If a spouse does not allow their partner to have sexual intercourse with them for a long time without a sufficient reason, it amounts to mental cruelty, the Allahabad High Court recently observed while dissolving a couple’s marriage.
The court noted that the appellant, Ravindra Pratap Yadav, has alleged his wife Asha Devi “had no respect for marital bond, denied to discharge obligation of marital liability”, and that there has been a “complete breakdown” of their marriage.
Mr Yadav had challenged a 2005 order of a Varanasi family court that dismissed his divorce petition, citing Section 13 Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
The High Court said the lower court adopted a “hyper-technical approach” and dismissed Mr Yadav’s case.
Ravindra Pratap Yadav had sought divorce, mainly on the ground that a mutually agreed divorce had already taken place in the community Panchayat. He also alleged mental cruelty, “denying to co-habit and discharge the obligation of marital life” and them living separately for a considerable time.
According to Mr Yadav, the couple got married in May 1979 and after some time, his wife’s behaviour changed and she refused to cohabit with him. Later, she began to live at her parents’ house. After six months of marriage, he tried to convince his wife to come back, but she refused.
In July 1994, a panchayat was held in the village and the parties reached an agreement and got divorced by mutual consent. The petitioner claimed that he paid an alimony of Rs 22,000 to his wife. However, when the husband sought a decree of divorce on the basis of mental cruelty, desertion and a divorce agreement, she did not turn up in court.
“Undoubtedly, not allowing a spouse for a long time, to have sexual intercourse by his or her partner, without sufficient reason, itself amounts to mental cruelty to such spouse…Since there is no acceptable view in which a spouse can be compelled to resume life with the consort, nothing is given by trying to keep the parties tied forever to a marriage than that has ceased to in fact,” a Bench of Justices Suneet Kumar and Rajendra Kumar-IV said.
Referring to a 2006 Supreme Court judgment on the aspect of mental cruelty, the bench found faults with the order of the family court and set it aside.