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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The Hindu Marriage Act allows either party to divorce on the grounds of unhappiness or if the marriage is no longer tenable.
  • A divorce petition can normally only be submitted one year from the date of registration of marriage. However, in some situations of petitioner suffering or respondent’s mental instability, a court may allow a petition to be filed sooner than one year.
  • A divorce petition cannot be filed within the first year of marriage, according to Section 14.
  • Section 14 of the Hindu Marriage Act creates a window for reconsideration and reconciliation, recognising that temperamental differences between the couples can be worked out over time and should not be used as a justification to end the marriage.
  • In Rishu Aggarwal vs Mohit Goyal [MAT.APP. (F.C.) 110/2021 &CM APPL. 41458/2021], the Division Bench of Vipin Sanghi, ACJ, and Jasmeet Singh, J., noted that Section 14 of the Hindu Marriage Act aims to discourage couples from breaking the sacred bond of marriage in haste, and held that a mandatory one-year period provided under Section 14 of the Act encourages couples to cool down and reconsider their marriage.

INTRODUCTION

A wedding in India is the most important event in a family's life, evoking every social obligation, kindred link, traditional value, passionate sentiment, and economic resource. The intricate variations of Indian social structures are best displayed in the planning and execution of weddings.

In India, almost everyone considers marriage to be necessary. Marriage is a major turning point in a person's life, marking the beginning of adulthood. In general, this shift, like everything else in India, is the outcome of many people's efforts rather than individual willpower. Even as one is born into a certain family without having any say in the matter, one is also assigned a spouse without having any say in the matter.

Organizing a wedding is a major job for both the bride and groom's parents and other relatives. Marriage unions entail some wealth redistribution, as well as the formation and restructuring of social realignments, and, of course, the biological reproduction of families.

In terms of Hindu kinship and marriage patterns, India is divided into two broad regions, the north and the south. Various ethnic and tribal groups in the central, mountainous north, and eastern regions also practise a range of other customs. The Hindu Marriage Act instructs Hindus on how to form a systematic marriage bond. It gives marriage meaning, cohabiting privileges for both the bride and groom and a sense of security for their family and children, allowing them to be free of parental concerns.

SECTION 14 OF THE HINDU MARRIAGE ACT

A divorce petition cannot be filed within the first year of marriage, according to Section 14. As a result, one year could be viewed as the time allotted by the law to solve, sort, understand, and communicate difficulties with one another. As a result, no court has the authority to hear a divorce petition unless a one-year period has passed. In the event of exceptional hardship to the petitioner or great depravity on the part of the respondent, the Court may enable the petition to be presented after receiving an application in line with the High Court's rules. However, if the court determines, after hearing the petition, that there has been a distortion of facts or concealment of the nature of the matter, the court may dismiss the petition without prejudice.

Section 14 of the Hindu Marriage Act creates a window for reconsideration and reconciliation, recognising that temperamental differences between the couples can be worked out over time and should not be used as a justification to end the marriage.

In denying an application under this section for leave to file a divorce petition before the expiration of one year from the date of the marriage, the court must consider the interests of any children from the marriage, as well as whether there is a reasonable chance of the parties reaching an agreement before the said one year expires.

According to Section 14, no petition for divorce may be filed with the court before a year has passed after the date of the marriage. The condition imposed by Section 14 could only be eased on two grounds:

  • There is exceptional hardship.
  • There is exceptional depravity.

RELATED CASES

Amardeep Singh v. Harveen Kaur[ (2017) 8 SCC 746]

The question was whether the six-month waiting period required by Section 13B(2) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for a motion to pass a decree of divorce based on mutual consent is mandatory or can be waived in extraordinary circumstances. The Apex Court observed that the period mentioned in Section 13B(2) is not mandatory but advisory and the same would be open for the Court’s exercise of its discretion in the view of the facts and circumstances of each case where theparties do not have any possibilities ofresuming cohabitation and there are chances of alternative rehabilitation.

While dealing with a matter when the court is satisfied that a case is made out to waive the statutory period under Section 13B(2),it can do so after considering the following:

i. “The statutory period of six months specified in Section 13B(2), in addition to the statutory period of one year under Section 13B(1) of separation of parties is already over before the first motion itself”

ii. “All efforts for mediation/conciliation including efforts in terms of Order XXXIIA Rule 3 CPC/Section 23(2) of the Act/Section 9 of the Family Courts Act to reunite the parties have failed and there is no likelihood of success in that direction by any further efforts”

iii. “The parties have genuinely settled their differences including alimony, custody of child or any other pending issues between the parties”

iv. “The waiting period will only prolong their agony”

The waiver application can be filed one week after the first motion citing reasons for the prayer for waiver and the aforesaid conditions are required to be met, the waiver of the waiting period for the second petition would be at the discretion of the competent Court.

