• New Batch: 5 June 2024

May 17, 2024

Grounds for Divorce under the Special Marriage Act, 1954

The Special Marriage Act, 1954 (SMA) lays out specific grounds on which either spouse can petition for divorce. Here’s a breakdown with relevant case laws:

Grounds for Divorce:

  • Adultery (Section 27(1)(a))
    • Case Law: Y.D. Chavan vs. Mrs. Sushila Chavan (AIR 2010 SC 1993): The Supreme Court clarified that a one-night stand can constitute adultery if it’s proven to be a deliberate act violating the sanctity of marriage.
  • Cruelty (treated with cruelty – Section 27(1)(a))
    • Case Law: Savita vs. Rajesh (AIR 2010 SC 1935): This case broadened the definition of cruelty to include mental cruelty. Mental harassment can be a ground for divorce even if there’s no physical abuse.
  • Desertion (for a continuous period of two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition – Section 27(1)(a))
    • Case Law: Payal vs. Kishan Chand (AIR 2011 SC 2822): Mere separation isn’t desertion. The spouse who left must have the intention of abandoning the marriage.
  • Imprisonment (for seven years or more for an offence punishable by imprisonment under the Indian Penal Code – Section 27(1)(a))
    • This provision is straightforward.
  • Venereal Disease (in a communicable form – Section 27(1)(a))
    • Case Law: Narayan Sadashiv Rao vs. Sunita Narayan Sadashiv Rao (AIR 1985 Bom 379): Courts have emphasized the importance of disclosing pre-existing sexually transmitted diseases before marriage.
  • Living Separately (for a period of one year or upwards after passing a decree of judicial separation – Section 28)
    • This applies when a court has already ordered separate living due to other grounds.
  • Mutual Consent (with no possibility of cohabitation – Section 28)
    • This is the most common ground today.

Challenges in Implementation:

  • Lengthy Process: Divorce proceedings can be lengthy and expensive, deterring some couples from seeking legal separation.
  • Social Stigma: Societal stigma attached to divorce, especially for women, can discourage them from filing for divorce even in difficult situations.
  • Economic Dependence: Financial dependence on the husband can make it difficult for some wives to initiate divorce proceedings.
  • Misinterpretation of Cruelty: The subjective nature of cruelty can lead to misuse or difficulty in proving mental harassment.
  • Unequal Access to Legal Aid: Unequal access to legal representation can disadvantage some parties during the process.


The Special Marriage Act provides clear grounds for divorce, and judicial interpretations have broadened some definitions. However, social and economic challenges persist. Streamlining procedures, promoting awareness, and ensuring equal access to legal aid are crucial steps towards smoother implementation of these provisions.


Get In Touch

B-36, Sector-C Aliganj – Near Aliganj Post Office Lucknow – 226024 (U.P.) India

+91 8858209990, +91 9415011892

lucknowvaidsics@gmail.com / drpmtripathi.lucknow@gmail.com

Reach Us
Our Location

Google Play

About Us

VAIDS ICS Lucknow, a leading Consultancy for Civil Services & Judicial Services, was started in 1988 to provide expert guidance, consultancy, and counseling to aspirants for a career in Civil Services & Judicial Services.

The Civil Services (including the PCS) and the PCS (J) attract some of the best talented young persons in our country. The sheer diversity of work and it’s nature, the opportunity to serve the country and be directly involved in nation-building, makes the bureaucracy the envy of both-the serious and the adventurous. Its multi-tiered (Prelims, Mains & Interview) examination is one of the most stringent selection procedures. VAID’S ICS Lucknow, from its inception, has concentrated on the requirements of the civil services aspirants. The Institute expects, and helps in single-minded dedication and preparation.

© 2023, VAID ICS. All rights reserved. Designed by SoftFixer.com