The Bombay High Court recently granted divorce to an estranged couple who had been living separately for over two decades, opining that the marriage between the two was nothing but fiction.
A bench comprising Justice Amjad Sayed and Justice Suresh Gupte noted that the only contact between them in this period was through a few phone calls 12 years ago, and observed, “The only contact they have had so far was through a few phone calls made before 2006. We are today in 2018; twenty years have elapsed since their separation during which there was no single attempt to resume cohabitation. Their only son is now 23 years and has lived apart from his father for over twenty years.
Is there any sanctity or, for that matter, even semblance of a purpose left in continuing this legal tie? Is there any stake of either party or, for that matter, of the society in preserving this broken marriage? To our mind the answer seems to be clear. It would be unjust not to sever the marital tie in the facts of the case. Justice, consistent with good conscience, demands that the marriage be dissolved.”
The court was hearing an appeal filed by one Shailendra Madhukar Bhalerao, challenging an order passed by the family court which had rejected his petition for divorce under Section 13(1)(ib) (desertion) of the Hindu Marriage Act.
The couple got married in December, 1994 and had a son, who is now 23. They have, however, been living separately since February, 1998. The only communication that they had was through a few phone calls before 2006. The husband had now asserted that the wife had deserted him, that the statutory period of separation has long passed by, and that the divorce ought to be granted.
Granting his plea, the high court took into account the ‘inordinate’ long period of separation between them and opined that there was animus deserendi or intention to bring cohabitation permanently to an end on their part.
“There has been such inordinately long period of separation, where the initial cause of separation can now be said to be hardly relevant, that the marriage between the parties can be said to be nothing but a fiction. There is practically no hope for any revival or survival. The matrimonial bond exists, if at all, only in form and not one bit in substance,” it observed, asserting that their marriage has “wholly and hopelessly lost its raison d’etre”.
The impugned order was, therefore, quashed, with the court granting a decree of divorce on the ground of separation.