Why is Inter-Religion Divorce So Complicated in India?

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The Special Marriage Act of 1954 is the legislation which deals with the personal laws related to marriage and its related aspects, for marriages that have occurred between two people belonging to two different religions. It provides for solemnization and registration of marriages on the one hand, but also provides for annulment of a marriage, declaring it void and obtaining a divorce.

Legislations like these important, especially in cities like Lucknow, where the demographics are such that people from different religions form a substantial portion of the population, resulting in an increased number of inter-religious ties. Unfortunately, the need for best divorce lawyers in Lucknow is also something that the people residing in such cities require on a regular basis.

This blog seeks to throw some light on the legal complexities that one might have to face while trying to secure a divorce for an inter-religion divorce under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

Why is Inter-Religion Divorce So Complicated in India


Section 27 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 is the provision for fault divorce on the following grounds:

1. Cruelty- If either of the spouse has treated the other spouse with cruelty, without any reasonable cause or wrongful act on behalf of the aggrieved spouse, then, the spouse who has been a victim of the cruelty, can file a petition for divorce.

2. Desertion- If one of the spouses has deserted the other spouse, without any reasonable cause or contribution of the other spouse in such act of desertion, the deserted spouse can file a petition for divorce if he/she can satisfy the court regarding the following:

(a) That the other spouse has deserted him/her without any substantial reason or contributing wrongful act on his/her part,
(b) That they have not been living as husband and wife, continuously for the past one year or more immediately before the filing of the petition,
(c) That they, even if living under the same roof, they have not been able to live as husband and wife during the stipulated time period.

3. Infidelity- If the petitioner spouse is able to satisfactorily prove to the court that the other spouse has had voluntary sexual intercourse with a third person, he/she is entitled to get a divorce on that ground.

4. Not Heard of for 7 years- If the petitioner spouse submits that the other spouse has not been heard of for the past seven years or more by any person who might have ordinarily known about his/her whereabouts, she/he can secure a divorce decree on that ground.

5. Leprosy- If one of the spouses is a patient of leprosy, the other spouse can file a petition for divorce on this ground.

6. Unsound Mind- If the aggrieved spouse proves that the other spouse has a mental disorder of such gravity that it would make it very difficult for the other spouse to live with him/her, the court will grant a divorce decree to the petitioner. The disorder need not be permanent. The explanation to this clause provides that even if the spouse gets frequent bouts of insanity, producing the same result, still the petitioner would be entitled to seek divorce.

7. Is suffering from a venereal disease in a communicable form- If the other spouse is suffering from a venereal disease, which is capable of being transmitted to the healthy spouse, the healthy spouse can seek divorce.

8. Is a guilty criminal offence- If the other spouse has been held guilty of any criminal offence defined under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, having a punishment of seven years or more under the same code, the other spouse can avail of the solution of divorce in such a situation.

The only fault ground that is absent in the above-mentioned list but is present under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is the ground relating to, ‘renunciation of the world’, by the spouse at fault.

Apart from these grounds, there also exists the possibility of mutual consent divorce under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, the statutory backing for the same is provided in Section 8 of the Act of 1954.

Both the parties to a marriage will have to present a joint petition before the court asking for divorce on the ground that they have been living separately for the past one year immediately prior to the petition or more. Six months post such a petition and not later than eighteen months, if neither of the spouses has chosen to withdraw his/her consent, they have to file a joint petition for the second time and the court shall grant them a divorce decree if it has been one year or more since the date of issue of their marriage certificate, provided the court is satisfied that the consent of neither of the parties has been vitiated or been affected by undue influence.

Apart from these, a woman can also seek divorce if an order under Section 18 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act or under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or any other provision having the same effect has been passed against the husband and he has faulted in obeying it.

Moreover, a couple which has not resumed cohabitation even one year after the passing of an order of either restitution of conjugal rights or that of judicial separation has been passed against them, either of the parties to the marriage can file a petition for divorce.

Therefore, it can be safely concluded that divorce for inter-religion divorces are slightly more complicated than same religion marriages.


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