October 4, 2022

Parsi Divorce in India

Parsis in India, are the followers of the Iranian prophet Zoroaster. The Parsis, are stated to have migrated from Iran to India. Parsis in India were governed in the matter of marriage and divorce by their personal law. For the first time in 1865, the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act was passed. The same was substituted by the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936 after substantial amendments to the original enactment.

The statement of objects and reasons of the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936 clearly demonstrates the above position. The same is reproduced below: –

“The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act at present in force was passed in 1865. Since then circumstances have greatly altered and to some extent there has also been a change in the sentiments and views of the Parsi community. Hence a necessity for some change in the law has been felt for years. The Parsi Central Association took up the question in 1923 and appointed a Sub-Committee to suggest amendments. The Sub-Committee submitted a report which the Association got printed and circulated for opinion to most other Parsi Associations as well as prominent members of the community both in Bombay and outside. Many suggestions were made, and among them by the Trustees of the Bombay Parsi Panchayat who had the advantage of seeing the suggestions of others.

The Central Association adopted the suggestions of the Panchayat Trustees and reprinted the whole and again circulated it. Fresh suggestions were thereupon made in the press, on the platform, by associations and individuals. These were fully considered by the Trustees as well as the Association and the present draft is the result. On the whole it represents, the views of the great majority of the community, and has been approved by leading Parsis like Sir Dinshaw E. Wacha and the late Rt. Hon. Sir Dinshaw F. Mulla.”

Provision of Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936

Chapter II of the aforesaid enactment, deals with the subject of marriages between Parsis.

  • Section 3 provides for requisites of a valid Parsi marriage.
  • Section 6 denotes a requirement of a certificate of marriage.

Chapter IV provides for a variety of matrimonial suits, wherein

  • Section 30 deals with suits for nullity.
  • Section 31 deals with suits for dissolution of marriage.

The grounds for divorce are set out in Section 32, which is reproduced herein below: –

32.Grounds for divorce. –

Any married person may sue for divorce on any one or more of the following grounds, namely:

(a) that the marriage has not been consummated within one year after its solemnization owing to the wilful refusal of the defendant to consummate it;

(b) that the defendant at the time of the marriage was of unsound mind and has been habitually so up to the date of the suit: Provided that divorce shall not be granted on this ground, unless the plaintiff;

(1) was ignorant of the fact at the time of the marriage, and

(2) has filed the suit within three years from the date of the marriage;

(bb) that the defendant has been incurable of the unsound mind for a period of two years or upwards immediately preceding the filing of the suit or has been suffering continuously or intermittently from mental disorder of such kind and to such an extent that the plaintiff cannot reasonably be expected to live with the defendant.

Explanation. – In this clause, –

(a) the expression mental disorder means mental illness, arrested or incomplete development of mind, psychopathic disorder or any other disorder or disability of mind and includes schizophrenia;

(b) the expression psychopathic disorder means a persistent disorder of disability of mind (whether or not including sub normality of intelligence) which results in abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible conduct on the part of the defendant, and whether or not it requires or is susceptible to medical treatment;

(c) that the defendant was at the time of marriage pregnant by some person other than the plaintiff:

Provided that divorce shall not be granted on this ground, unless:

(1) the plaintiff was at the time of the marriage ignorant of the fact alleged,

(2) the suit has been filed within two years of the date of marriage, and

(3) marital intercourse has not taken place after the plaintiff came to know of the fact;

(d) that the defendant has since the marriage committed adultery or fornication or bigamy or rape or an unnatural offence:

Provided that divorce shall not be granted on this ground if the suit has been filed more than two years after the plaintiff came to know of the fact;

(dd) that the defendant has since the solemnization of the marriage treated the plaintiff with cruelty or has behaved in such a way as to render it in the judgment of the Court improper to compel the plaintiff to live with the defendant:

Provided that in every suit for divorce on this ground it shall be in the discretion of the Court whether it should grant a decree for divorce or for judicial separation only;

(e) that the defendant has since the marriage voluntarily caused grievous hurt to the plaintiff or has infected the plaintiff with venereal disease or, where the defendant is the husband, has compelled the wife to submit herself to prostitution:

Provided that divorce shall not be granted on this ground if the suit has been filed more than two years (i) after the infliction of the grievous hurt, or (ii) after the plaintiff came to know of the infection, or (iii) after the last act of compulsory prostitution;

(f) that the defendant is undergoing a sentence of imprisonment for seven years or more for an offence as defined in the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860):

Provided that divorce shall not be granted on this ground, unless the defendant has prior to the filing of the suit undergone at least one year’s imprisonment out of the said period;

(g) that the defendant has deserted the plaintiff for at least two years;

(h) that an order has been passed against the defendant by a Magistrate awarding separate maintenance to the plaintiff, and the parties have not had marital intercourse for one year or more since such decree or order;

(j) that the defendant has ceased to be a Parsi by conversion to another religion; Provided that divorce shall not be granted on this ground if the suit has been filed more than two years after the plaintiff came to know of the fact.

In addition to the above,

  • Section 32B introduced by way of an amendment, provides for divorce by mutual consent, and
  • Section 34 provides for suits for judicial separation, and
  • Section 36 provides for suits for restitution of conjugal rights.