While delivering another ground breaking judgment on September 12, the Supreme Court has waived off the compulsory six-month “cooling off” period for divorce with mutual consent.
In order to speed up the separation process, the apex court has laid down directions for the lower court.
While giving the flexibility, a bench of justice Adesh Kumar Goyal and U.U. Lalit said, “We are in the view that period of mentioned in section 13B (2) of Hindu Marriage Act is not mandatory but directory, it will be open to the court to exercise its discretion in the facts and circumstances of each case”.
“The six month cooling off period can be waived off by the courts in cases of divorce through mutual consent,” it added.
“The object of the provision is to enable the parties to dissolve a marriage by consent if the marriage has irretrievably broken down and to enable them to rehabilitate them as per available options. The amendment was inspired by the thought that forcible perpetuation of status of matrimony between unwilling partners did not serve any purpose. The object of the cooling off period was to safeguard against a hurried decision if there was otherwise possibility of differences being reconciled,” it said.
The bench also said, “The object was not to perpetuate a purposeless marriage or to prolong the agony of the parties when there was no chance of reconciliation. Though every effort has to be made to save a marriage, if there are no chances of reunion and there are chances of fresh rehabilitation, the court should not be powerless in enabling the parties to have a better option.”
While explaining the objective behind the “cooling off” period the court said, “The object of the cooling off period was to safeguard against a hurried decision if there was otherwise possibility of differences being reconciled,” the bench said adding every effort should be done to save a marriage. “If there are no chances of reunion, the court should not be powerless in enabling the parties to have a better option.”