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Find out the 50 LEADING CASES ON FAMILY LAW which will help in your preparation of AIBE.

Mohd. Ahmed Khan vs Shah Bano Begum And Ors 1985 SCR (3) 844

It was a controversial maintenance lawsuit. In this case, Supreme Court granted the maintenance to a divorced muslim woman irrespective of what the Muslim personal law says. Supreme Court held that Section 125 of CrPc is also applicable on Muslims. Supreme Court concluded that Cr.P.C. is a secular law and “there is no conflict between the provisions of section 125 and those of the Muslim Personal Law on the question of the Muslim husband’s obligation to provide maintenance for a divorced wife who is unable to maintain herself.” A muslim woman is entittled for the maintainance even after the period of iddat.

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Ahmedabad Women Action Group (AWAG) v. Union of India (AIR (1997) 3 SCC 573

The court was of the opinion that India and Indians have been governed by personal laws, regardless of the time period. It was of the opinion that an interference by the court would lead to several undesirable outcomes, as the adjudication of personal laws was beyond the jurisdiction of the courts. The petition was therefore dismissed.

Danial Latifi and another v. Union of India (2001) 7 SCC 740

The court held that the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, which provided that under section 3(1)(a), a divorced woman is entitled  to reasonable and fair provisions, and maintenance within the ‘iddat’ period is not in violation of Article 14 and 21 of the Indian constitution.

Shamim Ara v. State of U.P. (MANU/SC/0850/2002)

In this case the Supreme Court was of the view that the mere plea of a Talaq, would not validate the same. There Quranic procedures of obtaining a Talaq need to be fulfilled, i.e., Talaq has to be pronounced in the Quranic injunction.

Shayara Bano v. Union of India and others

Supreme Court in 2017 in a historic and landmark judgment declared “Triple Talaq” unconstitutional. The Apex Court said, “Given the fact triple talaq is instant and irrevocable, it has no scope of arbitration which is essential for saving marriage ties. Hence, it is clear that this form of Talaq is manifestly arbitrary in the sense that the marital tie can be broken capriciously and whimsically by a Muslim man without any attempt at reconciliation so as to save it. The court invalidated Section 2 of Shariat Application Act, 1937 to the extent it enforces “triple talaq”.

Sushil Kumari Dang v. Prem Kumar

Here, a petition for restitution of conjugal right is filed by the husband and the husband accuses his wife for adulterous conduct. Following which he filed another petition for judicial separation which shows the extent of his sincerity and interest in keeping the wife with him. So, the Delhi High Court set aside the decree of restitution granted by the lower court.

Yousuf v. Sowramina

It was held that at times, the determination of the question whether in fact a marriage has broken down or not is left to the courts. At other times, the legislature lays down the criterion of breakdown of a marriage and if that is established, the courts have no option but to dissolve the marriage.

Ankush Narayan v. Janabai

Court held that on adoption by a widow, the adopted son becomes the son of the deceased adoptive father and the position under the old Hindu law as regards ties in the adoptive family is not changed.

Guradas v. Rasaranjan

Adoption is made when the actual giving and taking had taken place and not when the religious ceremony is performed like Datta Homam.  For a valid adoption, it would be necessary to bring on records that there has been an actual giving and taking ceremony.

Harvinder Kaur v. Harmander Singh Choudhary

In this case, the court rejected the plea that personal law was discriminatory towards Gender inequality in India. It also observed that introduction of Constitutional law into the home (referring to personal laws) was most inappropriate.

Jijabai v. Pathan Khan

Where the father and mother had fallen out and the mother was living separately for over 20 years and was managing the affairs of her minor daughter the apex Court observed though the father was alive but he was not taking any interest in the affairs of the minor and should be treated as if non-existent, and, hence, the mother is  the natural guardian of the minor’s person as well as property.

Sitabai v. Ramchandra

So there may be relationship by implication in the other cases also. The Supreme Court has also held that a son adopted by the widow of the deceased coparcener will also be a coparcener with the surviving coparceners of the deceased husband.

Sarla Mudgal vs. Union of India

The Court held that if a Hindu converts to Muslim and then have a second marriage, he can not do so, irrespective of the fact that polygamy is allowed in Islamic Law.

R.Virupakshaiah v. Sarvamma & Anr

Property inherited by a Hindu from his father, father’s father or father’s fathers’ father, is ancestral property.

