New divorce law needs watertight safeguards: HC

The High Court said the legislatures in their wisdom can amend the Hindu Marriage Act to bring in its fold the irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a ground for divorce as recommended by the Law Commission.

However, it is expected that watertight safeguards are introduced so as not to send the message that divorce has now became a cakewalk, the court said.

"The ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage cannot be resorted as a straight jacket formula leading to the institution of marriage becoming so fragile that the wrong- doer abuses it for his selfish ends leaving the other party in the lurch," Justice Kailash Gambhir said in a recent judgement.

Suggesting that there should be a minimum period before such ground can be invoked, the judge said "divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage might be contrary to common perception and the idea of marriage being a holy union for seven births...".

The court said that while invoking the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage for divorce by the husband, "the grant of divorce should be subject to the provision of adequate financial provision for wife".

It said there should be adequate provision for maintenance, education and upbringing of children whose custody  should be decided at the very stage of divorce.

The court's order came while dismissing a petition filed by Subhash Chandra Sharma challenging the lower court's March 2003 order dismissing his plea for divorce from his wife on the ground of cruelty and desertion.

The court rejected Sharma's argument that he had tried several times to resolve the differences with his wife but failed and at this stage the court can grant divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

"The High Court in the exercise of its inherent powers cannot grant divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage as it is not yet a ground of divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act," said the court.

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