The Supreme Court of India’s ruling on divorce is a welcome step towards making divorce more accessible and humane for couples. The Court’s decision to grant a divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage, even when one of the spouses opposes it, is a significant recognition of the reality of many marriages that have broken down beyond repair.
The Court’s judgment also acknowledges the importance of doing “complete justice” to both parties in divorce. This includes considering factors such as the welfare of any minor children involved and both spouses’ financial and emotional needs.
The ruling is also likely to impact the stigma associated with divorce in India positively. In a society where marriage is still often seen as a sacred bond, divorce can be a difficult and isolating experience. The Court’s ruling conveys that divorce is a normal part of life and not a sign of failure.
Invoking the “guiding spirit” of Article 142(1) of the Constitution, the Constitution Bench declared its ability to grant divorce by mutual consent to couples trapped in bitter marriages. This article empowers the Court to “do complete justice” in any “cause or matter,” it is this discretionary power that the Bench has determined to use to grant such divorces. This decision, a manifestation of extraordinary judicial discretion, signifies the Court’s commitment to upholding the rights and well-being of individuals, even when societal norms or individual opposition might suggest otherwise. It further emphasizes the importance of justice and humanity in the face of personal strife and discord.
The Supreme Court of India, led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, has made a significant ruling to make the divorce process easier and faster for couples. Currently, Indian law requires couples to wait for six to 18 months for a local court to grant them a divorce, following the rules of the Hindu Marriage Act from 1955.
The Supreme Court, in its decision, criticized the existing divorce laws, which often focus on assigning blame to failed marriages. Instead, the Court argued that when a marriage is beyond repair, and both parties agree, everyone should acknowledge this reality rather than insist on maintaining the ‘married’ status. The Court believes that if a marriage is broken and there’s no hope of fixing it, it’s in the public’s best interest to let the couple divorce quickly.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court stated that it could use Article 142, a legal provision, to stop ongoing criminal or legal cases related to issues like domestic violence or dowry against the husband or the wife. This means the Court can intervene and resolve these legal problems to ensure a smoother divorce process.
Continuing with this line of thinking, the Court also mentioned that it could grant divorces based on the idea of an “irretrievable breakdown of marriage.” In simple terms, if a couple can no longer live together as a married couple and the damage to their relationship is beyond repair, the Court can cause them a divorce. This is an important change because, under the Hindu Marriage Act, the concept of an “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” wasn’t previously accepted as a valid reason for divorce.