Dipo v. Wassan Singh & Others

A person who has to inherit property from his  immediate paternal ancestors up to 3 lines, holds it in coparcenary and to other relations he holds it and is entitled to hold it, as his absolute property. Hence, the property inherited by a person from any other relation becomes his separate property.

Chanmuniya  v. Virendra Kumar Singh Kushwaha

Considering Sec 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 the marriage performed in absence of customary rites and ceremonies of either parties to marriage is not valid. And Mere intention of the parties to live together as husband and wife is not enough. Further, there is no scope to include a woman not lawfully married within the expression of ‘wife’ in Section 125 of the Code should be interpreted to mean only a legally wedded wife.

Vaddeboyina Tulasamma v. Vaddeboyina Shesha Reddi, 1977 SCR (3) 

The Supreme Court in this case highlighted the Hindu female’s right to maintenance as a tangible right against property which flows from the spiritual relationship between the husband and wife. The Bench comprising of Justice P.N. Bhagwati, Justice A.C. Gupta and Justice S.M. Fazal Ali held that Section 14(1) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 must be liberally construed in favour of the females so as to advance the object of the Act. This section makes female Hindu a full owner of a property, instead of a limited owner of the property.

Mrs. Mary Roy Etc. v. State Of Kerala & Ors, 1986 AIR SC 1011 

The Supreme Court in this case held that Christian women are entitled to have an equal share in their father’s property. This path-breaking judgment sent shock waves throughout the country. Till then, Christian women in Kerala were governed by the provisions under the 1916 Travancore-Kochi Christian Succession Act.

Under this Act, a Christian daughter can inherit only one fourth of the share of the sons in her father’s property. The Bench comprising of Chief Justice P.N. Bhagwati and Justice R.S. Pathak gave a liberal interpretation that benefited the Christian women in Kerala and brought them within the ambit of the Indian Succession Act, 1921.

Lata Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh,  2006 (6) SCALE 583 

Noting that there was no bar to inter-caste marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act, a Division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice Ashok Bhan and Justice Markandey Katju observed that since there was no dispute about the petitioner being a major, “she was free to marry anyone she likes or live with anyone she likes“.

Velusamy v. D. Patchaiammal, (2010) 10 SCC 469

The Supreme Court, in this case, held that Live-in relationships will also come under Domestic Violence Act 2005 . It is held that ‘not all live in relationships will amount to a relationship in the the nature of marriage to get the benefit of the Act of 2005.

Roxann Sharma v. Arun Sharma, Civil Appeal No. 1967 OF 2015 

The Supreme Court in this case held that in a in a battle between estranged parents, for the custody of minor child, who has not completed five years of age, shall be allowed to remain with the mother. The Bench comprising of Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice C. Nagappan held that in such cases child should not treated as a “chattel”.

Seema v. Ashwani Kumar, AIR 2006 S.C 1158 

The Supreme Court in this case directed the State Governments and the Central Government that marriages of all persons who are citizens of India belonging to various religious denominations should be made compulsorily registerable in their respective States where such marriages are solemnized. The Bench, comprising of Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice S.H. Kapadia also directed that as and when the Central Government enacts a comprehensive statute, the same shall be placed before that Court for scrutiny.

Neeraja Saraph v Jayant Saraph (1994) 6 SCC 46

The Supreme Court gave some important obiter observations in this case:

  1. No marriage between a NRI and an Indian woman which has taken place in India may be annulled by a foreign court. 
  2. Provision may be made for adequate alimony to the wife in the property of the husband both in India and abroad.
  3. The decree granted by Indian courts may be made executable in foreign courts both on principle of comity and by entering into reciprocal agreements like Section 44-A of the Civil Procedure Code which makes a foreign decree executable as it would have been a decree passed by that court.

Dhanwanti Joshi v Madhav Unde (1998) 1 SCC 11

The Supreme Court had the occasion to decide the custody of the child when he was more than 12 years old and decided that even though the father may have obtained custody from the US court, the best interests of the child demanded that the child be allowed to continue to stay with the mother in India who had brought up the child single handedly in India, subject to visitation rights of the father. 


In a remarkable judgment dealing with interim custody of child suffering in parent’s matrimonial disputes, visitation rights and guardianship, a 2 judge bench of Supreme Court laid down various propositions of law while awarding the interim custody till final disposal by the trial court to the mother.

The bench speaking through Justice Vikramjit Sen, lays down very sharp observations and examines various definitions of a ‘guardian’, ‘visitation rights’ and tests the issue from the angle of provisions of Hindu Minority & Guardianship Act, 1956 and Guardian & Wards Act, 1890.

