A woman is not a chattel that can be forced to go somewhere she does not want to go, the Supreme Court observed while hearing a man’s plea seeking that his wife be ordered to start living with him again.
The case refers to a 2019 order of restitution of conjugal rights passed in favour of the man by a family court in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur, Hindustan Times reported. The woman, who claimed that she was tortured by her husband over dowry and moved out after that, filed a case seeking maintenance in 2015. The family court ordered the husband to pay Rs 20,000 every month, following which the man filed a petition seeking restoration of conjugal rights.
He approached the court asking whether he would be required to pay maintenance if he was willing to live with her, which was refused by the Allahabad High Court. He filed an appeal in the Supreme Court after this.
The woman maintained that her husband’s “game” was to simply avoid paying maintenance, her lawyer Anupam Mishra told the court. Meanwhile, her husband’s lawyer said that the court should ask the woman to return to her husband since the family court had ruled in his favour. Mishra, however, countered that the Allahabad High Court’s order was still pending.
The bench comprising justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant Gupta said, “What do you think? Is a woman a chattel that we can pass such an order? Is a wife a chattel that she can be directed to go with you?”
“Is a woman a chattel? Is a wife a chattel? You are asking us to pass an order for this as if she can be sent to a place where she does not want to go, like a chattel,” the court said, refusing the request for restoration of conjugal rights.