A family court in Delhi, while hearing a divorce case recently, observed that prenuptial agreements should be made mandatory before people get married to make couples aware of the risks of marriage and to avoid mental cruelty.
The court of Judge Harish Kumar was hearing the case of a couple, who got married in Uttar Pradesh in 2011, which refused to get a divorce with mutual consent accusing each other of committing cruelty.
“Time has come to make a compulsory prenuptial agreement to be executed before appointed authority after counselling of the parties about the possible risk of marriage going haywire for a variety of reasons and making it mandatory to report breach every time a breach occurs under…. making it further clear that if the breach is not reported he/she would not be heard later on,” said Judge Kumar while dissolving the marriage of the couple.
The court also observed that even before the couple had a child in 2014, differences ‘beyond their respective tolerance’ had started emerging between the couple following which they had approached various authorities to get their grievances redressed.
The man had filed a divorce petition in 2016 alleging cruelty before a family court in Mumbai. Following this, the wife had also alleged cruelty and filed a divorce petition citing sections of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
The matter was later shifted to the Delhi court in February 2023.
The court observed that while both parties were willing to break their marriage, they couldn’t agree on divorce by mutual consent. According to law, the parties are required to file one petition together for the divorce.
Another condition imposed by law is that the parties should stay together for six to 18 months from the date of the divorce petition to reconsider their decision to dissolve their marriage.
“In the present case, their respective decisive willingness to dissolve their marriage is continuously present for the last seven years but simply because willingness/consent were not in the particular form required under Section 13B of the HMA both have been suffering because of each other’s respective pleaded case/stand,” observed Judge Kumar noting that except for the petition of mutual consent, all other ingredients were present.
Flagging the rise in such cases in India, the court said most of them do not involve “real cruelty” but the laws are designed in a way that leaves the couple with no option but to approach the court making allegations against each other.
According to recent National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, almost a third of cases of crimes against women were registered for “cruelty by husband or relatives”. However, the conviction rate in these were dismal.
The court further observed that refusing to grant the couple divorce would cause “law-induced mental cruelty” and that dissolving their marriage was the only way to “provide quietus to their unending matrimonial acrimony”.
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