Bom HC | Can “cooling-off period” under S. 13-B(2) of Hindu Marriage Act be waived? Legal position discussed in a case of pregnant woman

Bombay High Court: Nitin W. Sambre, J., allowed an application seeking waiver of the cooling-off period on an urgent basis in light of woman carrying pregnancy from another person.

Parties to the instant matter tendered the joint petition for divorce by mutual consent pursuant to the provisions of Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

The above-stated proceedings were initiated before the Family Court and accompanied with the application for waiving statutory period provided under Section 13B (2) of the Hind Marriage Act, 1955. But the same was rejected by the impugned order dated 09-9-2020.

Petitioners Counsel submitted that the parties stayed separately since December 2018 till date and are unable to live together.

Another significant point to that was brought before the Court was that the petitioner was carrying pregnancy from another person with whom she intends to settle by performing marriage and that being so, there is an urgency in the matter.

Respondents Counsel consented to the submissions made by the Petitioner Counsel and submitted that he is equally supporting the Petitioners case for waiving the statutory period.

Bench perused the Supreme Court’s decision in Amardeep Singh v. Harveen Kaur, (2017) 8 SCC 746, wherein it was observed that:

“…Section 13B(2) contains a bar to divorce being granted before six months of time elapsing after filing of the divorce petition by mutual consent. The said period was laid down to enable the parties to have a rethink so that the court grants divorce by mutual consent only if there is no chance for reconciliation.

The object of the cooling off the period was to safeguard against a hurried decision if there was otherwise possibility of differences being reconciled. 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.”

In the present matter, Court opined that in the present matter it will be appropriate in the fitness of things, particularly having regard to the medical/health condition of the petitioner, to allow the joint application moved for waiving the period as specified under Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act.

High Court directed the Family Court to decide the divorce application expeditiously. [Kovelamudi Kanika Dhillon v. Kovelamudi Surya Prakash Rao,  2020 SCC OnLine Bom 2054, decided on 26-10-2020]

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