Saroj Rani v Sudarshan Kumar

In this case the constitutionality of Section 9 of Hindu Marriage Act was challenged. Petition was filed by the wife for a restitution of conjugal rights under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955. Her husband consenting to the passing of a decree for the same was passed.

After a period of 1-year husband filed a petition under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955 against the appellant for divorce on the ground that though one year had elapsed from the date of passing the decree for restitution of conjugal rights as no actual cohabitation had taken place between the parties. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Section 9 by saying that it serves a social purpose as an aid to the prevention of break-up of the marriage.

Dr. Surajmani Stella Kujur v. Durga Charan Hansdah, AIR 2001 SC 938

In this case, the Supreme Court described who is a “Hindu” for the purposes of the applicability of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The Act, is, therefore, applicable to: “(1)All Hindus including a Virashaiva, a Lingayat, a Brahmo, Prarthana Samajist and an Arya Samajist (2) Budhists (3) Jains (4) Sikhs”

Asha Qureshi v. Afaq Qureshi, AIR 2002 MP 263

The Court held that a person is entitled to a decree of nullity under Section 25(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act on grounds of fraud as described in Section 17 of the Indian Contracts Act.

Amardeep Singh v. Harveen Kaur (Supreme Court)

The Supreme Court held that the period mentioned in Section 13B(2) is not mandatory but directory, it will be open to the Court to exercise its discretion in the facts and circumstances of each case where there is no possibility of parties resuming cohabitation and there are chances of alternative rehabilitation. The Court also stated that such proceedings can also be conducted through video conferencing.

Suman Singh v. Sanjay Singh (Supreme Court)

In the case, the husband had pleaded 9 instances which, according to him, constituted “cruelty” within the meaning of Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act  entitling him to claim dissolution of marriage against the appellant. The court held that Few isolated incidents of long past and that too found to have been condoned due to compromising behavior of the parties cannot constitute an act of cruelty within the meaning of Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act.

Balveer Singh v. Harjeet Kaur (Uttarakhand High Court)

While deciding this issue, the High Court referred to the impugned provisions and made the following key observations in the case:

  1. That on a simple reading of Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, it has altogether a different purpose. The purpose of Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is to meet a contingency. 
  2. Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and Section 13-A of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 are framed to meet a separate set of contingencies. 
  3. If Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is either decreed or dismissed, it will not take away a right of a party to file Section 13-A of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for dissolution of marriage at any subsequent stage.

Mrs. Christine Lazarus Menezes v. Mr. Lazarus Peter Menezes (Bombay High Court)

The Court noted that if the Criminal Complaint filed by the appellant wife against her husband was false and was filed only to bring back her husband and consequent to which he was arrested and was in jail for about 7 days, it would constitute a clear case of cruelty by the wife against her husband.

Natubhai Somabhai Rohit v. State of Gujrat & Anr. (Gujrat High Court)

The Court also relied on Supreme Court’s verdict in G. V. Rao vs. L.H.V. Prasad wherein the Court stated that a complaint relating to matrimonial dispute where all the members are roped into irrespective of role, becomes liable to be quashed.

Amar Kanta Sen v. Sovana Sen, AIR 1960 Cal. 438

In this case there was dissolution of the marriage on the ground of adultery of the applicant. The applicant’s case that her husband had committed adultery was found to be not supported by evidence.  Supreme Court in this case held that when a wife deliberately persist on not getting a job even she easily can, is an undue advantage. The court only allowed starving allowance in this case.

Shanti Devi v. Govind Singh

The Court held that for constituting ‘desertion’ two essential conditions must be fulfilled namely (i) the factum of separation; and (ii) the intention to bring cohabitation permanently to an end.

Meghanatha Nayyar v. Smt. Susheela

The Madras High Court had observed that “Section 14 provides restrictions presumably designed to prevent party from taking recourse to legal proceedings before the parties have made real effort to save their marriage from disaster. It is founded on public policy because marriage is the foundation of civil society and no part of the laws and constitution of a country can be of more vital importance to the subject than those which regulated the manner and conditions of forming and if necessary, of dissolving marriage contract.

Githa Hariharan v. Reserve Bank of India (1999) 2 SCC 228 

It is pertinent to note that sub-section (c) of Section 4 provides that a natural guardian means a guardian mentioned in Section 6. This definition section, however obviously in accordance with the rule of interpretation of statute, ought to be read subject to Section 6 being one of the basic provisions of the Act and it is this Section 6 which records that natural guardian of a Hindu minor, in the case of a boy or an unmarried girl, is the father and after him the mother. 

