The Gauhati High Court recently allowed a husband’s petition for divorce while opining that his wife’s refusal to wear “sakha and sindoor” signified her unwillingness to accept the marriage.
In this controversial case, A Division bench of Chief Justice Ajai Lamba and Justice Soumitra Saikia recorded in their order,
“Under the custom of Hindu Marriage, a lady who has entered into marriage according to Hindu rituals and customs, and which has not been denied by the respondent in her evidence, her refusal to wear ‘sakha and sindoor’ will project her to be unmarried and/or signify her refusal to accept the marriage with the appellant. Such categorical stand of the respondent points to the clear intention of the respondent that she is unwilling to continue her conjugal life with the appellant.”
Both the husband (appellant) and the wife had traded charges of cruelty, with each alleging that the other had subjected them to cruelty. The respondent-wife argued that her husband and other members of his joint family harassed her for ‘dowry’ payments.
On the other hand, the husband alleged that the wife in divorce plea had made repeated demands to for him to live away from his family, accused him of impotency and that she was indifferent and negligent towards him and members of his family.
The judgement records that the wife filed criminal complaints in divorce plea under Sections 498A (cruelty to wife), 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code as well as Section 125 (Application for Maintenance) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
The Court observed in a divorce plea that,
“Under such circumstances compelling the appellant-husband to continue to be in matrimony with the respondent wife may be construed to be harassment inflicted by the respondent upon the appellant and his family members.”
Since the wife had not pursued her complaints in divorce plea against the appellant and his family for cruelty after a “settlement”, the Court opined that her allegations of cruelty made by her could not be sustained.
The Court also added that the woman’s actions had prevented the appellant from pursuing his legal duty to maintain his aged stepmother under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. Since this involved criminal consequences and even imprisonment, not permitting the same could “be construed as an act of cruelty”
Read the judgement here: