To make divorce easier under the Hindu Marriage Act and the Special Marriage Act, the Union Cabinet on Thursday cleared amendments for introduction of ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage' as an additional ground. The amendment will enable either the husband or wife to seek divorce on this ground.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told journalists that the “new Bill would provide safeguards to parties to marriage who file petition for grant of divorce by consent from the harassment in court if any of the party does not come to the court or wilfully avoids the court to keep the divorce proceedings inconclusive.”
Based on the recommendations of the Law Commission as well as the Supreme Court, the clause on ‘irretrievable breakdown' will be in addition to the existing grounds for divorce that include adultery, cruelty, desertion, conversion to another religion, unsoundness of mind, virulent and incurable form of leprosy, venereal disease in a communicable form, renouncement of the world and not heard as being alive for a period of seven years.
Ms. Soni said Section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act and Section 28 of the Special Marriage Act provide for divorce by mutual consent as a ground for presenting a petition for dissolution of marriage. These sections provide that “a petition for dissolution of marriage by mutual consent, if not withdrawn before six months after its presentation or not later than 18 months, then, the court may, on being satisfied after making inquiry, grant decree of divorce by mutual consent.”
She said: “It has been observed that the parties who have filed petition for mutual consent suffer in case one of the parties abstain himself or herself from court proceedings and keeps the divorce proceedings inconclusive, causing considerable hardship to the party in dire need or divorce.” This has been causing considerable hardship to the party in dire need of divorce and hence the amendment, she added.
Taking note of the lacuna in the law, the Supreme Court, in its judgment in the case of Naveen Kohli vs Neelu Kohli, had recommended to the Centre to seriously consider amending the laws to incorporate irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a ground for grant of divorce.