Wife not fasting on Karwa Chauth will not by itself amount to cruelty: Delhi High Court

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The Delhi High Court recently held that not fasting on Karwa Chauth is an individual’s choice and it would neither amount to cruelty nor be sufficient to sever marital ties.

A Division Bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna observed that having different religious beliefs and not performing certain religious duties also do not by itself amount to cruelty.

“Fasting or not fasting on Karwa Chauth may be an individual choice and if dispassionately considered, may not be termed as an act of cruelty. Having different religious beliefs and not performing certain religious duties, perse would not amount to cruelty or would not be sufficient to sever a marital tie,” the Court held.

However, the Court upheld a family court’s decision to allow a divorce plea by the husband in this case since on an overall consideration of the facts, it was apparent that the wife “had no respect for the husband and their marital bond.”

The High Court made the observations while rejecting an appeal by a woman who challenged the family court order granting her estranged husband divorce on the grounds of cruelty.

The parties got married in the year 2009 and a daughter was born from the wedlock in 2011. However, the husband stated that since the beginning of the marriage, the conduct of the wife was indifferent and that she had no interest in discharging her matrimonial obligations.

Among several other grounds taken, the husband also said that on the day of Karwachauth of 2009, the wife got annoyed with him and decided not to fast because he did not recharge her phone.

It was also alleged that in April, when the husband developed a slip disc, the wife, rather than taking care of him, removed vermillion from her forehead, broke bangles and wore a white suit, declaring that she had became a widow.

The Court considered all the facts and held that the conduct of the wife, coupled with her decision not to follow prevalent rituals in Hindu culture which symbolised love and respect for the husband, supported the conclusion that she had no respect for her husband.

“When coupled with the conduct of the appellant/wife and in the circumstances as proved by the respondent/husband in the present case, it is established that non-conforming with the prevalent rituals in Hindu culture, which symbolizes love and respect for the husband as well as the matrimonial relationship, fortifies the irresistible conclusion that appellant/wife had no respect for the respondent/husband and their marital bond. It also reflects that the appellant/wife had no intention to continue her marriage with the respondent/husband,” the Court said.

The Court further said that nothing can be a more harrowing experience for a husband than to see his wife act like a widow during his lifetime, that too when he was seriously injured and expected nothing more than care and compassion from his significant half.

“Undeniably, such conduct of the appellant/wife can only be termed as an act of extreme cruelty towards the respondent/husband,” the High Court said.

The Court further noted that the wife filed criminal complaints against her husband and his aged parents but was not able to justify the grounds on which these complaints were made.

It also observed that the wife left her matrimonial home barely within one year and three months of marriage and had not made any reconciliatory efforts or attempted to return to the matrimonial home.

“We thus, conclude that the evidence on record proved that there is no chance of reconciliation between the parties and such long separation peppered which false allegations, Police reports and criminal trial can only be termed as mental cruelty. The marital discord between the parties has pinnacled to complete loss of faith, trust, understanding, love and affection between the parties. This dead relationship has become infested with acrimony, irreconcilable differences and protracted litigations; any insistence to continue this relationship would only be perpetuating further cruelty upon both the parties,” the Court said.

The Court, therefore, held that the appellant/wife has acted with cruelty towards the respondent/husband and that the divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 was rightly granted by the family court.

Advocate Meenakshi Kalra appeared for the wife.

The husband was represented through advocates AP Mohanty, CM Thapliyal, SP Paul, Kiran Lata Pal and Kanchan Thapliyal.

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