Explained: How Indian courts have seen mental cruelty as grounds for divorce
When it was first passed, the Hindu Marriage Act did not have ‘cruelty’ as a ground for divorce. It was after an amendment in 1976 that this basis became available for seeking both divorce and judicial separation.
-By Mohd Rameez Raza & Neha Tripathi
The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (‘Act’ hereafter) lays down marital laws that are applicable to Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs. Up until the 1970s, the ground for divorce under the Act did not include ‘cruelty’. The various grounds were: voluntary sexual intercourse with any other person than his or her spouse; ceasing to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion; being incurable of unsound mind; desertion for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition. In 1976, the word ‘cruelty’ was introduced under Section 13 (1)(ia) of the Act. Immediately after this introduction, many conclusions were made on its basis by the courts and the provision was interpreted in many ways. This article will examine the various interpretations of Section 13 (1)(Ia) made by the Indian courts of law and why we need an…
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