Section 13 of The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
Meaning and Scope
Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act provides for the grounds on which a marriage may be dissolved by a decree of divorce. It lists both the fault and no-fault grounds for divorce.
The following are the applicable grounds under Section 13:
- Adultery – If the spouse has committed adultery, the other spouse can seek divorce.
- Cruelty – If the spouse has subjected the other spouse to physical or mental cruelty, the aggrieved spouse can seek divorce.
- Desertion – If the spouse has deserted the other spouse without any reasonable cause for a continuous period of not less than two years, the other spouse can seek divorce.
- Conversion – If the spouse has ceased to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion, the other spouse can seek divorce.
- Mental Disorder – If the spouse has been suffering from a mental disorder that is incurable and that has made it impossible to live together, the other spouse can seek divorce.
- Leprosy – If the spouse has been suffering from leprosy for a continuous period of not less than two years, the other spouse can seek divorce.
- Venereal Disease – If the spouse has been suffering from a venereal disease in a communicable form, the other spouse can seek divorce.
- Renunciation – If the spouse has renounced the world and has become a sanyasi, the other spouse can seek divorce.
It is important to note that the grounds for divorce under Section 13 are not exhaustive, and the court may grant divorce on other grounds as well, depending on the circumstances of the case. Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act is not applicable under the following circumstances:
- If both the parties mutually agree for divorce, they can apply for a divorce by mutual consent under Section 13B of the Act.
- If the petitioner has already filed for divorce in a foreign court, then they cannot file a divorce petition again in India under Section 13.
- If the petitioner has already obtained a decree of nullity of marriage under any law in force in India, then they cannot file a divorce petition under Section 13.
- If the respondent has converted to another religion, the petitioner cannot file a divorce petition under Section 13 on the ground of desertion.
- If the petitioner has condoned the respondent’s adultery, they cannot file for divorce on the ground of adultery under Section 13.
The Act also lays down certain conditions that must be met before a petition for divorce can be filed. A party seeking divorce must prove following grounds and conditions before the court:
Valid marriage: The marriage must be legally recognized and valid under the Hindu Marriage Act or other applicable marriage laws in India.
Jurisdiction: The court where the petition for divorce is filed must have jurisdiction over the matter. Typically, this is the court in the place where the marriage was solemnized, where the parties last resided together, or where either spouse currently resides.
Duration of marriage: Generally, there is a requirement of a minimum period of marriage before filing for divorce. For example, under Section 13(1)(i) of the Hindu Marriage Act, a petition for divorce on the grounds of cruelty can be filed only after completing one year of marriage.
Grounds for divorce: Section 13 provides various grounds for divorce, such as cruelty, desertion, adultery, conversion to another religion, unsoundness of mind, or suffering from a venereal disease. The petitioner must establish the existence of the grounds for divorce as mentioned in Section 13.
No reconciliation: In certain cases, the court may require the parties to undergo counseling or mediation to explore the possibility of reconciliation before proceeding with the divorce.