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The Supreme Court has granted divorce to two district judges in West Bengal, who separated from each other 17 years ago, by exercising its special power under the Constitution, considering that the breakdown of their marriage was "irretrievable".
A bench of Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao allowed the appeal of the husband against Calcutta High Court's 2012 order dismissing his divorce petition, while considering that his wife was not interested in living with him as she never appeared before any court during the proceedings.
"Refusal to participate in proceeding for divorce and forcing the appellant (husband) to stay in a dead marriage would itself constitute mental cruelty," the bench said.
The high court had dismissed the man's plea for divorce, while holding that the irretrievable breakdown of marriage cannot be a ground for divorce and he had also failed to prove cruelty on her part.
The apex court set aside the high court order in order to do "complete justice" and invoked its power under Article 142 of the Constitution to grant divorce.
"In the peculiar facts of this case and in order to do complete justice between the parties, we allow the appeal in exercise of our power under Article 142 of the Constitution," the bench said.
A marriage can be dissolved if the Court finds that it is "totally unworkable, emotionally dead, beyond salvage and has broken down irretrievably, even if the facts of the case do not provide a ground in law on which the divorce could be granted."
The judges had got married in 1992 and gave birth to a daughter in 1993. However, due to differences, they got separated in 2000.
In 2005, the husband moved a divorce petition in a district court alleging that the woman behaved inappropriately and had no respect for his ailing father.
He had alleged that she had deserted him, taken away the child and threatened to file criminal cases against him if he sought divorce. The woman, however, had denied the allegations and sought dismissal of the divorce petition.
A West Bengal district court had dismissed the plea in 2009, which was upheld by the Calcutta High Court in 2012.
The apex court, while granting them divorce, said, "admittedly, the Appellant and the Respondent have been living separately for more than 17 years and it will not be possible for the parties to live together and there is no purpose in compelling the parties to live together in matrimony.