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Divorce cannot be granted without hearing both parties: SC

SC has come down heavily on a matrimonial court for granting divorce to a woman without hearing her estranged husband,saying marriage is an institution of 'great social relevance' and is not for mere 'sexual gratification'.

The Supreme Court has come down heavily on a matrimonial court for granting divorce to a woman without hearing her estranged husband,saying marriage is an institution of “great social relevance” and is not for mere “sexual gratification”.

“Marriage is certainly not a mere reciprocal possession of sexual organs…nor can it be romanticised as a relationship,” a three-judge bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and justices P Sathasivam and Asok Kumar Ganguly said.

The apex court’s observation came in a verdict while dismissing the appeal of Smruti Paharaya,who had challenged the Bombay High Court judgment,quashing the divorce decree passed by a lower court without hearing her estranged husband.

Her husband challenged the divorce in the High Court on the ground that he was not heard by the Bandra matrimonial court which advanced the actual date of hearing without giving him the intimation.

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“This court strongly disapproves of the aforesaid manner in which the proceeding was conducted in this case. A court’s proceeding must have a sanctity and fairness. It cannot be conducted for the convenience of one party alone,” the bench observed.

“Marriage is an institution of great social relevance and with social changes,this institution has also changed correspondingly. However,the institution of marriage is subject to human frailty and error,” the apex court observed.

The Bombay High Court had quashed the divorce decree following which the woman filed an appeal in the apex court.

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Dismissing the appeal,the apex court said the matrimonial court has a statutory obligation to hear the parties to ascertain their consent.

It pointed out that the matrimonial court had originally fixed the date on December 10,2007,but had subsequently advanced the date to December 5,2007 without intimating the same to the husband.

“This,in our opinion,is a flagrant abuse of the judicial process and on this ground alone,the divorce decree has to be set aside,” the bench said.

First published on: 26-05-2009 at 10:27:03 am
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