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Family Court Had Erred In Travelling Beyond The Scope Of Its Powers To Grant Divorce: Delhi High Court

Deepti V/s Anil Kumar [MAT. APP (F.C.) 290/2018]

The Delhi High Court held that the Family Court had erred in travelling beyond the scope of its powers to grant divorce.

The Division Bench of Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva and Justice Vikas Mahajan noted that opined that the power to grant divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage was exercised by the Supreme Court under Article 142 of the Constitution to do complete justice to both the parties and such a power was not vested in the High Courts leave alone the Family Courts.

The appellant-wife challenged the common order and judgment passed by the Family Court, by which the petition filed by the husband-respondent under Sections 13(1)(ia) and (ib) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (HMA) seeking divorce on the ground of cruelty and desertion had been allowed.

The husband submitted that from the very first day of marriage, his wife created scenes at night hours and most of the times did not allow him to enjoy his conjugal rights and she refused him access to her and inflicted cruelty upon him. The husband also submitted that twenty days after the birth of their daughter, his wife left with her father for her parental house and had not returned to her matrimonial home despite repeated requests and visits by him. The Family Court, after considering the evidence led by the parties held that it clearly reflected that the wife was interested to stay with her husband at the matrimonial house, but it was the husband who was not interested to keep his wife along with him. 

The Family Court thus held that the husband had failed to establish the ground of desertion. In respect of the ground of cruelty, the Family Court had held that there were no normal and healthy sexual relationships between the parties and the same had resulted in striking at the very foundation of their marriage. The Family Court after holding that there was denial of conjugal relations, noticed that parties had been living separately for more than eleven years and held that the marriage had broken down beyond repair and thus held that the husband had successfully established cruelty and thus granted a decree of divorce against the wife.

The court relied on the SC’s decision in Shilpa Sailesh v. Varun Sreenivasan, wherein it was held that “grant of divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage by this Court was not a matter of right, but a discretion which was to be exercised with great care and caution, keeping in mind several factors ensuring that ‘complete justice’ was done to both parties. It was obvious that the Court should be fully convinced and satisfied that the marriage was totally unworkable, emotionally dead and beyond salvation and, therefore, dissolution of marriage was the right solution and the only way forward and that the marriage had irretrievably broken down was to be factually determined and firmly established”.

Decision Summary

The ruling was delivered by the Division Bench of Delhi High Court comprising  Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva and Justice Vikas Mahajan.

Advocates Lohit Ganguly, Ajay Kumar and Mohit Khatri appeared for the Appellant while the Respondent was represented by Advocates D.K. Pandey and Vikram Panwar


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