Wife moved out of house. Resolving issue via panchayat. Is it valid?
My wife left my home in November 2012 and took our daughter along with her. She never came back after that. She says she will only come back if I decide to leave my family and stay alone with her which I do not want to do. Her father calls me and says we should return all expenses they made during marriage and sort out the issue via a Panchayat.
Is a panchayat's decision legally binding and valid? What are the legal options available to me in such a situation and what should I do now?
The marriage happened in 2009.
Well, the decision of the panchyat in such a case does not amount to a decree. For a valid divorce, a decree from a competent court of law is required. However, the decision of the panchayat can be used to aver that the understanding / settlement / compromise has been effected through it.
While we will list out the legal options available to you, what is more important is for you to figure out as to what is it that you want out of your marriage at this stage considering all that has transpired so far. While your wife has her set of conditions to come back and stay with you, and her father might be favoring a separation of you and your wife, what do you want to do? Do you want your wife to come back and get your marriage sorted or are you looking at a separation as well?
In case you want to give your marriage another chance, apart from professional counselling options, you have a legal way by which you can have the court direct your wife to stay with you. This may be done by filing a petition under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955.
Section 9: Restitution of conjugal rights:
"When either the husband or the wife has without reasonable excuse withdrawn from the society of the other, the aggrieved party may apply by petition to the district Court for restitution of conjugal rights and the Court, on being satisfied the truth of the statements made in such petition and that there is no legal ground why the application should not be granted, may decree restitution of conjugal rights accordingly"
It may also be noted here that if the decree of restitution of conjugal right is not honored for a period of more than one year, subsequent to the date of the decree, it becomes a ground for divorce.
On the other hand, if you have also decided to part ways and are looking for a Divorce, following are the options available to you:
In view of your circumstances, you can file for divorce on the ground of the desertion only if a period of 2 years has elapses from the date of desertion, which is case will be maintainble only after November, 2014.
However, you can file a divorce on the ground of cruelty under Section 13(1)(ia) under the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, as desertion by your spouse can also amount to cruelty, both mental and emotional.
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