Criminal Trident Pack: IPC, CrPC and IEA by Sr. Adv. G.S Shukla and Adv. Raghav Arora
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  • In the case of Rishu Aggarwal vs Mohit Goyal the Delhi HC has held that the denial of conjugal relationship does not amount to ‘exceptional hardship’ or ‘exceptional depravity’ and thus, cannot be a ground for waving of the mandatory cooling period of one year provided under section 14 of the Hindu Marriage Act, in a case of divorce by mutual consent. 
  • The Court observed that once the Parliament, in all its wisdom, has legislated that the denial of cohabitation/conjugal relationship over a period of one year would amount to cruelty, it cannot be said that the denial of sex simpliciter within a period of one year, would be a case of exceptional hardship. 
  • In the instant case, the marriage between the parties was solemnised on 4-4-2021. However, differences cropped up between the parties and from 14-4-2021  the parties were living separately, although in the same house. On 29-7-2021 the wife left her matrimonial home and started living with her family. An MOU was executed between the parties and they decided to amicably part ways by filing a petition for divorce by mutual consent under section 13B and section 14 of HMA. It was alleged that the denial of sex would amount to exceptional harship under section 14 of the Act.
  • The Family Court, however, refused to grant the relief stating that the exception provided under section 14 of HMA was not made out in the present case. The Court had also observed that the leave to file a petition before the expiry of one year is an exception and not a rule. The said provision had been enacted by the Legislature with a particular objective, and the proviso to section 14(1) HMA should be invoked with utmost caution. 
  • The learned Counsel for the appellant had, before the HC, placed reliance on the decision of the Punjab and Haryana HC in Shivani Yadav vs Amit Yadav (2021) wherein the Court had observed that since the couple in question had stayed together for only two days, this is a sufficient ground to allow their application filed under section 14 HMA for waiving off the mandatory period of one year. 
  • Reliance was also placed by the learned Counsel on Ratheesh M. vs Dhanya K.V. (2019) SCC wherein the Kerala HC had observed that denial of sex is a conduct which would fall under the category of exceptional hardship to the other spouse. This order of the family Court was upheld by the HC.
  • The Delhi HC observed that the word ‘exceptional’ means something that is out of the ordinary, which cannot be expected in a general situation or scenario. The non-indugence in sexual intercourse by a married couple owing to temperamental differences, would not be regarded as ‘exceptional’ so as to attract immediate dissolution of the marriage without waiting for the one year period which contemplates an opportunity for reconciliation. 
  • The Court also observed that mere denial of sex cannot be denied as immoral or wicked behavior, or a perverse behaviour lacking in moral decency. It may amount to matrimonial misconduct, but that was not the subject of the present case.
  • Thus, in light of the above observations, the Court rejected the appeal and upheld the decision of the Family Court. The parties were free to approach the appropriate Court after the expiry of one year of separation. 
     
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