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  • Hindu law recognises both non-fault-based (mutual consent, irretrievable breakdown, protracted separation) and fault-based (cruelty, adultery, desertion, conversion) grounds for divorce.
  • Divorce in Hindu Law is governed by the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, which specifies the grounds, processes, and effects of divorce on connected topics.
  • Indian divorce laws have developed as a result of legal precedents, cultural developments, and a more pragmatic view of marriage under Hindu Law.


Divorce is a legal procedure that breaks the marriage's link and gives people the opportunity to live separate lives. Hindu Law, which governs marriages among Hindus, recognises divorce as a way to dissolve a marriage that has irretrievably broken down. For those thinking about or going through the divorce process, it is essential to understand the legal reasons for divorce under Hindu law. Hindu Law includes a number of legal rules and precepts that specify the criteria for a Hindu couple to file for divorce. These grounds—both fault-based and non-fault-based—offer a legal framework for dealing with circumstances in which the marriage has irreparably broken down or in which there are particular factors that support the dissolution of the matrimonial partnership.

People must be aware of the legal reasons for divorce under Hindu law in order to make wise choices regarding their marriage and, if required, to investigate their legal alternatives. Individuals may evaluate the strength of their case, obtain the necessary evidence, and approach the legal procedure with clarity and confidence if they are aware of the grounds for divorce.


Hindu law governs divorce through a system of laws that have evolved and changed significantly through time. The historical background and development of divorce laws in India show the intricate interplay between legislative enactments, personal laws, and religious practises. Hindu law has historically drawn its concepts and regulations from the Vedas, Smritis, and Dharmashastras, among other early Hindu writings. These writings reinforced the sacramental essence of marriage and discouraged divorce by establishing it as a sacred and permanent bond. The dissolution of marriage was therefore seen as a rare and unfavourable event, and divorce was not recognised as a legal remedy.

But as society changed as a result of things like industrialisation, urbanisation, and greater exposure to other cultures, there was an increasing acceptance of the necessity for divorce as a valid legal option. In response, the Indian legal system introduced statutory regulations to control divorce and give people a legal framework within which to seek the dissolution of their marriages.

The enactment of the Hindu Marriage Act in 1955 was the most important turning point in the development of divorce laws in India. With the introduction of this legislation, the traditional idea of marriage as a sacrament for life was challenged, and a contemporary legal system that recognised divorce as a valid way to end an irretrievably broken marriage was established. The Hindu Marriage Act and its later revisions codified a number of divorce-related rules, including the reasons for divorce, the procedure for filing for divorce, and how divorce affects matters like child custody, alimony payments, and property split. There are two main types of reasons for divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act: fault-based and non-fault-based. Cruelty, adultery, desert, and conversion to a different faith are examples of fault-based justifications. According to these reasons, the petitioner must demonstrate that their spouse's actions caused the marriage to end irretrievably.


Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce are causes or behaviours that, in accordance with Hindu Law, can be used as justification for requesting a divorce. Cruelty, infidelity, deserting one's spouse, and conversion to a different faith are some of these grounds. These actions or behaviours are regarded as serious breaches of the marriage contract that cause an irreparable breakdown and support the dissolution of the marriage.

  • Cruelty: Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, according to this clause, a divorce can be requested if one spouse has cruelly treated the other. Cruelty is defined as any action that causes a victim bodily or mental anguish to the point that it is untenable for the victimised spouse to maintain the marriage. Physical, verbal, and emotional abuse, harassment, ongoing humiliation, and threats against the spouse's life or well-being are a few examples of cruelty.
  • Adultery: Section 13(1)(i) of the Act, permits divorce in the event that one spouse has an extramarital affair. Adultery is defined as one spouse willingly participating in a sexual relationship outside of marriage without the other spouse's agreement or knowledge. By betraying trust, creating emotional suffering, and undermining the faithfulness anticipated within the marriage, adultery can have an adverse effect on a marriage.
  • Desertion: Section 13(1)(ib) of the Act, allows for a divorce if one spouse has abandoned the other for a continuous period of at least two years. Desertion is defined as when one spouse leaves the other without a good reason or with the goal of coming back, which causes the marriage to end. Desertion needs evidence of the spouse's desire to desert as well as the absence of permission or a plausible defence.
  • Conversion to Another Religion: Section 13(1)(ii) of the Act, permits divorce in cases where one spouse has converted to a different faith and has ceased to be a Hindu. Without the other spouse's permission, changing one's faith is seen as a major modification to the marriage, which is a ground for divorce.


