The Delhi High Court has in an order directed the lower courts to make sure that all trials relating to matrimonial disputes and divorce cases to be resolved within six months, which is the prescribed time under the Hindu Marriage Act.
The court made note of the same in light of the undue delay which prevails in the current system for matters of maintenance and alimony in divorce cases. “No standard uniform practice and procedure is followed by the courts,” noted the court of Justice JR Midha, adding that in most cases, the provisions for interim maintenance and permanent alimony under Section 24 and 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act were not being utilized.
The court also took note of Section 21-B of the Act and said that “Section 21-B of the Hindu Marriage Act provides for an expeditious trial — to be concluded within a period of six months. However, the disposal of petitions before the trial courts takes many years.”
“This is matter of serious concern. It was certainly not the intention of the law that parties to a dissolved marriage suffer further misery of starvation in the absence of grant of alimony,” the court added.
The court took note that this has resulted in “parallel proceedings” under the better known maintenance provisions under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure code by most people involved in such cases. Also that the case of parallel proceedings usually takes a toll on the weaker spouse in terms of receiving maintenance and also takes much longer.
Since the Hindu Marriage Act applies to both the spouses so husbands have the equal right to claim maintenance from wife at the time of divorce in case it is proved that he does not have sufficient income or assets. The court noted that the disposal of cases had taken a long time, with the oldest of such a case dating back to 1996.
The court in its order has now directed that the spouse who files for divorce is required to file his or her affidavits with details of income, assets and expenditure, as required by Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, at the same time as the divorce plea, if they want to claim maintenance.
The respondent party should also file their affidavits within 30 days of the notice being issued, the court said.
The HC also took note that the petitioner to deposit money to be paid to the respondent as litigation expenses in order to protect the spouse who is the respondent in divorce proceedings, and is usually the party which claims maintenance.
The court has also prescribed that the affidavit and counter affidavit on income must be filed within six weeks of notice being issued on a divorce petition.
The court also said the time-table prescribed should be followed for all cases of maintenance under the Hindu Marriage Act, Domestic Violence Act, Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act as well as pleas under Section 125 CrPC, reported the Indian Express.