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SC Rules That Keeping Spouses Together Despite Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage Is Cruelty

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SUPREME COURT LAW INSIDER

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Published on: 30 August 2023 at 17:56 IST

In a recent verdict, the Supreme Court has pronounced that persisting with a marriage despite its irrevocable breakdown constitutes cruelty on both parties involved.

The Court, comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia, indicated that sustained bitterness, extinguished emotions, and prolonged separation within the specific context of a case can be interpreted as indicative of an “irretrievable breakdown of marriage.” By exercising its authority under Article 142 of the Constitution, the Court dissolved a marriage, emphasizing that when such a breakdown occurs, dissolution becomes the sole solution.

The case pertains to a husband who initially filed a petition under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, seeking the restitution of conjugal rights. However, the Family Court rejected this petition, and subsequent legal actions also met dismissal. In the final appeal, the Supreme Court found this scenario to be emblematic of an irrevocable marriage breakdown.

The Court cited its recent judgment in Rakesh Raman v. Kavita (2023), which affirmed that marriages irreparably damaged by cruelty can be dissolved. Furthermore, reference was made to Shilpa Shailesh v. Varun Sreenivasan (2023), wherein a Constitution Bench endorsed the use of Article 142 to dissolve marriages marred by irretrievable breakdowns.

While acknowledging the desire for the two parties to reconcile, particularly for the sake of their child, the Court ultimately recognized that given the unyielding stances of both parties and their failure to embrace compromise, coexistence was no longer feasible.

The Court stated that over twelve years of separation had eroded any emotional bond they once shared, leading to an irreparable rupture in their marital union.

While officially dissolving the marriage, the Court emphasized the husband’s responsibility to financially support the education of their daughter. As a result, the husband was directed to deposit Rs.20,00,000/- for this purpose.