In a notable judgement, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court has said that a divorce can be granted on grounds of “irretrievable breakdown of marriage”. The SC held that the mandatory waiting period of six months for divorce through mutual consent can be eliminated, subject to certain conditions. The Supreme Court can dissolve a marriage by invoking Article 142 of the Constitution which provides the Court with discretionary power. This means that the top court can pass a decree or order that is necessary for doing “complete justice” in any matter pending before the court.
Regarding the six-month wait period, the court stated that “The time gap is meant to enable the parties to cogitate, analyse and take a deliberated decision. The object of the cooling-off period is not to stretch the already disintegrated marriage, or to prolong the agony and misery of the parties when there are no chances of the marriage working out. Therefore, once every effort has been made to salvage the marriage and there remains no possibility of reunion and cohabitation, the court is not powerless in enabling the parties to avail a better option, which is to grant the divorce. The waiver is not to be given on mere asking, but on the court being satisfied beyond doubt that the marriage has shattered beyond repair.”
The five-judge bench was led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and also comprised Justices Sanjiv Khanna, AS Oka, Vikram Nath, and JK Maheshwari. The bench also laid out how to balance out equities, specifically with regard to maintenance, alimony, and rights of the children.
While the SC’s judgement of the dissolution of marriage comes as a much-needed one, it has invoked some mixed reactions on social media. Here are a few.
Marriage, though a sacred institution, should not become akin to a prison. If a couple feels that they no longer want to continue their marriage, a six-month waiting period is not going to magically change their minds. These months of waiting just add to the pain of the end of a relationship. This is why the Supreme Court’s decision is a fairly progressive one and one that should be accepted wholeheartedly.
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