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SURESHTA DEVI V. OM PRAKASH

Sureshta Devi v. Om Prakash AIR 1992 SC 1904

ISSUE:

  • Whether the petition for divorce can be withdrawn?

RULE:

  • Section 13B(2) of the Hindu Marriage Act lays down that the filing of a divorce petition with mutual consent does not authorise the court to make a decree for divorce without a 6-18 month waiting period.
  • The section does not provide any indication that a change of mind must be by both parties and not by one alone.

FACTS:

  • Sureshta Devi and Om Prakash were married in 1968. They lived together for six to seven months and then they lived separately.
  • On 9th January 1985 they filed for divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act’s Section 13B.
  • On 15th January, Sureshta Devi filed an application stating that her statement on the 9th was obtained under pressure and she was not permitted to see or meet her relatives prior to making her statement. She prayed for its dismissal.
  • The matter was brought to a District Judge who dismissed the divorce petition, however, the High Court reversed this stating that a spouse cannot unilaterally withdraw her consent from a divorce. Furthermore, the High Court found no force, fraud or undue influence.

HELD:

  • The Supreme Court held that Section 13B, mutual consent must continue until a court passed the decree of divorce. Consent was considered a sine qua non for passing a decree of divorce under 13B.
  • The court further observed that the High Courts had proceeded on the grounds that the crucial time for giving consent was the time of filing of the petition, this was considered untenable and the real-time of giving consent was considered when the parties move for a decree of divorce.
  • The court ruled that it is open to a spouse to withdraw the consent given to a petition any time before a Court passes a decree for divorce.