MATRIMONIAL REMEDIES AND CAUSES UNDER HINDU LAW

Marriage is considered a sacred institution in Indian society. It is the very foundation of a stable family and civilized society. It gives status and security to the parties and their offspring.[1]

When two individuals are married to each other, they bring in different thoughts, opinions, different interests, and goals into their relationship. These interests, goals, and opinions will not be stable throughout their married life. At some point in time, the interests, thoughts, opinions, and goals of these two individuals do not match and they may become repulsive.[2] All these small conflicts will grow to an extent where it may lead to disagreements among themselves which may finally lead to matrimonial disputes. The attitude of these two individuals towards each other, the disagreements among themselves may further lead to differences among each other and may also create hindrances in solving their disputes. These disputes not only occur because of the differences in their thoughts, opinions, and interests but it is a series of circumstances that will create high damage to their relationship.


CAUSES OF MATRIMONIAL DISPUTES

CO-DEPENDENCY

Sometimes co-dependency can also be a cause that can lead to matrimonial disputes. The couple depends too much upon each other. This leads to an unhealthy relationship where the circumstances are such that the couple does not feel comfortable doing things with their partner being absent, or that they have changed themself so much that they forget their likes and dislikes that they used to have. They may feel trapped and feel like they are losing their identity. This may probably lead to a dispute and an unhealthy relationship.

When the thought process of each other does not match or even if they do not comprise. This may lead to a matrimonial dispute among them.


EXPECTATIONS BEING NOT MET


When there is an ongoing dispute among a couple in their relationship, where one person is unhappy with the actions and attitude of the other person and either of them expects that their partner should make significant changes in their actions and attitude to make their partner happy, but they do not do it, then it may lead to another dispute further making their relationship unhealthy.


DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Domestic violence is a well-known ground of matrimonial disputes and divorce. Often there are a lot of complaints from women regarding domestic violence. There are a lot of cases where women get mistreated by their partners or in-laws in their relationships. They face physical, mental, verbal, and emotional abuse by their partners and in-laws. This is a common ground for divorce.


OFFENCES AGAINST THEIR MARRIAGE

When both or one of the both of the party commits bigamy or adultery, is considered an offence against marriage and it may lead to a matrimonial dispute which will further lead to divorce. Section 494 of IPC defines bigamy as “whoever, having a husband or wife living, marries in any case in which such marriage is void because of it taking place during the life of such husband or wife, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine”[3]. Bhaurao Shankar Lokhande & Anr. vs. State of Maharashtra & Anr., 1 February 1965,[4] is one such case of bigamy, wherein the appellant Bhaurao Shankar Lokhande has been found guilty of bigamy and has been convicted under section 494 of IPC.

Section 497 of IPC defines adultery as “whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has a reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent and connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine or with both. In such a case, the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor”.[5]


INABILITY IN RESOLVING CONFLICTS


When a couple has disagreements among themselves but they are not able resolve them on their own, this might increase the intensity of their dispute and finally lead to divorce and separation. Whenever a fight happens between couples in a relationship, they usually do not listen to either side and keep on blaming each other. This gives way to the inability to resolve conflicts which are created in a relationship.


RELIEF FOR MATRIMONIAL DISPUTES

Couples approach family courts when matrimonial disputes arise, as family courts are considered the most significant means to deliver justice. Here, they approach the court to adopt means, like, mediation and conciliation, etc. Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 has some matrimonial remedies mentioned to provide relief to the aggrieved party.


RESTITUTION OF CONJUGAL RIGHTS (SECTION 9)

When either of the spouses withdraws from their wedding without a reasonable excuse, then section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act says that the other spouse or the aggrieved party can apply for the restitution of conjugal rights. According to section 9, the court may not compel the other spouse to be in a marital relationship with the other spouse but it can ask for a justifiable reason as well as a remedy for the other spouse.


JUDICIAL SEPARATION (SECTION 10)

When the court suspends the rights and duties of marriage for a period of time, then it is called judicial separation. The grounds for judicial separation are, “adultery, cruelty, desertion (2 years), conversion (apostasy), insanity, leprosy, venereal diseases, renunciation from the world, not heard for 7 years, bigamy, husband guilty of rape, sodomy or bestiality”.


VOID AND VOIDABLE MARRIAGE (SECTION 11 & 12)

Section 11- Any marriage which is contravening to clause 1- “neither of the party has a living spouse at the time of marriage”, clause 4- “parties shouldn’t come within the degrees of prohibited relationship unless the custom permits”, and clause 5- “the parties are not sapindas for each other unless custom permits” of Section 5 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 will be considered as void marriages. Under this section, maintenance cannot be claimed.

Section 12- Any marriage contravening to clause 2- “neither party is incapable of communicating their consent or suffering mental disorder or disqualified to the procreation of children” of Section 5 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, will be considered as voidable marriage. Under this section, the wife can claim maintenance and the court can also provide “maintenance opened pendent lit” which means maintenance can be provided even during the time of pending litigation.



DIVORCE (SECTION 13)

The concept and the grounds of divorce is the same as the concept of judicial separation. The only difference between section 10 and divorce is that section 13 allows re-marriage under section 15 of the Hindu Marriage Act. There are two sub-sections under section 13:

Section 13(A) - this section provides alternate relief in divorce proceedings, like, the maintenance, custody of children, etc.

Section 13(B) - this section allows parties to take divorce by mutual consent.


CONCLUSION

The concept of marriage is to establish a relationship between husband and wife. Based on Hindu law, marriage is a sacred tie and the last of ten sacraments that can never be broken. Also, it is a relationship that is established from birth to birth. Also, it is not only considered as sacred but is also a holy union.

The main objective of marriage is to enable a woman and a man to perform their religious duties.[6]

Matrimonial disputes often happen when the interests and desires of the couple do not match and remain unfulfilled. When both the spouses go to a stage where they give more preference to their interests and opinions and they disagree with each other’s opinions and desires, this leads to matrimonial conflicts which will further lead to divorce. The couples with these matrimonial disputes should be subjected to counseling and try to bring in an attitude of adjustment among the couple. Through this, there might be a chance of re-establishment of a friendly relationship among them.


-- [1] Matrimonial Reliefs and Remedies under Hindu Marriage Act (2021), 2022 [2] Akshaya Rayavarapu, Matrimonial Disputes - Causes And Remedies, THE LAW GURUKUL, 26 Jun., 2022, 09:16 PM, https://www.thelawgurukul.com/post/matrimonial-disputes-causes-and-remedies [3] INDIAN KANOON, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/508426/ (last visited 26 Jun., 2022) [4] Bhaurao Shankar Lokhande & Anr. vs State of Maharashtra & Anr., (AIR 1965 SC 1564) [5] INDIAN KANOON, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1833006/ (last visited 26 Jun., 2022) [6] Punitha, Matrimonial Remedies Under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, LEGAL SERVICE INDIA, 26 Jun., 2022, 07:23 PM, https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-5520-matrimonial-remedies-under-hindu-marriage-act-1955



This article is written by Tarini Varma of Ramaiah College of Law.

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