Restitution of Conjugal Rights in Hindu Marriage Act
If your spouse has left you without giving any reasonable ground, the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 gives you remedy in the form of Section 9 under the restitution of conjugal rights. The section 9 of the HMA reads that when either the husband or the wife has, without reasonable excuse, withdrawn from the society of the other, the aggrieved party may apply for restitution of conjugal rights.
What the aggrieved party needs to do is file a petition to the district court and on being satisfied of the truth of the statements made in such petition and that there is no legal ground why the application should not be granted, the judge may decree restitution of conjugal rights in his favor.
Three essential conditions for Section 9 of HMA
Firstly, one party must have withdrawn from the society of the other; secondly, the withdrawal must be without any reasonable reason, and thirdly, the aggrieved party applies for the restitution of conjugal rights. Once these conditions are fulfilled, the district court may decree of restitution of conjugal rights to bring about cohabitation between the estranged parties.
If the aggrieved party is unable to convince the district court and it founds that the petitioner is guilty then the decree of restitution of conjugal rights is not granted. An added advantage from this is that if the parties are not following the decree for cohabitation after the passing of the decree, continuously for one year, it becomes a ground for divorce under Section 13.
Reasonable grounds on which petition for Restitution of Conjugal Rights can be rejected
First, if the respondent has a ground on which he or she can claim any matrimonial relief;
Second, if the petitioner is guilty of any matrimonial misconduct;
Third, if the petitioner is guilty of such act, omission or conduct which makes it impossible for the respondent to live with him; for instance, husband’s neglect of his wife or the constant demand for dowry, etc. are some reasonable ground for wife not to join the company of her husband.
Burden of proof under Section 9 of the HMA
Burden of proof operates at two levels. Firstly, burden of proof is on the aggrieved/petitioner who needs to prove that the respondent has withdrawn from his society. Once that burden is discharged by the petitioner, it falls on the respondent to prove that there exists a reasonable excuse for the withdrawal.