Grounds for Divorce in India: An In-Depth Guide
Marriage is considered to be a sacred bond in Indian society, but unfortunately, not all marriages end in a happily-ever-after. In some cases, divorce is the only option left for the couple to end their marital relationship. Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage, and it can be a complicated and emotional process. In India, there are several grounds for divorce recognized by law. Understanding the grounds for divorce is crucial for anyone seeking to end their marriage.
Grounds for Divorce under Different Personal Laws in India:
In India, different personal laws govern divorce for different religious communities. The grounds for divorce under these laws differ slightly from one another. Some of the major personal laws governing divorce in India are:
Hindu Marriage Act, 1955: This Act applies to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. The grounds for divorce under this Act are cruelty, adultery, desertion, conversion, unsoundness of mind, and incurable illness.
Special Marriage Act, 1954: This Act applies to people of all religions who choose to marry under it. The grounds for divorce under this Act are adultery, cruelty, desertion, conversion, impotency, venereal disease, and leprosy.
Indian Divorce Act, 1869: This Act applies to Christians in India. The grounds for divorce under this Act are adultery, cruelty, desertion, conversion, and incurable illness.
Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Act 1937: This Act applies to Muslims in India.
Grounds for Divorce in Detail: Let's take a closer look at the grounds for divorce under different personal laws in India:
Cruelty: This ground for divorce includes both physical and mental cruelty. Physical cruelty refers to any act of physical violence or harm inflicted on the spouse, while mental cruelty refers to any act that causes mental agony, stress, or emotional trauma to the spouse. In the case of Praveen Mehta vs Inderjit Mehta, the Supreme Court of India held that the degree of cruelty must be of such a nature that it endangers the spouse's life, limb, or health.
Adultery: This ground for divorce refers to the voluntary sexual relationship of one spouse with a person who is not their spouse. In the case of Sowmithri Vishnu vs Union of India, the Supreme Court of India held that to prove adultery, the petitioner must establish that the spouse has had sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex outside of the marriage.
Desertion: This ground for divorce refers to the abandonment of one spouse by the other without any reasonable cause or consent. Desertion must be continuous for a period of at least two years to be considered as a ground for divorce.
Conversion: This ground for divorce refers to the conversion of one spouse to another religion without the consent of the other spouse. In the case of Sarla Mudgal vs Union of India, the Supreme Court of India held that conversion to another religion by one spouse would be a valid ground for divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act.
Unsoundness of Mind: This ground for divorce refers to a spouse's unsoundness of mind, which makes it impossible for the other spouse to continue the marital relationship. The unsoundness of mind must be of such a nature that it prevents the spouse from understanding the nature and consequences of their actions.
Incurable illness: This ground for divorce refers to a spouse's incurable illness, which makes it impossible for the other spouse to continue the marital relationship. The illness must be of such a nature that it prevents the spouse from irretrievably, and there is no possibility of the parties reconciling. The parties must have been living separately for a continuous period of at least three years.
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