No courts in the country except the Supreme Court can grant divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of matrimonial relationship.
‘This doctrine of irretrievable breakdown of marriage is not available even to the High Courts which do not have powers similar to those exercised by the Supreme Court under Art 142 of the Constitution’
A bench comprising Mr Justice Altamas Kabir and Mr Justice Cyriac Joseph, allowing the appeal of a husband, Anil Kumar Jain, a native of Chindwara in Madhya Pradesh, was married to Maya Jain on June 22, 1985. A petition for divorce, by mutual consent, was filed by both the parties jointly. The wife, however, withdrew her consent for divorce.
‘Neither the Civil Court nor even the High Court can, therefore, pass orders before the period prescribed under the relevant provisions of the Act or on grounds not provided for in Sec 13 and 13 B of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955,’ the court said in its 23-page judgment.
Mr Justice Kabir, writing the judgment for the bench, also noted, ‘This court has invoked its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution in order to do complete justice to the parties when faced with the situation where the marriage ties has completely broken down and there was no possibility whatsoever of the spouses coming together again.
‘In such a situation, this court felt that it would be a travesty of justice to continue with the marriage ties.
‘It may, however, be indicated that in some of the High Courts, which do not possess the powers vested in the Supreme Court under Art 142 of the Constitution, this question had arisen and it was held in most of the cases that despite the fact that marriage had broken down irretrievable, the same was not a ground for granting a decree of divorce either under Sec 13 or 13 B of the Hindu Marriage Act.’ The apex court also noted, ‘Facing its decision on the doctrine of irretrievable breakdown of marriage, the honorable judges were of the view that no useful purpose would be served in prolonging the agony of the parties to a marriage which had broken down irretrievably and the curtain had to be run down at some stage.
‘The court has to take a total and broad view of the ground realities of the situation while dealing with the adjustment of human relationships,’ it added.
The Trial Court and Madhya Pradesh High Court also dismissed the appeal of the husband.
The apex court, while granting divorce and setting aside the orders and judgments of the other courts below noted that courts can grant divorce even if one of the spouses have withdrawn the consent for divorce but no court can grant divorce by mutual consent except the Supreme Court before the expiry of the stipulated period of six months from the date of filing of the petition and the consent must subsist till the next date of hearing.