A Guide On Restitution Of Conjugal Rights



  1. Introduction 
  2. What Is Section 9 Of The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
  3. Constitutional Assessment Of Section 9
  4. Procedure For Filing For Restitution Of Conjugal Rights
  5. Result Of Restitution Of Conjugal Rights
  6. Judgements
  7. Laws That Restitution Of Conjugal Rights Violate
  8. General Criticism
  9. Conclusion 


Marriage, as a fundamental institution, establishes a bond between two individuals, namely the husband and wife, from which various relationships emerge. This union also gives rise to a set of rights and responsibilities known as conjugal rights, which can be considered the cornerstone of the marital relationship. Conjugal rights, at their core, encompass the right to cohabit and maintain a relationship of mutual support, comfort, and love during difficult times. In cases where one spouse unjustifiably leaves the other, the aggrieved party has the legal recourse of seeking restitution of conjugal rights through the judicial system, making it the primary matrimonial remedy available for such situations.

What Is Section 9 Of The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

Restitution of conjugal rights, as provided under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, aims to restore the fundamental aspect of marriage where spouses are entitled to each other’s society, comfort, and consortium. This legal provision is designed to protect the sanctity and legality of marriage by allowing an aggrieved party to seek the court’s intervention if one spouse unjustifiably withdraws from the company of the other. The burden of proof lies on the withdrawing party to demonstrate a reasonable excuse for their withdrawal, emphasising the importance of upholding marital obligations and responsibilities.

The requirements under Section 9 include:

  1. Spouses must not be residing together.
  2. The withdrawal of one party from the other must lack reasonable grounds.
  3. The aggrieved party must initiate the process by applying for restitution of conjugal rights.
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Constitutional Assessment Of Section 9

There is a notable debate regarding whether the concept of restitution of conjugal rights infringes upon the wife’s right to privacy. The Supreme Court, in its landmark judgement in Kharak Singh vs. State of UP, affirmed that the right to privacy is a crucial aspect of personal liberty. Similarly, in Gobind v. State of M.P., the Court revisited this issue and concluded that the right to privacy is encompassed within the broader right to liberty, along with other fundamental rights.

Procedure For Filing For Restitution Of Conjugal Rights 

Petitions under the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) must be filed in the Family Court of the original civil jurisdiction where:

  1. The marriage ceremony took place.
  2. The respondent currently resides.
  3. The parties to the marriage last cohabited together. If the wife is the petitioner, the location where she has been residing at the time of filing the petition.

Result Of Restitution Of Conjugal Rights 

The effect of reaction of conjugal rights include:

  1. A decree for restitution of conjugal rights mandates the respondent to continue cohabitation with the plaintiff.
  2. Failure to comply within one year from the decree allows either party to pursue divorce proceedings.


In the case of T. Saritha Vengata Subbiah v. State, the court declared Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, which deals with restitution of conjugal rights, as unconstitutional. The court’s reasoning was that this provision infringed upon the wife’s privacy by forcing her to live with her husband against her will.

However, in the case of Harvinder Kaur v. Harminder Singh, the judiciary revisited its stance and upheld Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act as entirely valid. The court’s decision in this case reverted to the original approach regarding the legality of restitution of conjugal rights.

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The court’s affirmation of the validity of Section 9 was further reinforced in the case of Saroj Rani Vs. S.K. Chadha, where the court upheld the ratio of its decision in Harvinder Kaur v. Harminder Singh, solidifying the legal standing of restitution of conjugal rights under the Hindu Marriage Act.

Laws That Restitution Of Conjugal Rights Violate

The right to freedom of association is a fundamental right enjoyed by every citizen in our country, allowing them to associate with others according to their own preferences. However, the matrimonial remedy of restitution of conjugal rights can be seen as infringing upon this freedom, particularly when a wife is compelled to associate with her husband against her will. In the case of Huhhram Vs Misri Bai, the court ruled in favour of restitution despite the wife’s expressed desire not to live with her husband, highlighting a violation of her freedom of association. Conversely, in the case of Atma Ram v. Narbada Dev, the court ruled in favour of the wife, showcasing a different outcome regarding the infringement of freedom of association.

In our society, individuals have the freedom to choose their profession and reside wherever they wish. However, the restitution of conjugal rights can sometimes force a person to live with their partner against their own wishes or interests, thereby infringing upon their freedom to reside and practise any profession of their choice. Courts have attempted to address this issue in the past, with the apex court expressing in the case of Harvinder Kaur v. State that introducing constitutional law into the realm of personal relationships is akin to causing disruption in a delicate situation.

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General Criticism

The topic of restitution of conjugal rights sparks intense debate and controversy. While some argue it aims to salvage marriages, others contend that compelling an uninterested party to stay with the aggrieved party serves little purpose. Nevertheless, there is room for refinement and improvement through adjustments and modifications.

Instead of the strict enforcement of conjugal rights, exploring the avenue of reconciliation could be considered. The concept of restitution can be perceived as harsh and coercive, potentially leading to resentment or conflict between the parties involved. On the contrary, reconciliation adopts a gentler and more persuasive approach, which may be less offensive and more conducive to resolving misunderstandings without forcing unwilling parties into unwanted situations.

To facilitate this approach, it’s advisable not to involve the judiciary since its primary role is to adjudicate disputes rather than facilitate reconciliation. Instead, a dedicated committee could be established specifically for administering and resolving matrimonial disputes. This committee would focus solely on promoting reconciliation, leveraging its efficiency and practicality to swiftly address issues and promote amicable resolutions.


In conclusion, the concept of Restitution of Conjugal Rights remains a contentious and sensitive issue, eliciting varying opinions and debates. While some argue for its preservation of marriage and the enforcement of marital obligations, others highlight its potential infringement on personal freedoms and the potential for further discord. It is imperative to explore alternative approaches, such as reconciliation mechanisms, to address matrimonial disputes effectively and amicably. Ultimately, the goal should be to promote mutual understanding, respect, and harmony within marital relationships, ensuring that the rights and dignity of all parties involved are upheld.


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