The Special Marriages Act and the Hindu Marriage Act do not recognize ‘Irretrievable Break Down of Marriage’ as a ground for divorce. However, despite this fact, the Supreme Court has held that ‘Irretrievable Break down’ of marriage constitutes a ground for divorce.
In a recent appeal before the Supreme Court, the Court dissolved the marriage on grounds that the marriage had irretrievably broken down. The Appeal was lodged against the decision of the Andra Pradesh High Court wherein, despite the fact that there was evidence that the couple had lived separately for 22 years, the High Court refused to make the order of divorce because the Petitioner’s wife refused to give her consent for the divorce.
At the Supreme Court, the two-man bench consisting of Justices S.K. Kaul and M.R. Shah, invoked the Court’s inherent powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, and granted the divorce, holding that the marriage had broken down irretrievably.
The Supreme Court has previously issued verdicts mandating the lawmakers to amend the requisite legislation, by introducing the ‘Irretrievable Breakdown’ as a ground for divorce. The Supreme Court’s verdicts have not been obeyed.
Also, in its 1978 and 2009 Reports, the Law Commission had recommended that immediate actions should be taken to amend the requisite laws by introducing the ‘Irretrievable Breakdown’ ground, especially where wedlock has become a deadlock. Unfortunately, the recommendation has not been carried out.
The laws remain unamended. Due to this, many Petitioners have been denied divorce even when it is shown that the couples have been living separately for many years, and their relationship cannot be repaired.
As a means of doing justice, the Supreme Court has been compelled, on a number of occasions, to resort to invoking its power under Article 142, in order to dissolve a marriage where it is evident that the marriage is emotionally dead, totally unworkable, cannot be salvaged, and has irretrievably broken down.