Demand for privacy by a married woman after she enters her matrimonial home cannot be dubbed as cruelty towards the husband to grant him divorce, the Delhi High Court has held.
“Privacy is a fundamental human right. Oxford dictionary defines privacy as ‘a state in which one is not observed or disturbed by other people.’ So when a woman enters into matrimony, it is the duty of family members of her matrimonial home to provide her with some privacy,” a bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Deepa Sharma said.
The observation came as the bench dismissed a plea by the husband who had challenged a 2010 trial court order dismissing his petition seeking dissolution of his marriage.
Besides cruelty, the husband had also raised the ground of “irretrievable breakdown” of marriage by narrating that their wedlock has virtually lost its meaning as they were living separately for the last 12 years and had reached a point of no return.
However, the bench said though the Supreme Court had recommended to the Centre in 2006 the amending of the Hindu Marriage Act to “incorporate irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a ground for divorce. Yet till date this ground of divorce has not been added to the Act”.
“This Court thus lacks jurisdiction to dissolve a marriage on the doctrine of ‘irretrievable breakdown’,” the bench said.
While holding that the demand for privacy by the wife cannot be termed as cruelty, the high court noted in its judgement that the trial court had rightly observed that her demand to set up a separate home was “not unreasonable”.
The bench said, “There is no evidential backing by the appellant (husband) or his family members showing that they had provided requisite privacy to the respondent (wife). The family court was therefore correct in holding that such demand was not unreasonable and as such did not constitute cruelty.”
The man, who had married in September 2003, had filed the divorce plea before the trial court alleging that his wife had treated him cruelly and pressurised him to set up a separate home as she did not want to live in a joint family.
The husband had also claimed that as he was working as a labourer, it was not possible for him to set up a separate independent household due to limited financial means and his wife had started misbehaving not only with him but his family members as well.
The wife had denied all the allegations saying it was the husband who had cruelly treated her.
While dismissing the husband’s appeal, the high court said he had not brought on record any proof to substantiate his allegation that the wife’s behavior had caused mental cruelty.
“While disputes and arguments are normal in a marriage, in order to constitute cruelty, the conduct of the spouse should be something more serious than the ordinary ‘wear and tear’ of a marital life,” the bench noted.
It also said, “A person is not allowed to take advantage of his own wrong. The appellant (husband) has failed to prove his allegation of cruelty. Not just this, he had also demanded dowry and it is he who abandoned the respondent (wife)”.