Previously, it was thought that weddings were prearranged in heaven. Therefore, the issue of being apart from one another seemed a far cry. But over time, social reformers who believed that a woman should not be bound to a man who lacked even the most basic attributes that a decent spouse should possess began to reject this idea. Hindu reformers occasionally pushed for drastic revisions to the provisions of Hindu Law, but the British government disapproved of any such attempts.
Eight years after the nation gained independence, the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 was created. The reasons on which the parties may ask a competent court with jurisdiction to grant a divorce decree are covered by Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act. A legal separation between two people of the same sex who want to respect and honor one another is what is meant by the term "divorce" in its literal definition.
The term “Irretrievable Breakdown” means that a married couple can no longer live as husband and wife. The court will need proof from both couples as well as one partner that there is no hope of reconciliation given how badly the marriage has broken down. For irretrievable divorce, there is still no defined law. There are few grounds for dissolution of marriage in Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that, in accordance with its authority to "do complete justice" under Article 142, it may dissolve a marriage on the grounds that it had irretrievably broken down without referring the parties to a family court, where they would have to wait 6–8 months for a divorce by mutual consent.
The Supreme Court has declared that it has the authority to dissolve a marriage if it has irretrievably broken down in the case of Shilpa Sailesh vs. Varun Sreenivasan (2023). Even if one of the parties was unwilling, the court could disregard the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, six-month waiting time requirement and grant the divorce on the grounds of irretrievable collapse.
Also, The Law Commission of India has vehemently advocated for the inclusion of "irretrievable breakdown of marriage" as a separate reason for obtaining a divorce under Hindu law in its 71st Report. Additionally, it emphasizes the three-year separation mark as a sign of a breakdown.
The court will accept the following types of evidence as examples of irretrievable breakdown:
The introduction of the basis of irretrievable breakup of marriage into the divorce statute is fraught with five major issues. The details whereof are mentioned below;
The Supreme Court ruled that unhappy situations shouldn't be allowed to linger forever and that it was in everyone's best interests to dissolve a marriage that couldn't be saved. The court found that the husband was the victim of his wife's financial, bodily, and mental harassment. According to the ruling, both the husband and wife were the targets of character assassination accusations, but these accusations had not been proven. The court noted that despite efforts to reach an amicable agreement, there was no longer any goodwill between the parties and, as a result, no chance of reestablishing the couples' marital bond.
In this case, The Court reaffirmed and adopted the stance that the marriage between the parties has irretrievably broken down because they have been living separately for more than three years. There is absolutely no probability of their ever meeting. Therefore, in such circumstances, the Court grants the divorce decision.
In this case, the Supreme Court after examining the matter came to the following conclusion:
When the respondent prioritizes her career over her husband's freedom, it obliquely leads to discord, diffusion, and dissolution of marital unity, from which the Court can infer an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
The husband was given a divorce after the court determined that the marriage was irretrievably dissolved. However, this is highly surprising because in many cases involving comparable circumstances, the court has ordered the recovery of conjugal rights, using the idea that a Hindu marriage is sacred as the very basis of the ruling for restitution.
The concept of irretrievable breakdown of marriage reflects the changing legal landscape and societal dynamics in India. While it acknowledges the reality of failed marriages and provides an avenue for individuals to move on from unviable unions, it also raises questions about its impact on traditional values. Striking a balance between individual rights and societal norms remains a challenge. As Indian society continues to evolve, the concept's implications will shape the future of family law and relationships. If you are dealing with such issues related to irretrievable breakdown of marriage, it is advisable to contact a divorce/family lawyer in your city. For instance, if you are residing in Kolkata, you should consult a family/divorce lawyer in Kolkata.