Marriage is a ritual of union between two people that holds certain sentimental value in the eyes of society but more importantly marriage bestows a list of rights as well as duties on the two parties. An obvious and essential one is the requirement for them to stay or live together for each other’s comfort. In case a husband or wife, without a reasonable excuse, withdraws from the society of other i.e. starts living separately the other party may ask the court to compel the return to marital life of the spouse known as restitution of conjugal rights.
What the law says:
The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 provides for powers given to a court for “Restitution of Conjugal Rights” if the following conditions are fulfilled:
- When either the husband or wife withdraws from the society of the other
- Without a reasonable excuse
- The aggrieved party may apply to court
- Requesting restitution of conjugal rights or the restoration of marital rights
The court when satisfied may grant the decree of restitution.
Burden of proof:
The onus of proving always goes two ways. The spouse who files the petition must show that they are the aggrieved party and further, want the company of the other party in good intention.
The next and the most important question that majorly arises in such family law cases is whether the other party had a rational reason for living separately. By law it is the duty or onus of the party living separately to prove that they had a reasonable excuse for withdrawing from the society of the other spouse.
Reason-ability and rationality are traits that the laws of our country completely rely on and these principles are not just limited to acts affecting the public. Personal laws are to a huge extent subject to reason and logic and each case is looked at differently in light of rationality of the circumstances. On the same note, the relationship between a husband and wife though a private matter, is open for the court’s intervention when there is an aggrieving party to provide relief.
Restitution of conjugal rights is often looked at as a legal remedy when there is violation of the marital right of living together conferred when the husband and wife marry each other and to ensure that there is no element of neglect in the duties towards each other.