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The Top Court set aside a Madras High Court's order dissolving the marriage of a couple, relying upon the principle of irretrievable breakdown of marriage to grant decree of divorce
The Supreme Court said that a court cannot resort to the principle of irretrievable breakdown of marriage without recording a finding on the aspect of cruelty by either of the parties while deciding divorce matters.
A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi set aside a Madras High Court's order dissolving the marriage of a couple, relying upon the principle of irretrievable breakdown of marriage to grant decree of divorce.
The high court had noted that the couple had been living separately for 12 years and forcing them to continue their relationship would mean prolonging their agony.
"We are of the opinion that the high court has committed error of law by relying on the principle of irretrievable breakdown of marriage to dissolve the marriage between the parties in a contested divorce proceeding. The high court, however, did not return any finding on allegations of cruelty on the part of the wife, on which the Family Court came to a specific conclusion," the bench said.
The Top Court opined that a decision on that count was necessary for proper adjudication of the appeals.
It set aside the judgment of the high court, to the extent it decreed divorce by dissolving the marriage between the parties. The bench, however, remanded the appeals to the high court for a fresh hearing.
In the instant case, Family Court, Erode passed an order for judicial separation instead of decree of divorce, upon a plea by the husband.
Though it did not grant decree of divorce, it recorded definite findings that certain acts of the wife which emerged from evidence to come within the “purview of cruelty.”
Both the husband and wife preferred appeals against the said order, before the high court, which by a common judgment of March 23, 2022 dissolved the marriage.
In the husband’s appeal, the main ground was that a decree of divorce ought to have been granted upon findings of cruelty. The wife, on her part, contested the Family Court's order of judicial separation.
Hearing the appeal filed by the wife, the Top Court noted the high court had applied the principle of irretrievable breakdown of marriage to grant decree of divorce by dissolving the marriage between the parties.
"The high court has dealt with the evidence in detail but there is no finding that cruelty was meted out by the appellant-wife to the respondent-husband. That aspect of the judgment of the Family Court was not addressed to in the judgment under appeal," the bench said.
The high court, in its order, had noted that the parties had been living separately for more than 12 years. "The endeavour to bring re-conciliation between the parties failed, resultantly, the marriage is dead, both emotionally and practically. Continuance of the relationship for namesake is prolonging the agony and affliction would be a cruelty to both the parties. Therefore, we are of the considered opinion that the marriage between the parties has broken down irretrievably and the parties could no longer live together as husband and wife," it had said.
Case Title: V.E. MAYA V. K.S. VETRIVEL
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