MUMBAI: Given the 2017 Supreme Court judgment that a six-month cooling off period in mutual consent divorce petitions is ‘not mandatory’, Bombay high court came to the rescue of an estranged couple. On their urgent consent the HC waived the wait since the woman is now expecting a child of another man, who she plans to marry next. Estranged for over two years, the husband agreed to her plea to cancel the cooling period in their case.
Justice Nitin Sambre on October 26, directed the Bandra family court to decide the couple’s divorce petition “as expeditiously as possible”, with physical presence or via video conferencing.
The couple, married in Hyderabad in August 2014 were residing separately since December 2018. This August they filed a mutual consent plea to end their matrimony under the Hindu Marriage Act. They also sought a waiver of the 6-month statutory waiting period, after filing of a joint-divorce petition, under section 13B of the Act.
But last month the Bandra family court rejected the exemption request. The couple rushed to the HC. They said they have arrived at consent terms including on the residential house which the husband would give her on certain conditions.
Lawyers on both sides, pointed to the 2017 SC judgement which analysed the provisions of section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act and said, “the object was not to perpetuate a purposeless marriage or to prolong the agony of the parties when there was no chance of reconciliation.’’
The SC had said, “Though every effort has to be made to save a marriage, if there are no chances of reunion and there are chances of fresh rehabilitation, the Court should not be powerless in enabling the parties to have a better option.”
The SC was of the view that the cooling off period of six months “is not mandatory but directory” and that it would open to court to “exercise its discretion in facts and circumstances of each case where there is no possibility of parties resuming cohabitation and there are chances of alternative rehabilitation.”
The HC thus applied the SC ruling to the case and said, “it would be appropriate in fitness of things, particularly having regard to the medical condition of the petitioner (the wife) to allow the waiver request.’’