Long period of separation between a man and his wife is not a valid reason to seek divorce as a woman does not leave his home by herself but is usually forced by the in-laws to do so, the Delhi high court has said.
A bench of Justice Kailash Gambhir gave this ruling while refusing to grant divorce to Prem Sharma (name changed), who claimed that his wife deserted him 22 years ago and they had been living separately since then. The judge said: “A man cannot be allowed to obtain divorce on the ground of desertion when he and his family are the ones who forced her to leave their home.”
The court further pointed out that the legislature was yet to introduce irretrievable breakdown of marriage in the Hindu Marriage Act as a ground for divorce.
The judge said the man and his family must not forget that his wife has certain expectations from the marriage and she should also receive respect from them.
“It is the solemn duty of the in-laws to give a friendly, amiable, affable and harmonious environment to give the daughter-in-law” the judge said. “The woman should be welcomed with open arms instead of the in-laws putting up a hostile front and treating her like an outsider,” he added.
Prem Sharma had challenged a trial court order refusing to annul his 27-year-old marriage. The couple had married in 1987, and a daughter was born the next year. According to Sharma, his wife abstained from fulfilling her matrimonial obligations, and never seemed to be satisfied. The petition alleged that she refrained from indulging in “normal” physical intimacy, and therefore caused him a great deal of mental agony.
He said she left his home and started living with her parents without sufficient cause.
The woman said she was forced to go to her parents’ home because of her husband’s and in-laws’ behaviour. They were not happy with the dowry brought by her, she said and added that the birth of a girl only made matters worse.