Chand Patel v. Bismillah Begum, 1 (2008) DMC 588 (SC)

The Supreme Court that a Muslim’s marriage to his wife’s sister may be , while the earlier marriage still subsists, will be irregular but the second wife and children are entitled to maintenance. The Muslim personal law prohibits “unlawful conjunction”- a man cannot marry his wife’s sister in her lifetime or till the dissolution of their marriage but that doesn’t affect her entitlement to maintenance.

Masroor Ahmed v. Delhi (NCT) 2008 (103) DRJ 137 (Del.)

The Delhi HC in this case elucidated the various modes of dissolution of marriage under Muslim Law. The Hon’ble Court elaborated Section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat Application), 1937.

Nachhattar Singh v. Harcharan Kaur AIR 1996 Punjab and Haryana 201

If both the parties had voluntarily consented to file the petition for dissolving the marriage by mutual consent and all the other conditions mentioned in sub-sec. (1) of S. 13B of the Act are fulfilled, it will not be open to a party to withdraw the consent. In the present case without making an inquiry under sub-sec. (2) the trial Court has dismissed the petition as withdrawn which could not be done merely on the asking of one party.

Sureshta Devi v. Om Prakash, 1 (1991) DMC 313 (SC)

The SC settled the controversy by ruling that at the time of second motion under Section 13(B) HMA, one of the parties of the marriage withdraws the consent given to the petition, then decree for divorce on mutual consent cannot be passed.

Bipinchandra Jaisinghbai Shah v. Prabhavati, AIR 1957 SC 176 

The SC held that for the offence of desertion, so far as the deserting spouse is concerned, two essential conditions must be there, namely (1) the factum of separation, and (2) the intention to bring cohabitation permanently to an end (animus deserendi). Similarly two elements are essential so far as the deserted spouse is concerned: (1) the absence of consent, and (2) absence of conduct giving reasonable cause to the spouse leaving the matrimonial home to form the necessary intention aforesaid. 

Swaraj Garg v. K.M. Garg, AIR 1978 Del. 296

It is true that under the Hindu law, it is the duty of the husband to maintain his wife, but the wife is not under a corresponding duty to maintain her husband. This also is due to the fact that normally the husband is the wage earner. If, however, the wife also has her own income it will be taken into account and if her income is sufficient to maintain herself the husband will not be required to pay her any maintenance at all. 

Padmja Sharma v. Ratan Lal Sharma, AIR 2000 SC 1398

The obligation of a person to maintain his or her aged or infirm parents or daughter who is unmarried extends insofar as the parent or the unmarried daughter, as the case may be, is unable to maintain himself or herself out of his or her own earnings or other property.

Gohar Begum v Suggi, (1960) 1 SCR 597

The court held that in Muslim law, the mother is not a natural guardian even of her minor illegitimate children, but she is entitled to their custody.

Mambandi v. Mutsaddi, (1918) 45 Cal 887

The court held that a father’s right of guardianship exists even when the mother, or any other female, is entitled to the custody of the minor. The father has the right to control the education and religion of minor children, and their upbringing and their movement. So long as the father is alive, he is the sole and supreme guardian of his minor children.

Vandana Shiva v. Jayanta Bandhopadhaya

The Supreme Court has held that under certain circumstances, even when the father is alive mother can act as a natural guardian. The term ‘after’ used in Section 6(a) has been interpreted as ‘in absence of’ instead ‘after the life-time’.

Itwari v. Asghari, AIR 1960 All. 684

The court held that  Even in the absence of satisfactory proof of the husband’s cruelty, the Court will not pass a decree for restitution in favour of the husband if, on the evidence, it feels that the circumstances are such that it will be unjust and inequitable to compel her to live with him.

N.G. Dastane v. S. Dastane, AIR 1975 SC 1534 

Five tests were laid down in determining whether a given conduct amounts to legal cruelty. They are the following:

  1. The alleged acts constituting cruelty should be proved according to the law of evidence;
  2. There should be an apprehension in the petitioner’s mind of real injury or harm from such conduct;
  3. The apprehension should be reasonable having regard to the socio-economic and psycho-physical condition of the parties;
  4. The petitioner should not have taken advantage of his position;
  5. The petitioner should not by his or her conduct have condoned the acts of cruelty.

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