The Delhi High Court recently observed that “persistent insistence” of a wife to live separately from her husband’s family without a justifiable reason “can only be termed as an act of cruelty”.
A division bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Neena Bansal Krishna, in its August 11 order, made the observation in a petition moved by a man against a 2017 family court order which refused to grant him a divorce.
The bench, while ordering the dissolution of the couple’s marriage on the ground of “cruelty and desertion” under the Hindu Marriage Act, observed that the Supreme Court, in a 2016 judgment, had said that “in a Hindu society, it is the pious obligation of the son to maintain the parents”.
The HC noted: “If the wife makes an attempt to deviate from the custom prevalent in the society, she must have some justifiable reason for that. Normally, no husband would tolerate and would like to be separated from his parents and other family members. The persistent efforts of respondent wife to constrain the appellant to be separated from the family would be torturous for the husband and would constitute an act of cruelty.”
The HC further said that the respondent (wife) had not been able to show any “justifiable reason” for her insistence to have a separate residence.
“The only inference that can be drawn is that her insistence to live separately from the other family members was whimsical and had no justifiable reason. Such persistent insistence can only be termed as an act of cruelty. The appellant (husband) has stated that there was constant bickering and abuse and that she wanted to live a luxurious life and insulted the appellant and his family members, refused to do her household work, and was quarrelsome with the family members. Such incident as narrated by the appellant may seem innocuous when considered individually, but when considered collectively, it shows that there was no peace in the matrimonial home,” the bench said.
The bench noted that the respondent-wife (who was present in person) submitted that “there is no possibility of her staying together with appellant-husband” and had “no objection” if the husband’s appeal is allowed.
“Accordingly, in view of the above, the marriage between the appellant and the respondent is hereby dissolved on the ground of cruelty and desertion under Section 13(1)(i-a) & (i-b) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955,” the bench ordered.
The couple got married in 2000 and had two children. They eventually separated in 2007. The man had sought dissolution of marriage on several grounds under the Hindu Marriage Act, including that the wife was a “quarrelsome lady” who did not show respect to the elders at the matrimonial home and insisted that he reside separately from his parents to which he did not agree.
The family court’s 2017 order rejected his plea for divorce on the ground that the man’s testimony did not reveal any act of the woman which could be “termed as physical or mental cruelty and the incidents alleged were reflecting normal wear and tear of day-to-day life”.The family court also said that there was nothing on record to establish that the respondent wife had left the company of the appellant-husband without any reasonable cause.
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