The restitution of conjugal rights is one of the reliefs that are provided to the spouses in distress in the institution of marriage by law. Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) provides for the restitution of the conjugal rights. The section of the Act says:
“When either the husband or the wife has, without reasonable excuse, withdrawn from the society of the other, the aggrieved party may apply, by petition to the District Court, for the restitution of conjugal rights and the court, on being satisfied of the truth of the statements made in such petition and that there is no legal ground why the application should not be granted, may decree restitution of conjugal rights accordingly”.
EXPLANATION: Where a question arises whether there has been reasonable excuse for the withdrawal from the society, the burden of proving reasonable excuse shall be on the person who has withdrawn from the society.
The execution of decree is as per the Rule 32 of Order 21 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908, whereby, if a respondent has failed to obey such a decree, the court may, in the execution of the same, attach the property of the respondent, and if the respondent fails to comply to the decree within a year then the court may even sell the property and award such compensation to the petitioner as it thinks fit. Rule 33 provides another mode of execution in cases where the petitioner is wife and the respondent is husband. In such cases if the decree is not obeyed by the respondent within the specified time, he shall make such periodical payments to the petitioner as the court thinks fit.
The clause for the decree of restitution of conjugal rights is also found in the Special Marriage Act of 1954, the Parsi Marriage Act of 1936, and the Indian Divorce Act of 1869.
The fundamental rule of matrimonial law that one spouse is at liberty to the society and comfort of the other spouse, forms the foundation of the right to bring a suit for the restitution of conjugal rights. The court has the duty of granting a decree for restitution in the cases where either spouse has abandoned or withdrawn from the society of the other.
One of the important implications of section 9 is that it provides an opportunity to an aggrieved party to apply for maintenance under s 25. Maintenance can also be obtained by the party in case when the action is pending under s 24. Hence, a wife who doesn’t want a judicial separation or disruption of marriage can attain maintenance from her husband without filing a suit for the same under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956. Another important implication of the section is that it provides a ground for divorce under s 13(1A) on a condition that there has been no restitution of conjugal rights between them for a period of one year or more after the passing of a decree for restitution of conjugal rights