Family Courts are not allowed to enlarge the scope of enquiry under S. 13-B(2) of the Hindu Marriage Act

Madras High Court: While deciding upon an appeal against the order and decree passed by the Family Court, Tirunelveli, the Division Bench of K.K. Sasidharan and B. Gokuldas, JJ., set aside the decision of the Family Court dismissing the joint petition for dissolution of marriage of the appellants for want of reasons for separation. The Court further observed that the Family Courts are not allowed to enlarge the scope of enquiry under Section 13B (2) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and once it is satisfied that the essential requirements under Section 13B (2) has been fulfilled and substantiated then the Family Court must venture to grant the decree of divorce to the parties. It is not for the Family Court to decide as to whether parties were justified in living separately as it is not the scope of a petition filed under Section 13-B of the 1955 Act.

In the present case, the appellants had filed a joint petition under Section 13B (2) of the 1955 Act with mutual consent seeking for dissolution of marriage as the appellants were living separately and there was no chance of any re-union. However their petition was dismissed as the Family Judge noted that the parties have not mentioned the reasons for their separation.

Perusing the facts of the case, the Court observed that the parties have been living separately form 18.04.2014 and as per the affidavit presented by the appellants there has been no cohabitation between them since the stated date of separation. The Court observed that the only requisite of Section 13B (2) is that the parties applying for dissolution of marriage must be living separately for a period of one year or more, irrespective of any reason for doing so, and when the ingredient was satisfied by the appellants in the present case, it was unnecessary for the Family Court to enquire about the reasons behind their separation. As per the provision the only duty of the Family Court was to ensure that whether the marriage has been solemnised and that the averments in the petition are true. The Court also observed that when the parties were willing to part ways as their marriage had turned out to be a failure, the Family Court should have respected the sentiments of the parties and should have granted the divorce. With these observations, the Bench set aside the order of the Family Court and granted the decree for dissolution of the marriage of the appellants. [A.C. Mathivanan  v B. Sathyabama, 2016 SCC OnLine Mad 8884, decided on 03.08.2016]

 

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