The military is an essential part of any nation. It protects the nation at the time of contingencies. Military persons in India are members of the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force of the Republic of India. Military Spouses are individuals whose husband or wife is a part of the Indian Military Services. Marriages between military couples take place as ordinary marriages, however, in various circumstances; the husband and wife have to live separately due to the transferable job of the one or both. Divorces are also equally prevalent among military spouses, 4 out of 10 marriages with military men result in Divorce.
There is no provision or clause for Divorce under the Army Act, 1950 rather the personal laws are given importance for this. Military officers following Hindu religion can file for Divorce under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Following are the grounds of Divorce available:
- Adultery– It is the act of indulging in sexual intercourse outside marriage. Earlier adultery was a criminal offense. After the 2018 amendment, section 497 of the Indian Penal Code is declared unconstitutional and adultery was decriminalized.
Recently, a petition was filed by the Ministry of Defence in the Supreme Court seeking to exempt armed forces from the 2018 judgment. It was contended that this concern will always run through the minds of Army personnel who are living far away from their families about the family indulging in unethical activity.
- Cruelty– Cruelty is the degradation of the physical or mental health of an individual by his/her spouse or their relatives. A spouse can file a divorce case if any injury is caused or there is a danger to the life, limb, and health of the other. Harming the reputation of a person in front of his friends and colleagues is a form of mental cruelty therefore it is a ground of divorce.
In the case of Joydeep Majumdar v. Bharti Jaiswal Majumdar, the appellant was an army officer whose wife wrote several complaints against him to his superiors and women’s rights bodies. The husband filed the petition for divorce on the ground of cruelty and the Supreme Court granted the divorce stating that the complaints lodged by the wife are false and due to this the career and reputation of the husband had suffered.
- Desertion– If any of the spouses has voluntarily abandoned his/her spouse for two years or more it becomes a ground for divorce. Staying away from family while fulfilling your duties or due to your job as in the case of military personnel does not make it a ground for divorce.
- Leprosy– It is a disease that affects the skin, mucous membranes, and nerves and causes discoloration and lumps on the skin. Any kind of virulent and incurable form of leprosy is a ground for divorce.
- Renunciation– A divorce petition can be filed if any of the spouses renounce the world and break all his ties from worldly affairs and devotes himself towards God or becomes a sanyasi.
- Mental Disorder– If any of the spouses suffer from an incurable form of mental disorder like schizophrenia it becomes a ground for divorce and a couple cannot be expected to stay together any longer.
- Venereal Disease– If any of the spouses is suffering from any communicable disease that can be easily spread like AIDS, then a divorce petition can be filed by the spouse of such person.
- Presumption of Death– If a person is not seen or heard for a continuous period of seven years by those who are expected to hear of him then he will be considered dead and it becomes a ground for divorce.
- Conversion– If any of the spouses converts his/her religion into any other religion, the other spouse can file for divorce for the same.
- No Resumption of Cohabitation– If the couple has failed to live together and is unable to resume their cohabitation after the decree of separation is passed, it becomes a ground for divorce.
There are several grounds on which wives have the right to file for the divorce petition. They are:
- If the husband has indulged in rape, sodomy, or bestiality.
- If the husband remarries despite the first wife being alive.
- If a girl was married before the age of fifteen and wants to break the marriage before she turns eighteen.
- If the couple has not co-habituated for one year and the husband has neglected the maintenance of the wife granted by the court.
Alimony after Divorce
A military officer is also liable to pay an amount for the maintenance of his wife and children after the divorce like any other ordinary civilian. The amount of maintenance is determined by the salary of the officer, the living standard of his wife, and the custody of the children. If the wife can maintain herself with the same standard which she was enjoying when she was married then she is not entitled to receive alimony. The Army does not have the jurisdiction to entertain claims for maintenance. It has the power to implement the order from the competent court or the central government. In the case of Capt. Suneel v. Union of India, it was held that the power to grant maintenance is the independent right of the court or central government. The Armed Forces Tribunal has no such rights to grant maintenance to wife and children; however, it has the jurisdiction to implement the order of the competent court. Army has no right to deduct alimony from the pay unless it is ordered by the competent court.
The military is considered to be an important part of our country because of which we can sleep peacefully. Marriage and Divorce laws for military personnel are similar to that of ordinary civilians. They enjoy all the benefits available for the ordinary citizens of India. They have similar grounds for divorce depending upon the religion they follow. The Army does not have the right to grant maintenance to the wives after the divorce. It is the power of the court to have competent jurisdiction to grant maintenance to the divorced wife and children. The divorce cases of military officials are filed before the family court and the Army or the Armed Forces Tribunals have no jurisdiction to entertain family law matters.
[i]. Joydeep Majumdar -Vs- Bharti Jaiswal Majumdar, CDJ 2021 SC 153.
[ii].Capt. Suneel vs Union Of India (UOI) And Ors., AIR 2004 Delhi 95.