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No Fear No Favour

Hindu son can divorce his wife for the cruelty of trying to pry him away from his aged parents. Why only ‘Hindu’?

It has not even been a month when Supreme Court passed a marriage law that the party who calls off marriage has to bear up all the expenses. Now Supreme Court has implemented a new law on marriage. ‘Hindu’ marriage to be precise. A Hindu son can divorce his wife for the cruelty of trying to pry him away from his “pious obligation” to live with his aged parents and provide shelter to them, the Supreme Court has held. Yes, you read the sentence right!

Though it’s a sad reality in India that most of the families do not end up well because of the ‘saas-bahu’ disputes and the older people often end up being at the old-age homes! But don’t you think that the same happens in most of the families be it a Hindu family, Muslim or a Punjabi one. Also, why can’t we have equal exclusive law on marriage for everyone? Equal on the grounds of religion, gender everything!

Even though something as brutal as marital rape is not reason enough for separation, guys now have the upper hand in divorce as well.
A woman becomes a part of the husband’s family and cannot seek to separate him from his parents for the sole reason that she wants to entirely enjoy his income, a Bench of Justices Anil R. Dave and L. Nageshwara Rao observed in a judgment.

Insisting her husband to live separately from his parents is a western thought alien to our culture and ethos, Justice Dave, who wrote the judgment, said.

“It is not a common practice or desirable culture for a Hindu son in India to get separated from his parents on getting married at the instance of the wife, especially when the son is the only earning member in the family. A son, brought up and given education by his parents, has a moral and legal obligation to take care and maintain the parents, when they become old and when they have either no income or have a meager income,” Justice Dave wrote.

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, the court said. In normal circumstances, a wife is expected to be with the family of the husband after the marriage.

“She 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,” Justice Dave observed.

The court was confirming the divorce of a Karnataka-based couple in a recent judgment. Married in 1992, the lower court granted the husband divorce after he alleged cruelty on his wife’s part. He quoted instances of her constant suspicions about him having illegal affairs with a maid. It was later found that no such maid as described by the wife ever worked in the couple’s home

In another instance, the apex court found that the wife had attempted to commit suicide but was rescued in the nick of time. She wanted to separate the man from his parents who were dependent on his income.

However, the High Court had set aside the decree of divorce, saying the wife had a “legitimate expectation” to see her husband’s income used for her and not his family members.

Shuddering at the thought of the legal tangles in which the “poor husband” would have found himself caught in had she succeeded in committing suicide, the Supreme Court concluded: “The mere idea with regard to facing legal consequences would put a husband under tremendous stress.”

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