The Supreme Court on Friday said it can invoke its powers under the Article 142 of the Constitution to dissolve marriages that are beyond repair even if there are not enough grounds for divorce, Live Law reported. The top court used these powers to grant divorce to a man on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage, even without his wife’s consent.
Article 142 of the Indian Constitution gives the Supreme Court the power to pass an order that it deems necessary to provide complete justice.
The Andhra Pradesh High Court had in 2012 upheld a family court’s decision to dismiss the man’s plea for divorce because he was unable to prove cruelty by the wife. The family court had also denied the man divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage. The man had then moved the Supreme Court to seek divorce.
The man’s lawyer, Guru Krishna Kumar, told the top court that the couple had been living separately for 22 years and that it was impossible for the marriage to work out. The woman’s counsel, Jayant Kumar Mehta, however claimed that the Supreme Court could not invoke Article 142 to dissolve the marriage without the consent of both parties. The couple got married in 1993 and the husband filed the divorce plea in 1999.
According to the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, a marriage can be dissolved only on the basis of bigamy, cruelty, mutual consent, insanity, or adultery.
The Supreme Court bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MR Shah noted that the top court had in the past used Article 142 several times to dissolve marriages that were “emotionally dead, beyond salvage and broken down irretrievably, even if the facts of the case do not provide a ground in law on which the divorce could be granted”. The bench said it found no substance in the woman’s claim that the article cannot be invoked due to lack of consent.
The court observed that all efforts to continue the marriage had failed and there was no possibility of reunion because of the strained relations between the parties. The court ruled that the case was suitable for the invocation of Article 142 of the Constitution with a compensation in the form of permanent alimony for the woman.
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