Supreme court in land mark Judgment has waived a 6 months cooling period in the case of Mutual consent divorce. It held Section 13B(2) of the Hindu Marriage Act is not mandatory but directory, it will be open to the Court to exercise its discretion in the facts and circumstances of each case where there is no possibility of parties resuming cohabitation and there are chances of alternative rehabilitation. It has also said that in conducting such proceedings the Court can also use the medium of video conferencing and also permit genuine representation of the parties through close relations such as parents or siblings where the parties are unable to appear in person for any just and valid reason as may satisfy the Court, to advance the interest of justice. Section 13B(1) relates to jurisdiction of the Court and the petition is maintainable only if the parties are living separately for a period of one year or more and if they have not been able to live together and have agreed that the marriage be dissolved. Section 13B(2) is procedural. He submitted that the discretion to waive the period is a guided discretion by consideration of interest of justice where there is no chance of reconciliation and parties were already separated for a longer period or contesting proceedings for a period longer than the period mentioned in Section 13B(2). Thus, the Court should consider the questions: i) How long parties have been married? ii) How long litigation is pending? iii) How long they have been staying apart? iv) Are there any other proceedings between the parties? v) Have the parties attended mediation/conciliation? vi) Have the parties arrived at genuine settlement which takes care of alimony, custody of child or any other pending issues between the parties? The Court must be satisfied that the parties were living separately for more than the statutory period and all efforts at mediation and reconciliation have been tried and have failed and there is no chance of reconciliation and further waiting period will only prolong their agony. On such cases when a party make a petition to dispense the 6 months cooling period, then the court will use its discretionary power to grant mutual consent divorce as early after a week time.
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