Sankalp Singh v. Prarthana Chandra[2013 SCC OnLine Del 855]

In this case, the High Court of Delhi declared that in certain situations of unusual hardship or depravity on the part of the Respondent, the courts may allow a petition to be filed before the one-year anniversary of the marriage. However, it is critical for the parties to demonstrate that their mutual consent was not obtained through coercion, insinuation, or undue influence. It is also critical to demonstrate that there are no prospects for reconciliation and that the parties have fully comprehended the consequences of their choice.

LATEST JUDGEMENT

Rishu Aggarwal vs Mohit Goyal MAT.APP. (F.C.) 110/2021 &CM APPL. 41458/2021

The Division Bench of Vipin Sanghi, ACJ, and Jasmeet Singh, J., noted that Section 14 of the Hindu Marriage Act aims to discourage couples from breaking the sacred bond of marriage in haste, and held that a mandatory one-year period provided under Section 14 of the Act encourages couples to cool down and reconsider their marriage.

The present appeal was filed under Section 19 of the Family Courts Act, 1984, by the appellant/wife in order to quash and set aside the Family Court's ruling.The divorce petition filed by the appellant/wife and petitioner/husband under Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for dissolution of marriage by mutual consent was dismissed by the Family Court in the impugned Judgement.

The appellant and respondent had no children born out of wedlock and barely lived together as husband and wife. It was also reported that the parties began living apart due to temperamental issues. The parties had filed a petition under Section 13B (1) of the Act, as well as an application for leave to bring the petition before the one-year cooling-off period had expired, under the proviso to Section 14 of the Act.The Appellants attempted to meet the requirements of Section 14's proviso by claiming that both parties denied intercourse, resulting in a scenario of "extraordinary hardship" and "extreme depravity."

Section 13B (1) of the Family Code gives parties the option of getting a divorce based on mutual consent if three conditions/grounds are met:

I. The parties have been living separately for at least a year; they are unable to live together; and they have mutually agreed that the marriage should be dissolved.

II. The first requirement establishes the time limit for filing the petition. Furthermore, Section 13B (2) stipulates that another 6-month period must elapse before the second motion can begin.

III. The period indicated in sub-section (2), however, is not a point of contention in this case.

In this case, the point of contention was the one-year time provided in sub-section (1). Using the proviso to Section 14 of the Act, the appellant requested a waiver of the said period.

Section 14 of the Hindu Marriage Act creates a window for reconsideration and reconciliation, recognising that temperamental differences between the couples can be worked out over time and should not be used as a justification to end the marriage. The necessary one-year time provided under Section 14 of the Act encourages couples to cool down and reconsider their marriage, according to the High Court.

In addition to the foregoing, the Court stated that the Section 14 clause applies to divorce petitions filed under Section 13 and Section 13B.

The issue raised before the Court was whether it was possible that a married couple's refusal to engage in sexual activity because of a temperamental difference could be deemed "extraordinary" enough to result in the quick dissolution of the marriage, without even waiting a year for a chance to reconcile. In response to the same, the Court stated that if a married couple has significant, temporal, or behavioural challenges, it is reasonable to assume that they will not be able to sustain a good conjugal relationship.

A simple incompatible marriage, or one with irreconcilable disagreements due to temporal or behavioural disparities, would not, in and of itself, result in either party causing extreme depravity to the other. A simple refusal of sex by one or both parties to the other cannot be considered an act of extraordinary depravity.

Although the denial of sex by one spouse to the other, or by both of them to each other, can be considered "hardship" but not "extreme hardship" under Section 14(1) of the HMA. The High Court ruled that denial of cohabitation in a marriage cannot be considered "exceptional hardship" or "extraordinary depravity," and so could not justify the waiver of a one-year required time period that must be granted as an exception rather than a rule.

Furthermore, the Court stated that denial of a conjugal relationship or non-consummation owing to temperamental/behavioural differences can only be grounds for divorce if done with cruelty. As a result, the appeal was dismissed, and the Family Court's decision was upheld.

CONCLUSION

The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 contains a number of divorce provisions. "Divorce is a Dissolution of Marriage," according to the Hindu Marriage Act. Fault Theory, Mutual Consent Concept, and Irretrievable Theory are the three primary theories about divorce and when it comes to divorce in India, the Fault Theory is effective. Marriage can be terminated under this idea if one of the spouses is accountable or liable for a matrimonial offence. Divorce is an option for the innocent spouse. Adultery, Desertion, Conversion, Leprosy, Cruelty, and other causes are listed in the Hindu Marriage Act as grounds for divorce for Hindu women. Many philosophers, however, are critical of the concept of divorce. Under section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, Hindu married women can also apply for maintenance. As a result, the spouse who is innocent might go to court and ask for a divorce.

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