22 yrs’ separation not enough for divorce: HC
The Delhi High Court has said that it is the ‘solemn duty’ of the husband and the in-laws to give wives a friendly and affable environment, instead of treating her like an outsider — forcing her to break away from the marriage.
Justice Kailash Gambhir said a husband and his family must not forget that somebody who leaves her parents and friends to enter a new home has certain expectations from her marriage, and she should receive some respect from them.
The judge further ruled that a man cannot be allowed to obtain a decree of divorce on the ground of desertion by his wife, even after 22 years of separation, when he and his family are the ones who forced the woman to leave home. Adjudicating on the contention of the two-decade-long separation, he further held that this could alone cannot be enough to grant divorce because the legislature was yet to introduce irretrievable breakdown of marriage in the Hindu Marriage Act as a ground for divorce.
The court was adjudicating an appeal by a man, who had challenged a trial court order refusing to annul his 27-year-old marriage.
The couple had married in February 1987, and a daughter was born the next year. According to the husband, the woman abstained from fulfilling her matrimonial obligations, and never seemed to be satisfied. The petition also alleged that she refrained from indulging in “normal” physical intimacy, and therefore caused him a great deal of mental agony.
According to the husband, she had abandoned her matrimonial home and started living with her parents without sufficient cause, even though he took several steps towards effecting a reconciliation.
The woman, however, countered the allegations by saying she was forced to go back to her parents’ house because of her husband and in-laws’ behaviour. Also, they were not happy with the dowry they got from her in-laws, and the birth of a daughter only made matters worse.