Non-Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce are situations when a divorce is requested without assigning blame or fault to either spouse. These grounds centre on the parties' mutual agreement to dissolve their marriage and the realisation that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

  • Mutual Consent: Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955: This clause permits divorce by permission of both parties. The voluntarily decision by both spouses to end their marriage and the marital tie is referred to as mutual consent. To dissolve the marriage, both parties must sign a joint petition with the family court indicating their common desire to divorce. If the court is convinced that the consent is sincere and that there was no compulsion or undue influence, it will approve the divorce.
  • Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage: The Hindu Marriage Act does not contain any provisions that specifically address the irretrievable breakup of a marriage, but the Supreme Court of India has recognised it as a legal basis for divorce. Marriage that has irrevocably broken down to the point that reconciliation is impossible is referred to as having an irretrievable breakdown. Courts may take into account the overall situation, protracted marital strife, a lack of emotional intimacy, and the incapacity to carry out marital responsibilities as signs of an irretrievable collapse of marriage.
  • Long Separation Period: According to Section 13(1)(ib) of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, divorce is possible if the couple has been apart for a continuous period of at least two years. A lengthy period of separation is when partners live apart for a protracted period of time without any hope of reunion. Both spouses must have lived apart voluntarily for a continuous length of time without cohabiting or picking up their marriage again.


  • Prem Chandra Pandey v. Savitri Pandey, (2002) 2 SCC 73:

In this instance, the woman requested a divorce on the grounds that her husband had treated her cruelly. According to the court, the husband's cruelty-filled actions, which included both physical and emotional abuse, caused the marriage to end irreparably. This important decision widened the definition of cruelty as a justification for divorce and established a standard for instances involving comparable situations in the future.

  • V. Bhagat v. D. Bhagat, (1994) AIR 720:

In this instance, the husband requested a divorce on the grounds that his wife had committed adultery. The husband's effective proof of the wife's extramarital affair, which constituted adultery and supported the breakup of the marriage, was upheld by the court. This decision confirmed the importance of faithfulness within the framework of the marriage institution and established adultery as a legal basis for divorce.

  • Neelu Kohli v. Naveen Kohli, AIR 2006 SC 1675:

In this instance, the husband requested a divorce on the grounds that his wife had deserted him. The court emphasised that desertion indicates a long-term determination to dissolve the marriage without justification or consent. The decision underlined the significance of showing the spouse's desire to end the marriage and defined the legal standards for proving desertion.

  • Sarla Mudgal v. Union of India, AIR 1995 SC 1531:

This major decision focused on the question of religious conversion as a basis for divorce. The court determined that converting to a different faith without the other spouse's agreement may be viewed as a fundamental modification of the marriage, which would support divorce. The significance of mutual consent and respect for one another's religious convictions in a marriage was highlighted by this case.

Challenges and Controversies:

Due to differing interpretations, cultural expectations, and changing views towards marriage, issues and controversies concerning the grounds for divorce under Hindu law have surfaced. One of the issues is how reasons like cruelty and adultery are defined and used because various courts may have different criteria for establishing these grounds. The need of establishing responsibility or misconduct can sometimes result in protracted and contentious legal disputes, placing financial and emotional hardship on the parties concerned. Another difficulty is that under current legislation, some problems like emotional abuse or irretrievable disintegration of a marriage are not recognised as explicit grounds for divorce. Couples who want to get a divorce on these reasons may find it challenging because of this.

Furthermore, the shame attached to divorce in society might deter people from obtaining legal aid, trapping them in unpleasant or abusive relationships. There have been efforts made to address these issues, such as the adoption of alternate conflict resolution procedures and the legal precedents that recognise irretrievable dissolution of marriage as a basis for divorce. To establish a fair and effective legal system that serves the various needs and situations of people seeking divorce under Hindu Law, more changes and clarifications are necessary.


In conclusion, both fault-based and non-fault-based grounds for divorce are recognised by Hindu Law, ranging from cruelty and adultery to mutual consent and irretrievable breakup of the marriage. These reasons serve as a reflection of the legal framework created by the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, but they also provide difficulties and disagreements in terms of how they should be interpreted and applied. It is essential to assess the current rules governing divorce under Hindu Law and maybe alter them in light of the changing dynamics of society. This would include revising and broadening the grounds to take into account newer concerns such emotional abuse and the acceptance of irretrievable collapse of marriage as a separate basis. 

People may handle the divorce process more effectively by looking at alternative conflict resolution techniques and raising awareness about how crucial it is to seek legal remedies in troubled marriages. To guarantee that those seeking divorce under Hindu Law have access to a just and compassionate procedure that takes into consideration their particular circumstances and supports their well-being, it is ultimately crucial to match the legal system with shifting society factors.

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