Panchayati Divorce has no Legal Sanctity: Punjab & Haryana HC

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While recalling that the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 is a full Code and proviso for the marriage arrangements as well as the divorce process is mentioned in detail. Last month, the Punjab and Haryana High Court explained that in the eyes of the constitution, a ‘Panchayati’ divorce has no recognition. 

The Bench of Justice Alka Sarin found that all customs such as ‘Panchayati’ divorce and similar uses ceased to have force in view of Section 4 of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955. 

The Matter,

A Criminal Writ Petition was heard by the Court seeking guidance for respondent Nos.2 to 4 to safeguard the lives of the petitioners (both major) by supplying them with police assistance. Furthermore, it was alleged that the family of petitioner No.2 were opposed to the relationship between the petitioners and that the petitioners believed that they were in danger of their life and liberty. 

As per Sikh rituals and ceremonies, the petitioners were married on 21 January 2021 at Gurudwara Dashmesh Pita, Kharar. 

It was further submitted that on 19 June 2017, petitioner No.1 was previously married to one Mandeep Kaur and had taken a Panchayati Divorce, while petitioner No.2 was previously married to one Harjinder Singh and had a divorce under Section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act, a vacant judgment of 1955, and a decree of 14 July 2000.

Courts Observation,

On a question put to the petitioners’ counsel regarding the marital status of petitioner No.1, Nishan Singh, it was stated that he was divorced from Panchayati. 

“Strangely, the learned counsel is relying upon a Panchayati divorce which has no recognition in the eyes of law. There is no decree of dissolution of marriage of petitioner No.1 by a Court of competent jurisdiction and his first marriage subsists in the eyes of law.” 

“The learned judge has not been able to demonstrate as to how this Tribunal can provide security to the petitioners as a couple when petitioner No.1 has not legally divorced his previous spouse. The petitioner Nos.1 and 2 are alleged to be have got married despite petitioner No.1 securing a legally valid divorce with his first wife.” 

The Court also noted that the purported marriage between petitioner No.1 and petitioner No.2 itself would be unconstitutional and would be contrary to the rules of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, since this marriage was performed without the lawful divorce of petitioner No.1.

Courts held that,

The Court, recalling that, for the security of their lives and right to live as a couple, the petitioners have approached the Court, which cannot be considered in the facts and circumstances of the present case. “However, as a person either of the petitioners, if they suspect any threat to their life or liberty, would be eligible to move the Police for redressal of their allegations regarding threats to their life and liberty.” 

Thus, while maintaining that the present petition is not maintainable at the behest of the petitioners who have been marrying without the legitimate and correct divorce of petitioner No.1, the Court stated. “The appellants, as persons, will always be at liberty to petition the concerned Senior Superintendent of Police for redress of grievances of their apprehensions regarding threats to their life and liberty.” 

Finally, the Court required the officer(s) involved to recognize their representation (if made) in compliance with legislation.

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‘Law is not law if it violates the principles of eternal Justice’ very beautifully penned down by Lydia Maria Child and I strongly believe, if the law is not made for the goods of people then at least it should not violate the essence of the principle of law that is “JUSTICE”. Law is made to keep each section of society on an equal platform and being a member of the law fraternity, I will try to contribute to the welfare of society. I am Purnima and I graduated from zoology (Hons) and am currently pursuing a law degree from Lloyd law college, Greater Noida. My desire is to bring a fair and unjust environment to our society through my hard work and persistent efforts.