Tag Archives: Marriage and Divorce

Triple Talaq – Grant of Anticipatory Bail

The statutory text indicates that Section 7(c) of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019 does not impose an absolute bar on grant of bail. On the contrary, the Magistrate may grant bail, if satisfied that “there are reasonable grounds for granting bail to such person” and upon complying with the requirement of hearing the married Muslim woman upon whom talaq is pronounced. Hence, though Section 7 begins with a non obstante clause which operates in relation to the CrPC, a plain construction of Section 7(c) of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019 would indicate that it does not impose a fetter on the power of the Magistrate to grant bail, save and except, for the stipulation that before doing so, the married Muslim Woman, upon whom talaq is pronounced, must be heard and there should be a satisfaction of the Magistrate of the existence of reasonable grounds for granting bail to the person. This implies that even while entertaining an application for grant of anticipatory bail for an offence under the Act, the competent court must hear the married muslim woman who has made the complaint, as prescribed under Section 7(c) of the Act. Only after giving the married Muslim woman a hearing, can the competent court grant bail to the accused. Rahna Jalal v. State of Kerala, (2021) 1 SCC 733.

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Mental Cruelty – Damaging the reputation of the Spouse

The respondent (wife) had made several defamatory complaints to the appellant’s (Husband) superiors in the army for which, a court of inquiry was held by the Army Authorities against the appellant. Primarily for those, the appellant’s career progress got affected. The Respondent was also making complaints to other authorities, such as, the State Commission for Women and has posted defamatory materials on other platforms. The net outcome of above is that the appellant’s career and reputation had suffered.

        When the appellant has suffered adverse consequences in his life and career on account of the allegations made by the respondent, the legal consequences must follow and those cannot be prevented only because, no court has determined that the allegations were false.

The allegations leveled by a highly educated spouse which have the propensity to irreparably damage the character and reputation of the other spouse and when the reputation of the spouse is sullied amongst his colleagues, his superiors and the society at large, it would be difficult to expect condonation of such conduct by the affected party.  

       The explanation of the wife that she made those complaints in order to protect the matrimonial ties would not justify the persistent effort made by her to undermine the dignity and reputation of her husband. In circumstances like this, the wronged party cannot be expected to continue with the matrimonial relationship and there is enough justification for him to seek separation. Joydeep Majumdar v. Bharti Jaiswal Majumdar, Civil Appeal Nos. 3786-3787 of 2020 decided on 26.02.2021

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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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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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Order for – Interim Maintenance

An order under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 does not decide in any manner rights and liabilities of the parties raised in matrimonial petition. The lis in matrimonial petition continues even after disposal of the application under Section 24 of the Act, 1955 as the object of the provision is to enable the indigent, weaker spouse to resist the action of others and to maintain himself or herself, as the case may be. The maintenance awarded under Section 24 of the Act, therefore, can only be said to be an interim maintenance, which would be payable during the continuance of the substantive proceedings under the Act. However, with the termination of the said proceedings, the order under Section 24 of the Act, will lose its efficacy. That means that the said order cannot inure after termination of petition.

       Further, that no appeal shall lie against an interlocutory order under Section 19(1) of the Family Courts Act, 1984, the appeal filed against the order under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 cannot be said to be in continuation of the original proceedings. Smt. Madhu Mishra v. Prem Kumar Mishra, 2019 (1) AWC 761.

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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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