The Supreme Court in the matter of Sri Rakesh Raman v/s Smt. Kavita held that an irretrievably broken marriage can be read as cruelty a ground under section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act for dissolution of the marriage.
Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Aniruddha Bose observed that in a case in which a couple had been living separately for 25 years and they barely lived as husband and wife, there were many cases filed by them against each other.
In 2009 the family court had allowed the husband’s petition for dissolution of marriage on the ground of cruelty however the Delhi High Court in 2011 reversed the decree of divorce.
The Supreme Court dealing with the appeal of the husband noted that the relationship between the parties has become acrimonious over the years and no child is born in wedlock as well.
The bench also observed that the irretrievably broken down marriage is not yet a ground for dissolution of marriage however a recommendation in this respect was made by the Supreme Court in Naveen Kohli versus Neelu Kohli (2006).
The Law Commission of India in its 71st and 217th report recommended that a marriage that has been De facto broken down needs to be de jure recognized as such by the law.
The bench in the present appeal observed that an irretrievably broken down of a marriage may not be a ground for dissolution of marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act but cruelty is and therefore continuation of this marriage would mean a continuation of cruelty.
The court observed that a marital relationship that has become more bitter over the years inflicts cruelty on both sides and to keep this broken marriage alive would be an injustice to both the parties.
Therefore marriage which has been broken down is retrievable & in our opinion is cruelty to both the parties in such a relationship and therefore is a ground for dissolution of marriage under section 13(1)(ia) of the Act.
However the Supreme Court also observed that mere filing of cases against the spouse will not amount to cruelty, the facts of the case have to be seen and that the marriage is beyond repair. The court stated that the present marriage must end as its continuation will result in cruelty to each other.
The court observed that there is a long separation and absence of cohabitation and there is a breakdown of all meaningful bonds and there exists bitterness between the parties therefore it has to be read as cruelty.
In light of the above grounds allowed the husband appealed and asked him to pay 30,00,000 as permanent alimony to the wife.