Supreme Court: Holding that the minimum period of six months stipulated under Section 13B(2) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for a motion for passing decree of divorce on the basis of mutual consent is not mandatory but directory, the bench of AK Goel and UU Lalit, JJ said that it will be open to the Court to exercise its discretion in the facts and circumstances of each case where there is no possibility of parties resuming cohabitation and there are chances of alternative rehabilitation.
The Court also said that in conducting such proceedings the Court can also use the medium of video conferencing and also permit genuine representation of the parties through close relations such as parents or siblings where the parties are unable to appear in person for any just and valid reason as may satisfy the Court, to advance the interest of justice.
Waiver of the statutory period under Section 13B(2) can be done after considering the following:
- the statutory period of six months specified in Section 13B(2), in addition to the statutory period of one year under Section 13B(1) of separation of parties is already over before the first motion itself;
- all efforts for mediation/conciliation including efforts in terms of Order XXXIIA Rule 3 CPC/Section 23(2) of the Act/Section 9 of the Family Courts Act, 1984 to reunite the parties have failed and there is no likelihood of success in that direction by any further efforts;
- the parties have genuinely settled their differences including alimony, custody of child or any other pending issues between the parties;
- the waiting period will only prolong their agony.
The court also said that the waiver application can be filed one week after the first motion giving reasons for the prayer for waiver and if the above conditions are satisfied, the waiver of the waiting period for the second motion will be in the discretion of the concerned Court. [Amardeep Singh v. Harveen Kaur, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1073, decided on 12.09.2017]