Delhi HC: sole authority for divorce on irretrievable breakdown rests with SC
The Family Court granted the husband's divorce petition on grounds of cruelty and desertion while dismissing the wife's counterclaim for restitution of conjugal rights
Setting aside a Family Court's order, the Delhi High Court has said that the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage is not a valid ground for seeking divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
The Family Court granted the husband's divorce petition on grounds of cruelty and desertion while dismissing the wife's counterclaim for restitution of conjugal rights.
A Division Bench of Justices Sanjeev Sachdeva and Vikas Mahajan said that Family Courts must strictly adhere to the statutory provisions when considering divorce cases.
The High Court (HC) also referred to a recent Supreme Court (SC) ruling and clarified that the power to grant divorce on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown of marriage is vested in the SC under Article 142 of the Constitution to ensure justice to both parties.
The Bench stated, "Family Courts have to restrict their considerations to the parameters of the provision of granting divorce strictly in accordance with the Act. Irretrievable breakdown of marriage is not a ground in the Act."
The Family Court had observed that the marriage had broken down beyond repair due to the parties living separately for more than 11 years.
However, the HC found errors in its decision and stated that the husband failed to prove the alleged cruelty, and divorce was granted solely on the basis of the denial of conjugal relations.
The HC noted that such grounds were not available to the husband and that the allegations of denial of conjugal relations lacked specificity.
Furthermore, the HC said that the Family Court had only considered the prolonged separation of the parties as the basis for granting divorce, which was not within its jurisdiction.
The court noted that even the Apex Court, when exercising discretionary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, takes into account various factors, and the duration of separation is just one of them.
Hence, the HC ruled that the Family Court's order granting divorce on the grounds of cruelty and the breakdown of marriage was not sustainable.