Restitution of conjugal rights’ intention to preserve institution of marriage, Centre to SC

New Delhi:- The Centre has opposed the plea before the Supreme Court against the constitutional validity of provisions relating to restitution of conjugal rights under the Hindu Marriage Act and Special Marriage Act.

The Centre’s affidavit contended that the nature of the institution of marriage is to be properly understood and appreciated before understanding the rationale behind the remedy of conjugal rights. “It is settled law that as per Hindu Personal Law, especially concerning Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, marriage is not a union, it is a sacrament. In other words, it is settled law that Hindu Personal Law attaches a greater degree of sanctity to the institution of marriage.”

It added that “the statutory mechanism provided in the various enactments for restitution of conjugal rights is aimed at bringing in cohabitation between estranged parties so that they can live together in the matrimonial home in amity. The intention of restitution of conjugal rights is to preserve the institution of marriage, allowing spouses to a relatively soft legal remedy by which they can iron out differences arising out of the normal wear and tear of matrimonial life with judicial intervention and is aimed towards cohabitation and consortium and not merely sexual intercourse”.

The Centre’s response came on a petition filed by two law students assailing the judgment of the court in the case of Saroj Rani v. Sudarshan Kumar Chadha.

The plea had argued that restitution of conjugal rights violates the right to privacy.

The Centre’s affidavit added that “the decision rendered by this court in its privacy judgment had in effect upheld its earlier decision in Saroj Rani and reaffirmed the vires of various provisions for restitution of conjugal rights and had also clarified that the right to privacy is not absolute and is subject to reasonable restrictions by the state in order to protect larger public interest, which in the present case is the institution of marriage and family”.

The plea is scheduled for hearing on Tuesday.

The petitioner moved the apex court, through advocates Atul Vinod and Pranjal Kishore, seeking a direction that section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, section 22 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 and order 21 rule 32 and 33 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 are violative of fundamental rights and hence, unconstitutional.