Landmark Judgment: Delhi High Court Declares Marriage Null and Void, Cites Sapinda Relationship and Cruelty

New Delhi, September 5, 2023 – In a significant legal development, the Delhi High Court declared a marriage null and void on the grounds of sapinda relationship and cruelty. This landmark ruling has far-reaching implications for family law in India.

The case, recorded as MAT.APP.(F.C.) 220/2023, was filed by Mr. Naresh Kr. Babbar, the appellant, seeking a divorce or annulment of his marriage to Mrs. Seema, the respondent. The judgment, pronounced by the bench comprising HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE SURESH KUMAR KAIT and HON’BLE MS. JUSTICE NEENA BANSAL KRISHNA, has drawn attention due to its in-depth analysis and precedent-setting decisions.

Background of the Case

The parties involved in this case had entered into matrimony on May 4, 1992, adhering to Hindu rites and customs. However, their union was marked by disputes and allegations of cruelty. The appellant, Mr. Naresh Kr. Babbar, claimed that their marriage was void due to a sapinda relationship, as Smt. Shivani Ditti, the grandmother of the respondent, was the sister of the appellant’s father. He contended that this relationship fell within the prohibited degree outlined in section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

Furthermore, Mr. Babbar alleged various instances of cruelty, including disrespectful behavior, threats of false cases, and the demand for separate residence by Mrs. Seema. He also asserted that she failed to fulfill her marital obligations and denied him conjugal rights. The culmination of these factors led him to seek a divorce or annulment of the marriage.

Image of a Judge Hammer and Scales of Justice. Text overlay says "Sapinda Relationship- Marriage Null and Void"

Key Findings of the Court

The Delhi High Court meticulously examined the evidence presented by both parties and analyzed the legal aspects of the case. Here are the key findings and decisions:

    1. Sapinda Relationship: The Court acknowledged the sapinda relationship between the parties but considered the claim that such marriages were recognized as valid in the Jhang Community of Aroras and Khatris. However, the Court ruled that the custom and usage presented as evidence were insufficient to override the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, as they did not establish continuity, longevity, and uninterruptedness.

    2. Cruelty: The Court observed that the respondent, Mrs. Seema, had subjected the appellant to cruelty by consistently insisting on a separate residence, making threats, and failing to fulfill her marital duties. The Court cited previous judgments to establish that such behavior amounted to mental cruelty under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act.

    3. Nullity of Marriage: Ultimately, the Court declared the marriage null and void under Section 11 of the Hindu Marriage Act, as it fell within the prohibited degrees of sapinda relationship. Therefore, no decree of divorce was deemed necessary under Section 13.

Implications of the Judgment

This judgment by the Delhi High Court sets a precedent in family law cases. It emphasizes the need for clear and unambiguous evidence when claiming custom and usage to validate marriages within sapinda relationships. Additionally, it underscores that consistent cruelty in a marriage, as defined under the law, can have severe legal consequences.

Family law experts anticipate that this decision will be referenced in future cases involving sapinda relationships and cruelty, leading to a more comprehensive understanding of these issues in the context of Indian matrimonial law.

Download the complete judgment here: MAT.APP.(F.C.) 220/2023. This downloaded judgment from Delhi High Court’s official website, can serve as a valuable resource for legal reference in ongoing cases as well.

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