SC invokes ‘inherent powers’ and grants a decree of divorce to a couple living separately for 17 years

Supreme Court under Article 142 of the Constitution of India can invoke its inherent powers to do ‘complete justice’. In the divorce petition filed by a district judge of West Bengal, whose wife, also a district judge, were living separately for the past 17 years. The apex court granted divorce exercising its power to do complete justice.

The couple in the present case are district judges in the state of West Bengal. The Appellant’s (husband) petition for divorce was rejected on the ground that he failed to prove cruelty on the part of his wife. The high court also dismissed the appeal by holding that irretrievable breakdown of marriage cannot be a ground for divorce.

The respondent (wife) did not appear before the family court after filing of written statement. She also did not appear before the high court as well as the Supreme Court.The court noting the said conduct on her part, said it indicated that she was not interested in living with the husband.

The respondent’s denial to participate in proceedings for divorce and forcing the appellant to stay in a dead marriage would itself constitute mental cruelty, the bench said by relying upon Samar Ghosh vs Jaya Ghosh case.

The court in a series of judgements before also invoked Article 142 of the Constitution for dissolution of a marriage where the court finds that the marriage is totally unworkable, emotionally dead, beyond salvage and has broken down irretrievably, even if the facts of the case do not provide a ground in law on which the divorce could be granted.

Thus, the Supreme Court allowed the appeal and granted divorce to the couple.


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