REMARRIAGE OF DIVORCED PERSONS
Section 15 of the Hindu Marriage Act ,1955 provides for remarriage of divorced persons in contested divorce cases.
“15. Divorced persons when may marry again.—When a marriage has been dissolved by a decree of divorce and either there is no right of appeal against the decree or, if there is such a right of appeal, the time for appealing has expired without an appeal having been presented, or an appeal has been presented but has been dismissed, it shall be lawful for either party to the marriage to marry again.”
The provision of Section 15 of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955 has been subject matter of a recent decision of the Supreme Court in Krishnaveni Rai v. Pankaj Rai and Anr., (2020) 11 SCC 253. In that case the ex-husband of appellant wife remarried as no appeal was filed within period of limitation. The appeal was preferred by the appellant wife almost one year after the expiry of period of limitation. In this factual backdrop, the Supreme Court held that bar of Section 15 was not attracted, it was lawful for the ex-husband to remarry and the appeal was infructous from the inception. The relevant extract of the judgment reads as under:
“28. Section 15 clarifies that when a marriage has been dissolved by a decree of divorce, and there is no right of appeal against the decree, or if there is such a right of appeal, the time for appealing has expired without an appeal having been preferred, or an appeal has been presented but the same has been dismissed, it shall be lawful for either party to the marriage to marry again. Had it been the legislative intent that a marriage during the pendency of an appeal should be declared void, Section 11 would expressly have provided so.
- As held by this Court in Anurag Mittal v. Shaily Mishra Mittal [Anurag Mittal v. Shaily Mishra Mittal, (2018) 9 SCC 691 : (2018) 4 SCC (Civ) 550] , the object of Section 15 is to provide protection to the person who had filed an appeal against the decree of dissolution of marriage and to ensure that such appeal was not frustrated. The protection afforded by Section 15 is primarily to a person contesting the decree of divorce. As observed by Bobde, J. in his concurring judgment in Anurag Mittal [Anurag Mittal v. Shaily Mishra Mittal, (2018) 9 SCC 691 : (2018) 4 SCC (Civ) 550] : (SCC pp. 702-703, paras 31 & 33)
“I am in agreement with the view taken by Nageswara Rao, J. but it is necessary to state how the question before us has already been settled by the decision in Lila Gupta v. Laxmi Narain [Lila Gupta v. Laxmi Narain, (1978) 3 SCC 258] . Even when the words of the proviso were found to be prohibitory in clear negative terms — “it shall not be lawful”, etc., this Court held that the incapacity to marry imposed by the proviso did not lead to an inference of nullity, vide para 9 of Lila Gupta [Lila Gupta v. Laxmi Narain, (1978) 3 SCC 258] . It is all the more difficult to infer nullity when there is no prohibition; where there are no negative words but on the other hand positive words like “it shall be lawful”. Assuming that a marriage contracted before it became lawful to do so was unlawful and the words create a disability, it is not possible to infer a nullity or voidness vide paras 9 and 10 of Lila Gupta case [Lila Gupta v. Laxmi Narain, (1978) 3 SCC 258] . …
- What is held in essence is that if a provision of law prescribes an incapacity to marry and yet the person marries while under that incapacity, the marriage would not be void in the absence of an express provision that declares nullity. Quae incapacity imposed by statute, there is no difference between an incapacity imposed by negative language such as “it shall not be lawful” or an incapacity imposed by positive language like “it shall be lawful (in certain conditions, in the absence of which it is impliedly unlawful)”. It would thus appear that the law is already settled by this Court that a marriage contracted during a prescribed period will not be void because it was contracted under an incapacity. Obviously, this would have no bearing on the other conditions of a valid marriage. The decision in Lila Gupta case [Lila Gupta v. Laxmi Narain, (1978) 3 SCC 258] thus covers the present case on law.”
- In any case, the bar of Section 15 is not at all attracted in the facts and circumstances of this case, where the appeal from the decree of divorce had been filed almost a year after expiry of the period of limitation for filing an appeal. Section 15 permits a marriage after dissolution of a marriage if there is no right of appeal against the decree, or even if there is such a right to appeal, the time of appealing has expired without an appeal having been presented, or the appeal has been presented but has been dismissed. In this case, no appeal had been presented within the period prescribed by limitation.
- The bar, if any, under Section 15 of the Hindu Marriage Act applies only if there is an appeal filed within the period of limitation, and not afterwards upon condonation of delay in filing an appeal unless of course, the decree of divorce is stayed or there is an interim order of court, restraining the parties or any of them from remarrying during the pendency of the appeal.
Reference of various judgments are available in here
It can therefore be concluded that a divorce person who has availed a divorce decree without any fraudulent means may remarry after the expiry of the period of limitation for the opposite party to file an appeal. For more information kindly click here