The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, October 14, 2022, that despite the husband’s request, it would not use its broad authority granted by Article 142 to annul a marriage that had “irretrievably broken down” while the wife still desired to save the union.
The bench said, “In India, getting married is not a casual affair. We have not yet attained Western norms of ‘marriage today, divorce tomorrow.’ You are both highly educated and may adopt Western thought, but powers under Article 142 cannot be used to annul the marriage when one partner refuses.”
An SC bench of Justices Sanjay K. Kaul and Abhay S. Oka refused to dissolve a marriage on the husband’s plea when the woman wanted to make it work, saying the marriage had only lasted 40 days and the young couple had to make a real effort to sort out their problems. The bench directed the pair to a private mediator. The court noticed that the estranged couple was well-educated; the husband was involved with the United Nations and operated an NGO, and the wife had permanent residency in Canada.
The wife testified that she left everything in Canada to marry the man after a brief connection developed over Facebook and a meeting of families, while the husband appealed with the court repeatedly to cancel the marriage.
“In the marriage, only when both spouses are irreconcilably estranged could power under Article 142 be exercised. Before the court would accept the fact that the couple’s marriage is irretrievably broken, both parties must concur. When one of the parties is prepared to make reparations to make the marriage work, it is very difficult to state that the marriage has irretrievably failed, “the SC declared.
The husband said that there has been resentment for the past 18 months and that neither party has taken any positive steps to save the marriage. The bench reminded him that the woman had travelled from Canada, leaving her job, to marry him. Judge Kaul stated, “In any case, it seems like a rash decision was made. A successful marriage requires both partners to make adjustments, which can take more than simply 40 days to grasp. You can’t agree to get married one day and then later change your mind, making it difficult on the woman.”
The bench designated former Punjab and Haryana high court chief judge S J Vazifdar as a mediator and asked him to seek the advice of a marriage counsellor. It asked the mediator to submit a report in three months.