prevail without the mandatory 18-month separation. The top court should override the legislative will irrespective of government proposals. Since it’s a pro-Hindutva government, it will look to preserve the marriage in the set parameters of the Hindu Marriage Act and might not introduce any such legislature. As per my view, the waiting period should be curtailed and the SC should exercise its power on granting absolute justice. Sending the divorce cases to family courts will only leave the case as well as the panel perplexed as human beings are complex individuals.”

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