SC verdict likely on Monday on dissolution of marriage without referring to family courts

The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce on Monday its verdict on a batch of petitions relating to the exercise of its vast powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to dissolve broken-down marriages between consenting couples without referring them to family courts for protracted judicial procee
SC verdict likely on Monday on dissolution of marriage without referring to family courts

New Delhi | The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce on Monday its verdict on a batch of petitions relating to the exercise of its vast powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to dissolve broken-down marriages between consenting couples without referring them to family courts for protracted judicial proceedings to get decrees of separation.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice S K Kaul is also expected to rule on the legal issue of whether the sweeping powers of the top court under the provision are inhibited in any manner in a scenario where a marriage has irretrievably broken down in the opinion of the court but one of the parties is resisting divorce.

Article 142 of the Constitution deals with the enforcement of decrees and orders of the apex court to do "complete justice" in any matter pending before it.

According to the apex court website, the bench, also comprising justices Sanjiv Khanna, A S Oka, Vikram Nath and J K Maheshwari, will deliver the verdict at 10.30 am on Monday.

Justice Khanna is expected to deliver the verdict on behalf of the bench which had reserved its judgement on September 29, 2022 on five petitions including the lead one filed by one Shilpa Sailesh way back in 2014.

While reserving its order, the court had said social changes take a "little time" and sometimes it is easier to bring a law but difficult to persuade society to change with it.

The apex court had acknowledged the large role a family plays in marriages in India.

Two questions, including whether the exercise of such jurisdiction by the SC under Article 142 should not be made at all or whether such exercise should be left to be determined in the facts of every case, were earlier referred to the Constitution bench.

One of the questions referred to it is what could be the broad parameters for the exercise of powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to dissolve a marriage between consenting parties without referring the parties to the family court to wait for the mandatory period prescribed under section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act.

On September 20, the apex court had said, "We do believe that another question which would require consideration would be whether the power under Article 142 of the Constitution of India is inhibited in any manner in a scenario where there is an irretrievable breakdown of marriage in the opinion of the court but one of the parties is not consenting to the terms." Having exercised its sweeping powers under Article 142 for more than two decades to annul "irretrievably broken marriages", the apex court had in September last year agreed to examine whether it can nullify marriages between estranged couples without both the partners consenting to it.

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