In a significant move, the Supreme Court on Tuesday made a big modification to the rules for Hindu couples looking to divorce immediately. The SC waived off the mandatory six-month cooling-off period for the couples who agree that they want separation immediately and there is no chance of their reunion.
Thus, a Hindu couple won’t have to wait for six long months for a separation in the case of mutual consent. The marriage can be legally terminated in just a week. The apex court has left this decision on individual judges to see if a mandatory six-month wait can be waived.
“We are of the view that the period mentioned in section 13B(2) is not mandatory but directory; it will be open to the court to exercise its discretion in the facts and circumstances of each case where there is no possibility of parties resuming cohabitation and there are chances of alternative rehabilitation,” said a bench comprising Justices AK Goel and UU Lalit.
The couples seeking divorce with mutual consent can file waiver application after a week and the minimum period of six months can be relaxed, the bench added.
The 1955 Hindu Marriage Act provides for a statutory cooling period of six months to see the possibility of settlement. “Though every effort has to be made to save a marriage, if there are no chances of reunion and there are chances of fresh rehabilitation, the court should not be powerless in enabling the parties to have a better option,” the court said.
“In determining the question whether the provision is mandatory or directory, language alone is not always decisive. The court has to have the regard to the context, the subject matter and the object of the provision,” it said.
The decision came during a hearing of a case where the couple has been living separately for the past eight years and there was no possibility of their reunion. They sought waiver of the six month period.