Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 provides a legal framework for dissolution of marriage by mutual consent between husband and wife. This provision is applicable in all states of India and has been widely used as an alternative to lengthy and contested divorce proceedings.
In order to obtain divorce by mutual consent under Section 13B, both parties must agree to end their marriage on mutually agreed terms such as alimony, child custody, property distribution etc. The parties must also live separately for at least one year before filing for divorce.
This provision has been enacted with the objective of reducing animosity between spouses who have fallen out of love or cannot continue living together due to irreconcilable differences. It also aims to provide a speedy resolution to marital disputes without resorting to prolonged litigation.
The Indian judiciary has interpreted Section 13B through various case laws over the years. One important aspect that courts have highlighted is that the application filed by both sides seeking divorce should be in writing addressed jointly or separately signed by both parties after they come to an agreement on their terms.
In Sureshta Devi v Om Prakash [(1991) 2 SCC 25], it was held that “the power under section 13-B (1) can only be exercised when there are no allegations or claims regarding matrimonial cruelty or adultery”. Therefore, if either party raises any accusations against another spouse during separation period, then Section B does not apply here.
Also in Manish Goel v Rohini Goel [2010 (119) DRJ 569], the court clarified that “the requirement under this provision must strictly comply with provisions laid down therein” which means complying with cooling-off period requirements which require at least six months from the date they file petition until the day court grants them final decree confirming their decision once more than allowed limits mentioned above are met within sixty days before applying again accordingly
Similarly in Amardeep Singh v Harveen Kaur [(2017) 8 SCC 746] it was clarified that “decision to dissolve the marriage cannot be taken in a hasty or impulsive manner, as the repercussions of such decision are permanent and may cause mental agony and trauma.”
Therefore, it is essential that both parties enter into an agreement voluntarily without any coercion, misrepresentations or undue influence within their own wills.
In conclusion, Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act has provided an effective alternative for those seeking divorce by mutual consent. It has also been well-received by courts across India who strive to ensure a fair resolution of matrimonial disputes. However , there are certain requirements that must strictly comply with provisions laid down including cooling-off period before couples can approach court directly without much delay which must be considered seriously while going through this process.