A division bench of Delhi High Court held that Family Courts cannot grant divorce on ground of Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage.
From Para 4,
4. The Respondent also alleged that from the very first day of marriage, Appellant created scenes at night hours and most of the times did not allow him to enjoy his conjugal rights. She refused him to have access to her and inflicted cruelty upon him. He further alleged that he was allowed by the Appellant only 30-35 times (approximately) to enjoy conjugal relations since their marriage.
From Para 7 and 8,
7. In respect of the ground of cruelty, the Family Court has held that “there was no normal and healthy sexual relationships between (Respondent) and his wife (Appellant) and same has resulted in striking at the very foundation of their marriage. It has been well settled that normal and healthy sexual Relationships between both spouse is one of the basic ingredients for happy and harmonious marriage as the marriage without sex is an anathema. Sex is foundation of marriage and without a vigorous and harmonious sexual activity it would be impossible for any marriage to continue.”
8. The Family Court after holding that there was denial of conjugal relations, noticed that parties had been living separately for more than 11 years and held that the marriage had broken down beyond repair and thus held that the Respondent had successfully established cruelty and thus granted a decree of divorce against the Appellant.
From Para 17,
17. Said ground is clearly not available to the Respondent and the Family Court has erred in returning a finding that there is denial of conjugal relationship by the Appellant. The allegations of the Respondent of denial of conjugal relationship are vague and without any specifics. He has alleged that he was allowed by the Appellant only 30-35 times (approximately) to enjoy conjugal relations since their marriage. This clearly shows that there was never any complete denial.
From Para 25,
Deepti Vs Anil Kumar on 19 Sep 2023
25. In terms of the Judgment of the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in Shilpa Sailesh (supra), the power to grant divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage is exercised by the Supreme Court under Article 142 of the Constitution of India to do complete justice to both the parties. Such a power is not vested in the High Courts leave alone the Family Courts.
26. In the instant case, the Family Court has merely considered the fact that the parties have lived separately for 11 years and granted divorce on the ground of breakdown of marriage. Such an exercise of powers is not conferred on the Family Court. Family Courts have to restrict their considerations to the parameters of the provision of grant of divorce strictly in accordance with the Act. Irretrievable breakdown of marriage is not a ground in the Act.
27. Even the Supreme Court while considering exercise of discretionary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India takes into account several factors and longevity of period is only one of them. Reference may be had to Para 41 of Shilpa Sailesh (supra) extracted hereinabove. Supreme Court has placed a word of caution that “grant of divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage by this Court is not a matter of right, but a discretion which is to be exercised with great care and caution, keeping in mind several factors ensuring that ‘complete justice’ is done to both parties. It is obvious that this Court should be fully convinced and satisfied that the marriage is totally unworkable, emotionally dead and beyond salvation and, therefore, dissolution of marriage is the right solution and the only way forward. That the marriage has irretrievably broken down is to be factually determined and firmly established.”
28. In the present case, the Family Court has erred in travelling beyond the scope of its powers to grant divorce.