Tag Archives: divorce

Annulment of Marriage – Concealment of Material Facts

On a careful reading of Clause (c) of Section 12(1) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, it will appear that both the parties, in case of adult, are obliged to divulge mutually and unequivocally the material fact or circumstances to each other before or at least at the time of marriage so much so that element of deception is ruled out. The words material facts or circumstances have not been defined or specified. It varies from one family to another, according to culture, ethos and social system in ages and situation. For example in a conservative family having attachment with puritan society in a marriage inevitable and unerring expectation is that both the bride and the groom must not have any record of prior marriage in any sense nor will have any marriage in any sense, not even any premarital affairs with other boy or girl (as the case may be). They cannot think of even marrying outside their caste and community, conversely , a family with liberal and cosmopolitan approach, thought, particularly in urban area will not mind in case of marriage even having knowledge of background of prior marriage or premarital affair with other counter sex outside their caste and community. In case of former, concealment of caste, community or background of prior marriage or premarital affairs before or at the time of marriage is obviously extremely material and it amounts to fraud in obtaining consent.

            In the case of Saswati Chattopadhyay v. Avik Chattopadhyay, (2011) 3 ICC 51, the husband was not informed about the earlier marriage at the time of negotiation or at the time of solemnization of the marriage. On inquiry, the husband came to know that there had been previous marriage of the appellant with one Sudip and it was also discovered that the earlier marriage was dissolved by consent. When the matter reached to the Family Court, it came to the conclusion that there has been suppression of the relevant fact with regard to the premarital status of the appellant and such relevant fact goes to the root of the matrimonial relationship. On an appeal, the Calcutta High court endorsed the view taken by the trial court and observed that premarital status of a party is a material fact which the other party must know before imparting consent for marriage. Pradeep Kumar Maheshwari v. Smt. Anita Agarwal, 2019 (2) AWC 1369.     

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Second Marriage – When Permissible during Pendency of Appeal

Section 15 of the Hindu Marriage Act provides that it shall be lawful for either party to marry again after dissolution of a marriage, if there is no right of appeal against the decree. A second marriage by either party shall be lawful only after dismissal of an appeal against the decree of divorce, if filed. If there is no right of appeal the decree of divorce remains final and that either party to the marriage is free to marry again. In case an appeal is presented, any marriage before dismissal of the appeal shall not be lawful. The object of the provision is to provide protection to the person who has filed an appeal against the decree of dissolution of marriage and to ensure that the said appeal is not frustrated. The purpose of Section 15 of the Act is to avert complications that would arise due to a second marriage during the pendency of the appeal, in case the decree of dissolution of marriage is reversed. The protection that is afforded by Section 15 is primarily to a person who is contesting the decree of divorce.

       In case during the pendency of the appeal, there is a settlement between the husband and wife, and after entering into a settlement, he does not intend to contest the decree of divorce, his intention can be made clear by filing an application for withdrawal. In that case, he does not have to wait till a formal order is passed in the appeal or otherwise his marriage is unlawful. Following the principles of purposive construction, it was held that the restriction placed on a second marriage in Section 15 of the Hindu Marriage Act, till the dismissal of an appeal, would not apply to a case where parties have settled and decided not to pursue the appeal. Anurag Mittal v. Mrs. Shaily Mishra Mittal, 2019 (132) ALR 725.

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Divorce Proceedings – Abuse of Process of Court

The intention of the legislation is at least to consider the rival contentions of the parties to matrimony and when there is sufficient material on record to show that the ingredients under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act are made out, and under the given circumstances there is cruelty, the Court should either make effort to settle the dispute or relationship has to be brought to a complete end. One party to the proceeding cannot be permitted to take advantage and cannot be permitted to abuse the process of law court and on the other hand simultaneously resorting to all the process of misbehaving with the husband and harassing him. Such type of attitude by the respondent (wife) cannot be permitted coupled with the fact that the order happens to be an ex parte order because the wife has deliberately avoided participating in the proceedings, despite the notice being served by the publication which would deemed to be served under law. Anirudh Guru Pratap Singh v. Harmit Kaur, 2017 (125) ALR 358.

