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Wife Leaving In-laws' Home During Pregnancy to Stay With Parents 'Natural', Can't be Divorce Grounds: SC

By: News Desk

News18.com

Last Updated: March 01, 2022, 08:53 IST

The Supreme Court of India. (Image: PTI/File)

The Supreme Court of India. (Image: PTI/File)

A woman's refusal to come to her matrimonial home during that period cannot be considered cruelty by husband and in-laws, the SC bench stated.

The Supreme Court has said that a woman leaving her matrimonial home to be with her parents during her pregnancy and staying with them for a reasonable period of time is not ‘cruelty,’ and it cannot be used as a ground for divorce by her husband.

According to a bench of Justices KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy, it is natural for a woman to prefer to be with her parents during pregnancy, and her refusal to come to her matrimonial home during that period cannot be considered cruelty by husband and in-laws, a report by the Times of India said.

Although it concluded that the wife’s conduct was faultless in the case under consideration, it directed dissolution of marriage due to the peculiarity of the case, as the couple had been living separately for 22 years and her husband remarried immediately after receiving a divorce granted by a family court on the grounds of cruelty. The lower court’s decision was previously overturned by the Madras High Court, and now the Supreme Court has ruled that the ground of cruelty was not established.

In this case, the parties married in September 1999. She left for her matrimonial home in January after becoming pregnant, and the child was born in August 2000. Her father was ill and died in February 2001, so she stayed at her parents’ house. The husband petitioned for divorce in March, and the family court accepted his plea and granted divorce in 2004. She filed an appeal in the HC, but her husband remarried in October 2001, before her plea was heard. The HC ruled in favour of the wife, and the husband then appealed to the Supreme Court.

After hearing both sides, the Supreme Court upheld the HC order, stating that there was no cruelty and questioning the husband’s conduct in rushing to court to seek divorce after she had given birth to his child.

“As regards, the respondent (wife) not coming back, it is quite clear that she being pregnant, she had to go to her parental house. This was but natural. The pregnancy was not a smooth one as pointed out. If the wife decided to stay for some more time in her parent’s house after the child’s delivery, it is beyond our comprehension as to how such a case could have been brought before the court, and more importantly without even waiting for a reasonable period of time,” the bench said, according to the report.

The bench further said that the appellant (husband), oblivious to the fact that he had fathered a child, had rushed to court and filed a petition for divorce. “We cannot be oblivious to the respondent’s father’s death. Considering these facts, we do not see any basis for the appellant to challenge the findings that there is no cruelty on the part of the respondent,” it said.

Noting that the parties’ relationship had become dead and that the situation had become more complicated due to the husband’s second marriage and the child born from it, the bench said it would be in the best interests of all parties if the marriage was dissolved and ordered the husband to pay her Rs 20 lakh.

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first published:March 01, 2022, 08:51 IST
last updated:March 01, 2022, 08:53 IST