The Supreme Court is expected to begin hearing a fresh challenge to the provision allowing restitution of conjugal rights under Hindu personal laws.
- Conjugal rights are rights created by marriage, i.e. the right of the husband or the wife to the society of the other spouse.
- The law recognizes these rights— both in personal laws dealing with marriage, divorce etc and in criminal law requiring payment of maintenance and alimony to a spouse.
- The concept of restitution of conjugal rights is codified in Hindu personal law now, but has colonial origins and has genesis in ecclesiastical law.
- Similar provisions exist in Muslim personal law as well as the Divorce Act, 1869, which governs Christian family law.
- Incidentally, in 1970, the United Kingdom repealed the law on restitution of conjugal rights.
Section 9 filling
- If a spouse refuses cohabitation, the other spouse can move the family court seeking a decree for cohabitation.
- If the order of the court is not complied with, the court can attach property.
- However, the decision can be appealed before a High Court and the Supreme Court.
- Normally, when a spouse files for divorce unilaterally, the other spouse files for restitution of conjugal rights if he or she is not in agreement with the divorce.
- The provision is seen to be an intervention through legislation to strike a conciliatory note between sparring spouses.