Irretrievable breakdown of marriage in the Hindu Marriage Act

Marriage is the very foundation of the family. It is an institution in the Hindu because marriage is the union of bones with bones, flesh with flesh. But this concept is gradually decreasing with the development of new social and economic trends. However, it is still an institution among the large section of our society.

The marriage subsists when the spouses have a sound understanding and corporate each other to lead a happy married life. If the understanding is missing and conflicts of interest takes place in daily life, then the marriage becomes the endless misery for both. In such condition, divorce is the ultimate remedy to allow them to recreate their life.

Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act provides several grounds of divorce. All the grounds need a desired party to prove the guilt of the opposite party — the whole concept of separation in the Hindu Marriage Act based upon the guilt theory. It is necessary to prove matrimonial offences recognised as the ground of divorce in section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act.

Generally, the enmity develops between the parties when they prove guilt in the course of divorce proceeding. Eventually, this enmity influences the parties to create a lot of hurdles with the sole motive to harass and delay the process.

The guilt theory of divorce is the main reason behind the pendency of a lot of divorce cases before the family courts of India. At the beginning of the case, the spouses are generally ready to get a divorce as soon as possible. The concept of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage could play an essential role at this early stage of the proceeding. Aditionally, when no party falls under the obligation to prove the guilt, the law will also achieve the very purpose of divorce.

Recognition of irretrievable breakdown of marriage

The Supreme Court of India has partially recognised the irretrievable breakdown of marriage in certain conditions. In Naveen Kohli v. Neelu Kohli (2006) 4 SCC 558, the supreme court supported the concept of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

The court expressed its view that when the life of spouses became miserable, they should not be allowed to live together. The dissolution of marriage without proving guilt will serve the purpose of the law.

The Supreme Court has given some conditions in which divorce without proving guilt is possible.

  •  When the spouses are living separately for a long time.
  •  They have no love and affection for each other.
  •  No faith in marriage remains between the spouses.
  •  Their life became so miserable that renders impossible to live together.

With the advancement of socio-economic conditions, adaptation of irretrievable breakdown of marriage is the need of time. The essence of marriage life is to share happiness, everyday life and experience of joy. When the purpose of marriage has destroyed, the separation without proving the guilt would be the best exit policy for the spouses.

Several countries in the world have recognised the irretrievable breakdown of marriage. In the absence of any explicit provision in the Hindu Marriage Act, the supreme court has devised a procedure under article 142 of the Constitution of India. The supreme court could grant the divorce without proof of guilt if their marriage has broken down due to unfortunate circumstances.

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Shivendra Pratap Singh

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