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'Panchayati Divorce' Has No Legal Sanctity, Such Customs Ceased To Exist After Formulation Of Hindu Marriage Act: P&H High Court

Sparsh Upadhyay
5 Feb 2021 10:20 AM GMT
Panchayati Divorce Has No Legal Sanctity, Such Customs Ceased To Exist After Formulation Of Hindu Marriage Act: P&H High Court
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While noting that the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is a complete Code and provides for the conditions of marriage as well as the procedure for divorce, the Punjab and Haryana High Court last month clarified that a 'Panchayati' divorce has no recognition in the eyes of law. The Bench of Justice Alka Sarin observed that in view of Section 4 of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955 all customs...

While noting that the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is a complete Code and provides for the conditions of marriage as well as the procedure for divorce, the Punjab and Haryana High Court last month clarified that a 'Panchayati' divorce has no recognition in the eyes of law.

The Bench of Justice Alka Sarin observed that in view of Section 4 of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955 all customs like 'Panchayati' divorce and related usages ceased to have effect.

The matter before the Court

The Court was hearing a Criminal Writ Petition seeking direction to respondent Nos.2 to 4 to safeguard the lives of the petitioners (both major) by providing police help to them.

It was further alleged that the relatives of petitioner No.2 are against the relationship of the petitioners and the petitioners contended that they are apprehending danger to their life and liberty.

The petitioners got married on 21st January 2021 at Gurudwara Dashmesh Pita, Kharar as per Sikh rites and ceremonies.

It was further submitted that petitioner No.1 was earlier married to one Mandeep Kaur and had taken a Panchayati Divorce on 19th June 2017, whereas, petitioner No.2 was earlier married to one Harjinder Singh and had got a divorce under Section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 vide judgment and decree dated 14th July 2000.

Court's Observations

On a query put to the counsel for the petitioners as to the marital status of petitioner No.1, Nishan Singh, it was stated that he got a Panchayati divorce.

To this, the Court said,

"Strangely, the learned counsel is relying upon a Panchayati divorce which has no recognition in the eyes of law. There is no decree of dissolution of marriage of petitioner No.1 by a Court of competent jurisdiction and his first marriage subsists in the eyes of law."

The Court further said,

"The learned counsel has also not been able to show as to how this Court can provide protection to the petitioners as a couple when petitioner No.1 has not legally divorced his earlier spouse. The petitioner Nos.1 and 2 are alleged to have got married without petitioner No.1 obtaining a legally valid divorce from his first wife."

The Court also observed that the alleged marriage itself between petitioner No.1 and petitioner No.2 would be illegal and against the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 inasmuch as this marriage has been contracted without the petitioner No.1 being legally divorced.

Court's Order

The Court, while noting that the petitioners have approached this Court for protection of their life and liberty to live as a couple which cannot be considered in the facts and circumstances of the present case, said,

"However, as an individual either of the petitioners, if they apprehend any threat to their life or liberty, would be entitled to approach the Police for redressal of their apprehensions regarding threats to their life and liberty."

Thus, while holding that the instant petition is not maintainable at the behest of the petitioners who have got married without petitioner No.1 being legally and validly divorced, the Court observed,

"The petitioners, as individuals, would always be at liberty to approach the concerned Senior Superintendent of Police for redressal of their apprehensions regarding threats to their life and liberty."

Lastly, the Court directed the concerned officer(s) to consider their representation (if made) in accordance with law.

Case title - Nishan Singh and another v. State of Punjab and others [CRWP No.763 of 2021 (O&M)]

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