Forms of customary divorce prevalent in certain areas and regions within the country have been consistently recognized: Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court has passed a judgement on 19-03-2021 in the case of Sh. Prahlad singh vs Smt. Seema MAT.APP. (F.C.) 45/2021 & CM APPLs. 10784-85/2021. Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli dismissed this appeal stating that they found no infirmity in the impugned order of family court.


The present appeal assails the judgment and order dated 20.05.2020 passed by the learned Additional Principal Judge, Family Court, Tis Hazari in HMA No. 261/2017 which had been preferred by the appellant seeking a decree of nullity declaring his marriage with the respondent as being null and void.

The marriage of the appellant Mr. Prahlad Singh with the respondent, Ms. Seema was solemnized, as per Hindu rites and customs, on 05.05.2009 in Delhi. They have a daughter from this wedlock. In 2017, the appellant/petitioner instituted HMA No 261/2017 before the learned Family Court on the ground that he had been duped into the marriage by the respondent. He claimed that the respondent had concealed her previous marriage to one Mr. Praveen Kumar, with whom her relationship had deteriorated to such an extent that both of them had registered FIRs against the other. The appellant further claimed that the respondent, before getting married to him, had not obtained a divorce from the said Mr. Praveen Kumar, which implied that their marriage was void ab initio.

Before the learned Family Court, the respondent contended that (i) she had never hidden her previous marriage from the respondent and that he knew of the same. She claimed that he had helped her obtain a customary divorce from Mr. Praveen Kumar; and that (ii) she had not committed any act of domestic violence against the family of the appellant and rather, it was her who had been subjected to the same. She even underwent a medical examination at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital after one such violent incident, which she could prove by way of the MLC issued, and was eventually compelled to file a complaint against the appellant’s father under Section 354 IPC after he had tried to outrage her modesty.


The Court observed that the forms of customary divorce prevalent in certain areas and regions within the country have been consistently recognized, including in a statutory form under Section 29(2) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and the same permits marriages to be dissolved in accordance with local custom governing the parties.

Court took reliance of case Delhi High Court Balwinder Singh Vs. Gurpal KaurAIR 1985 Delhi and of the  Supreme Court in Gurdit Singh Vs. Angrez KaurAIR 1968 SC 142.

While the appellant has contended that the respondent is not entitled to obtain a divorce under such customary provisions, he does not deny that the custom of obtaining divorce in Jaat community has been duly recognized by the Supreme Court viz. the Jaat community in Jalandhar, and by this Court as regards the Jaats of Jalanadhar and various neighbouring districts. The appellant has also been unable to rebut the respondent’s plea that she, like the appellant, also belonged to the Jaat community which practiced this custom, by adducing any material evidence before the learned Family Court, or before us today. Moreover, the fact that the respondent’s former husband, Mr. Praveen Kumar, has neither disputed their divorce nor claimed restitution of conjugal rights, was taken into consideration as well by the learned Family Court.

Another factor that weighed with the learned Family Court was that though the marriage between the parties was solemnized in 2009 and they were blessed with a daughter, the appellant had preferred the petition seeking a divorce only in 2015, after the passage of almost six years from the date of their marriage. Court is inclined to agree with the learned Family Court that this delay, in itself, exposed the gaps in the appellant’s plea that he was neither aware of the respondent’s earlier marriage, nor of her customary divorce from her former husband. In these circumstances, Court find absolutely no infirmity in the impugned order.

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