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Cruelty – Levelling False Allegations

Cruelty can never be defined with exactitude. What is cruelty will depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case. In case the wife makes reckless, defamatory and false accusations against her husband, his family members and colleagues, which would definitely have the effect of lowering his reputation in the eyes of his peers. Mere filing of complaints is not cruelty, if there are justifiable reasons to file the complaints. Merely because no action is taken on the complaint or after trial the accused is acquitted may not be a ground to treat such accusations of the wife as cruelty within the meaning of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955. However, if it is found that the allegations are patently false, then there can be no manner of doubt that the said conduct of a spouse leveling false accusations against the other spouse would be an act of cruelty. Raj Talreja v. Kavita Talreja, 2017 (123) ALR 835.

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Divorce by Mutual Consent – Withdrawal of Suit

The person who institutes a suit, has every right to withdraw the same. Where the parties had filed a petition for divorce by mutual consent expressing their desire to dissolve their marriage due to temperamental incompatibility and the respondent (wife) withdrew her consent before the stage of second motion. The withdrawal of consent was after a period of eighteen months of filing the petition. The respondent (wife) further submitted that she was taken by surprise when she was asked by the appellant for divorce, and had given the initial consent under mental stress and duress. She also stated that she never wanted divorce and is willing to live with the appellant (husband) as his wife. Consent should always be a free consent.

       Even if withdrawal application is filed after 18 months, the court is not bound to grant divorce decree by mutual consent. The court has to proceed with about the genuineness of the averments in the petition and also to find out whether the consent was not obtained by force, fraud or undue influence and whether marriage can be saved. The court may make such inquiry as it thinks fit including the hearing or examination of the parties for the purpose of satisfying itself whether the averments in the petition are true. Rahul Kamal v. Sudha Pandey, 2018 (131) ALR 673.

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Disclosure Regarding Previous Marriage

      On a careful reading of Clause (c) ofSection 12(1) of the Hindu Marriage Act, it will appear that both the partiesin case of adult are obliged to divulge mutually and unequivocally the materialfact or circumstances to each other before or at least at the time of marriageso much so that element of deception is ruled out. The words material fact orcircumstances have not been defined or specified. It varies from one family toanother, according to culture, ethos and social system in ages and situation.For example in a conservative family having attachment with puritan society ina marriage inevitable and unerring expectation is that both the bride and groommust not have any record of prior marriage in any sense nor will have anymarriage in any sense, not even any premarital affairs with other boy or girl(as the case may be). They cannot think of even marrying outside their caste andcommunity, conversely, a family with liberal and cosmopolitan approach, thought,particularly in urban area will not mind in case of marriage even havingknowledge of background of prior marriage or premarital affair with other sexoutside their caste and community. In case of former, concealment of caste,community or background of prior marriage or premarital affairs before or atthe time of marriage is obviously extremely material and it amounts to fraud inobtaining consent.

       In the case of Saswati Chattopadhyaya v. Avik Chattopadhyaya, (2011) 3 ICC 51, the husband was not informed about the earlier marriage at the time of negotiation or at the time of solemnization of marriage. On inquiry, the husband came to know that there had been previous marriage of the appellant with one Sudip and it was also discovered that the earler marriage was dissolved by consent. When the matter reached the family court, it came to the conclusion that there has been suppression of the relevant fact with regard to the premarital status of the appellant and such relevant fact goes to the root of the matrimonial relationship. Pradeep Kumar Maheshwari v. Smt. Anita Agarwal, 2018 (131) ALR 566.

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Long Separation – Relevant for Dissolution of Marriage

In Smt. Arti Pandey v. Vishnu Kant Tiwari, 2012 (95) ALR 494, it was held that when the wife had shown no inclination to continue with the matrimonial bond, long separation would be a relevant ground in considering a plea for dissolution of marriage. The court can also not be oblivious of the serious allegations leveled by the husband against the wife. Whether or not allegation of adultery is established on the basis of evidence, the fact remains that the respect for each other is seriously dented. There is a clear rupture of matrimonial bond between the parties, and it would be unjust to insist upon the parties to continue with marriage, in such circumstances. Mamta Singh v. Lakshman Singh¸2018 (131) ALR 137.

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