SC ruling on `customary divorce'

NEW DELHI, FEB. 1. ``Customary divorce'' prevailing in a community to which the parties belong (in a given case) should be ``properly established'' - in a court of law on the basis of relevant pleadings and evidence and that ``mere oral agreement'' between the lawyers appearing for the parties would not enable the court to permit a plea of ``customary divorce'' in the case, the Supreme Court has ruled.

``Even though the plaintiff (Hindu wife) might not have questioned the validity of the ``customary divorce'', the court ought to have appreciated the consequences of there not being a ``customary divorce'' (in the community of the parties) based on which the document of divorce (allegedly obtained by the husband by ``coercion'') has come into existence bearing in mind that a ``divorce by consent'' is also not recognisable by a court unless specifically permitted by law,'' the Bench said.

Setting aside the judgment and the decree of the courts below on the issue of ``divorce'' between the parties , the Bench remanded the matter back to the trial court (Karnataka) to frame an ``appropriate issue'' in regard to the existence of a provision for ``customary divorce'' in the community of the parties to these proceedings to get a marriage dissolved except through the process of or outside the court.'' The trial court will consider afresh the case of the parties set up in the suit (from the wife against the validity of ``divorce deed'' obtained allegedly by ``coercion and undue influence'' by the husband) in accordance with law and in the light of the observations made in this judgment.

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