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Article 142: Marriage Breakdown



  Apr 16, 2024

Article 142: Marriage Breakdown



Article 142 grants the Supreme Court the authority to pass any decree or make any order necessary for doing "complete justice" in any case or matter pending before it. This broad power is intended to help the Court address issues that may not be fully resolved by existing laws or through ordinary legal procedures.

Basics of Divorce Law in India

Divorce law in India varies based on the religion of the parties involved but generally requires a judicial process. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, for example, outlines specific grounds for divorce, including cruelty, desertion, conversion to another religion, unsound mind, leprosy, venereal disease, renunciation of the world, and presumption of death.

Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage

An "irretrievable breakdown of marriage" is not explicitly listed as a ground for divorce in the Hindu Marriage Act but has been recognized by the Supreme Court in various judgments as a basis for dissolving marriages. This concept is applied when the marriage has broken down beyond repair, and all efforts at reconciliation have failed.

Role of Article 142 in Divorce Cases

Application of Article 142: The Supreme Court has occasionally used its powers under Article 142 to dissolve marriages that are demonstrably beyond salvage, even when the statutory cooling-off periods or other procedural requirements have not been met. This is typically in cases where prolonging the marriage would only increase the suffering of the parties.

Conditions for Waiver of Cooling-Off Period

The Hindu Marriage Act stipulates a cooling-off period between the filing of the petition and the final decree to allow couples a chance to reconsider their decision. However, the Supreme Court can waive this period under Article 142 if:

★ The marriage has no chance of survival and continuing the process is futile.

★Both parties have conclusively demonstrated that they have settled all ancillary matters (e.g., alimony, child custody).


★ Prolonging the process would add to the distress and hardship of the parties.

Key Supreme Court Judgments

Several landmark cases have shaped the application of Article 142 in divorce proceedings, including:

★ Amardeep Singh v. Harveen Kaur (2017): The Court held that the six-month waiting period could be waived if the marriage is irretrievably broken and waiting would only prolong the inevitable.

★ Amit Kumar v. Suman Beniwal (2021): Further clarifies conditions under which immediate relief can be granted, emphasizing the comprehensive settlement of matrimonial disputes.

Implications and Considerations

While the Supreme Court’s use of Article 142 provides a mechanism to circumvent lengthy procedures, it is exercised with caution to ensure that justice is done without undermining the legislative framework or setting precedents that could lead to arbitrary application of the law.

Conclusion

Understanding the basic framework of Article 142 and its application in divorce cases allows a deeper insight into how the Indian judiciary balances strict legal requirements with the need to provide timely justice in cases where marriages have irretrievably broken down. This balance is crucial in ensuring that the law adapts to the realities faced by individuals in deeply personal and distressing situations.


SRIRAM’s


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