Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage – High Court not empowered to Grant Divorce on this Ground  

August 24, 2018

Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage

In this recent case, the issue that fell for consideration before the High Court of Delhi was whether the High Court had the jurisdiction to pass a decree of divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of Marriage?

In the case, the Appellant’s husband petition for divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 was rejected by the Trial Court on the ground that the appellant had failed to prove the allegation of cruelty against the respondent wife. Aggrieved by the Trial Court’s order, the Appellant approached the High Court whereby he contended that there was irretrievable breakdown of marriage.

While passing its order, the High Court was also of the view that the husband had failed to prove his allegations of cruelty against the respondent wife. Additionally, the Court also disagreed to dissolve the marriage on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage on observing that the High Court was not empowered to dissolve the marriage on the ground of irretrievable breakdown.

A similar observation was made by the Supreme Court of India in the case of Anil Kumar Jain vs Maya Jain, whereby the Supreme Court held that in exercise of its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution the Supreme Court can grant relief to the parties without even waiting for the statutory period of six months stipulated in Section 13B of the Act.

This doctrine of irretrievable break-down of marriage is not available even to the High Courts which do not have powers similar to those exercised by the Supreme Court under Article 142 of the Constitution. Neither the civil courts nor even the High Courts can, therefore, pass orders before the periods prescribed under the relevant provisions of the Act or on grounds not provided for in Section 13 and Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. 

The entire case can be accessed here.