Wife insisting on living separately from husband’s family without reasons is cruelty: Delhi High Court

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The Delhi High Court recently observed that if a wife insists on living apart from her husband’s family members without any valid justification, it can be considered an act of cruelty.

A Bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna made the observation while dissolving a marriage on the ground of cruelty and desertion, after the wife also indicated that she has no objection to the divorce.

“…the respondent has not been able to show any justifiable reason for her insistence to have separate residence, however, this is brought forth from an out-of-court settlement which the parties have entered into to live separately but thereafter, she went back to live in the matrimonial home with other family members. 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 order stated.

The Court relied on the Supreme Court’s 2016 judgment in Narendra v. K Meena, which held that, “it is not a common practice or desirable culture for a Hindu son in India to get separated from the parents upon getting married at the instance of the wife.”

“In India, generally people do not subscribe to the western thought, where upon getting married or attaining majority; the son gets separated from the family. In normal circumstances, the wife is expected to be a part of the family of the husband after her marriage. She becomes integral to and forms part of the family and husband and normally without any justifiable strong reason, she should never insist that her husband should get separated from the family and live with her separately,” the apex court verdict had stated.

The High Court was dealing with an appeal challenging a family court order rejecting the husband’s plea for divorce. The husband claimed that his wife had subjected him to cruelty and desertion.

The couple got married in November 2000 and had two children together. In 2003, the wife left the marital home but later returned. However, she left again in July 2007.

The family court in its order noted that there was no evidence to support the claim that the wife had left her husband’s company without a valid reason. Additionally, the family court opined that the husband failed to demonstrate the wife’s intention to permanently end their cohabitation.

The High Court, however, found that wife’s insistence to live separately from the other family members was whimsical and had no justifiable reason.

It remarked that from 2007 onwards, the wife had not fulfilled her marital responsibilities, and the husband was denied conjugal rights.

The judges also took note of the wife’s statement before the High Court that she had no intention to reunite with her husband and that she had no objection to the divorce being granted.

“Prolonged deprivation of conjugal rights coupled with the statement of the respondent in the Court that she has no intention to join the company of the appellant and has no objection to the grant of divorce, not only reinforces that such deprivation has resulted in mental cruelty to the appellant, but also reveals that the respondent/wife has no intention whatsoever to resume the matrimonial relationship,” the Court noted.

As such, the Court dissolved the marriage and allowed the husband’s appeal for a divorce.

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