New Delhi, Sept 13: In a path-breaking ruling, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said the mandatory six-month cooling-off period can be waived for granting a divorce on the ground of mutual consent. The apex court said the six-month colling-off period mentioned in section 13B(2) of the Hindu Marriage Act 1995 is not mandatory but directory. In simple words: a Hindu couple need not wait for six months for a divorce order in the case of mutual consent and the marriage can be legally terminated in just a week.

To explore the possibility of settlement, the Hindu Marriage Act provides for a statutory cooling period of six months between the first and the last motion for seeking divorce by mutual consent. The estranged couples, who are seeking divorce with mutual consent, can file waiver application after a week of filing the first motion and the minimum period of six months can be relaxed, a bench comprising Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit said.

The Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act 1995 deals with divorce. Section 13B (2) of Hindu Marriage Act says, “On the motion of both the parties made not earlier than six months after the date of the presentation of the petition referred to in sub-section (1) and not later than eighteen months after the said date, if the petition is not withdrawn in the meantime, the court shall, on being satisfied, after hearing the parties and after making such inquiry as it thinks, that a marriage has been solemnised and that the averments in the petition are true, pass a decree of divorce declaring the marriage to be dissolved with effect from the date of the decree.”

A Hindu man or woman can seek divorce on the ground that the other party —

  • has had voluntary sexual intercourse with any person other than his or her spouse
  • has treated his/her partner with cruelty
  • has abandoned his/her partner for at least a period of two years
  • has converted to other religion from Hinduism
  • has been suffering from a virulent and incurable form of leprosy; or
  • has been suffering from venereal disease in a communicable form; or
  • has renounced the world by entering any religious order; or
  • has not been heard of as being alive for a period of seven years or more by those persons who would naturally have heard of it, had that party been alive
  • has been incurably of unsound mind, or has been suffering continuously or intermittently from mental disorder of such a kind and to such an extent that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent

Apart from this, there are certain grounds mentioned in the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 in which the only wife can seek a divorce. Here are the conditions:

  • If the husband has indulged in rape, bestiality and sodomy
  • If the husband has again married another woman in spite of the first wife being alive
  • If she was married before the age of fifteen and renounces the marriage before she attains eighteen years of age.
  • If there is no cohabitation for one year and the husband neglects the judgment of maintenance awarded to the wife by the court

Divorce by mutual consent is addressed under Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. To seek divorce under this section of Hindu Marriage Act, the couple must meet the below requirements:

  • The parties have been living separately for a period of at least one year
  • They have not been able to live together, and
  • They have mutually agreed that marriage should be resolved

(With inputs from indiankanoon.org and lawfarm.in)