Tag Archives: Divorce Law

Right to Residence in a Shared Household

As regards Section 17(1) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, the wife is only entitled to claim a right to residence in a shared household and a ‘shared household’ would only mean the house belonging to or taken on rent by the husband, or the house which belongs to the joint family of which the husband is a member. The property belonging to the mother of the husband cannot be called a ‘shared household’ in as much as it is not owned by the husband or taken on rent by him. Smt. Sujata Gandhi v. S.B. Gandhi, 2020 (4) AWC 3646.

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Khula – Mode of Dissolution of Marriage

khula” is a mode of dissolution of marriage when the wife does not want to continue with the marital tie. To settle the matter privately, the wife need only to consult a Mufti (juris consult) of her school. The Mufti gives his fatwa or advisory decision based on the Shariat of his school. Further, if the wife does not want to continue with marital tie and takes mode of “khula” for dissolution of marriage, she is required to propose her husband for dissolution of marriage. This may or may not accompany her offer to give something in return. The wife may offer to give up her claim to Mahr (dower). The “khula” is a mode of divorce which proceeds from the wife, the husband cannot refuse subject only to reasonable negotiation with regard to what the wife has offered to give him in return. The Mufti gives his fatwa or advisory decision based on the Shariat of his school. However, if the matter is carried to the point of litigation and cannot be settled privately then the Qazi (Judge) is required to deliver a qaza (judgment) based upon the Shariat. Juveria Abdul Majid Patni v. Atif Iqbal Mansoori, (2014) 10 SCC 736

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Appeal from Decree of Divorce – Filed beyond expiry of period of Limitation

As held by the Hon’ble Supreme  Court in Anurag Mittal v. Shaily Mishra Mittal reported in (2018) 9 SCC 691, the object of Section 15 of Hindu Marriage Act is to provide protection to the person who had filed an appeal against the decree of dissolution of marriage and to ensure that such appeal was not frustrated. The protection afforded by Section 15 is primarily to a person contesting the decree of divorce. It was held as under:—

“It is necessary to state how the question before us has already been settled by the decision in Lila Gupta v. Laxmi Narain, (1978) 3 SCC 258. Even when the words of the proviso were found to be prohibitory in clear negative terms — “it shall not be lawful”, etc., the Hon’ble Court held that the incapacity to marry imposed by the proviso did not lead to an inference of nullity, vide para 9 of  Lila Gupta v. Laxmi Narain, (1978) 3 SCC 258. It is all the more difficult to infer nullity when there is no prohibition; where there are no negative words but on the other hand positive words like “it shall be lawful”. Assuming that a marriage contracted before it became lawful to do so was unlawful and the words create a disability, it is not possible to infer a nullity or voidness vide paras 9 and 10 of Lila Gupta case…

“………. What is held in essence is that if a provision of law prescribes an incapacity to marry and yet the person marries while under that incapacity, the marriage would not be void in the absence of an express provision that declares nullity. Quae incapacity imposed by statute, there is no difference between an incapacity imposed by negative language such as “it shall not be lawful” or an incapacity imposed by positive language like “it shall be lawful (in certain conditions, in the absence of which it is impliedly unlawful)”. It would thus appear that the law is already settled by the Court that a marriage contracted during a prescribed period will not be void because it was contracted under an incapacity. Obviously, this would have no bearing on the other conditions of a valid marriage.”

In Leela Gupta v. Laxmi Narain reported in (1978) 3 SCC 258, it was held thus:

“…..the interdict of law is that it shall not be lawful for a certain party to do a certain thing which would mean that if that act is done it would be unlawful. But whenever a statute prohibits a certain thing being done thereby making it unlawful, without providing consequence for the breach, it is not legitimate to say that such a thing when done is void because that would tantamount to saying that every unlawful act is void.”

“….Merely because each one of them is prohibited from contracting a second marriage for a certain period, it could not be said that despite there being a decree of divorce for certain purposes the first marriage subsists or is presumed to subsist…….. An incapacity for second marriage for a certain period does not have effect of treating the former marriage as subsisting…..”

“Thus, examining the matter from all possible angles and keeping in view the fact that the scheme of the Act provides for treating certain marriages void and simultaneously some marriages which are made punishable yet not void and no consequences having been provided for in respect of the marriage in contravention of the proviso to Section 15, it cannot be said that such marriage would be void”

In any case, the bar of Section 15 of Hindu Marriage act is not at all attracted where the appeal from the decree of divorce had been filed almost a year after expiry of the period of limitation for filing an appeal. Section 15 permits a marriage after dissolution of a marriage if there is no right of appeal against the decree, or even if there is such a right to appeal, the time of appealing has expired without an appeal having been presented, or the appeal has been presented but has been dismissed. The bar, if any, under Section 15 of the Hindu Marriage Act applies only if there is an appeal filed within the period of limitation, and not afterwards upon condonation of delay in filing an appeal unless of course, the decree of divorce is stayed or there is an interim order of Court, restraining the parties or any of them from remarrying during the pendency of the appeal. Krishnaveni Rai v. Pankaj Rai, Cr. Appeal No. 321 of 2020 (Arising Out of SLP (Cri) No. 7903 of 2019).

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Matrimonial Dispute – When can a DNA Test be ordered

In the case of Bhabani Prasad Jena v. Convenor Secretary, Orissa State Commission for Women, (2010) 8 SCC 633, it was observed by the Hon’ble Apex Court that in a matter where paternity of a child is in issue before the Court, the use of DNA Test is an extremely delicate and sensitive aspect. It should not be directed by the court as a matter of course, or in a routine manner. Whenever such a request is made, the court has to consider diverse aspects including presumption under Section 112 of the Evidence Act; pros and cons of such order and the test of “eminent need”. Whether it is not possible for the Court to reach the truth without use of such test. Any order for DNA test can be given by the Court only if a strong prima facie case is made out for such a course. Satya Pal Yadav v. Smt. Sandhya Yadav, 2017 (123) ALR 860.

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