In 2023, India witnessed several significant changes in its divorce laws, reflecting a more modern approach to matrimonial disputes and rights. Here’s a summary of the key developments:
- Recognition of ‘Irreconcilable Differences’: On May 1, 2023, the Supreme Court of India recognized ‘irreconcilable differences’ as a ground for divorce under Hindu law. This marked a shift from the need to prove specific wrongdoings like adultery or cruelty for divorce.
- Introduction of No-Fault Divorce: The new rules introduced the concept of no-fault divorce, allowing couples to divorce without the necessity of proving specific wrongdoing. This was a significant departure from the previous requirements.
- Gender-Neutral Provisions: The 2023 amendments addressed gender bias in divorce proceedings, promoting equitable treatment of spouses. This included fair solutions in alimony, child custody, and property division.
- Speedier Divorce Proceedings: The new rule emphasized expedited divorce proceedings, introducing a time-bound process for resolving divorce cases. This was intended to reduce the emotional toll on the parties involved.
- Waiver of Cooling-Off Period: The Supreme Court stated that the 6-month waiting period for divorce under Section 13B(2) is discretionary and not mandatory, allowing lower courts to expedite divorce if both spouses agree.
- Unconstitutionality of Triple Talaq: The practice of triple talaq in Muslim law, where saying ‘Talaq’ three times constitutes a divorce, was declared unconstitutional. The Supreme Court found it discriminatory against women and in violation of their fundamental rights.
- Maintenance in Live-In Relationships: The court recognized live-in relationships as equivalent to marriage in legal terms, allowing women in such relationships to seek maintenance under the Criminal Procedure Code.
- Recognition of ‘Irretrievable Breakdown’ of Marriage: The Supreme Court affirmed that divorce could be granted in cases of an “irretrievable breakdown” of marriage without involving a family court, streamlining the process for couples.
These changes in 2023 reflected a significant evolution in India’s matrimonial laws, aiming to make the divorce process more accessible, fair, and efficient for all parties involved.