Asking husband to separate from parents, amounts to cruelty and ground for divorce
Abhey Narula 21 Oct 2016

Asking husband to separate from parents, amounts to cruelty and ground for divorce

In one of today’s regressive verdicts, the Supreme Court while deciding a divorce case held that forcing a Hindu son to separate from his parents by his wife would amount to cruelty and could form a ground of divorce. The verdict was passed by a bench comprising of Justices Anil R Dave and L Nageshwara Rao.

The top court had allowed an appeal against an order of the Karnataka high court that had held that there was no cruelty on part of a wife if she persuades her husband to separate from his aged family.

The Karnataka high court had come to the conclusion that there was no cruelty against the husband in this case and had not gone into the issue of the wife constantly persuading him to live separately from his family. The court had dismissed the divorce granted by a Bangalore family court in 2001.

Upholding “cruelty” on part of the wife, it was held that in a Hindu society, it was a pious obligation of the son to maintain his family. Due to this, it is not a common practice or desirable culture for a Hindu son in India to get separated from his parents.

The persistent effort of the wife to separate him from his parents would be torturous for him and amount to cruelty, the court held.

This ruling was passed focusing on Indian context and traditional way of living since years. It was said that in an Indian household, a wife becomes integral to and forms part of the family of the husband and normally without any justifiable strong reason; she would never insist that her husband should get separated from the family and live only with her.

Although the court has tried to keep in mind the fact that the parents were old and needed support, it can be seen as a regressive step as it does not allow any equality. What about support to the wife’s ageing parents? Why is it only about extending support to the husband’s parents?

Such questions are deeply rooted in the Hindu law itself which does not place men and women at an equal ground. However, it would be expected that courts in their interpretation would take a view that was more consistent with the times.

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