Dr. (Mrs.) Malathi Ravi Vs. Dr. B.V. Ravi
Authored by - Prachi Aggarwal
Keywords - Restitution of Conjugal Rights, Judicial Separation, Decree for Divorce.
Citation : Civil Appeal No. 5862 of 2014
(Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 17 of 2010)
Decided On, 30 June 2014
Bench: Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya & Dipak Misra
This case is related to the concept of dissolution of marriage under Section 9, Section 10, Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 that deals with the concept of restitution of conjugal rights, judicial separation, and divorce respectively. This analysis discusses various aspects of the case such as the background of the case, facts, issues raised, and finally the concept highlighted in this particular case analysis.
According to Section 9, when either the husband or the wife has, without reasonable excuse, withdrawn from the society of the other, the aggrieved party may apply, by petition to the district court, for restitution of conjugal rights and court, on satisfied on the truth of the statements made in such petition and that there is no legal ground why the application should not be granted, may decree restitution of conjugal rights accordingly.
According to Section 10,
1. Either party to a marriage, whether solemnized before or after the commencement of this Act, may present a petition praying for a decree for judicial separation on any of the grounds specified in Sub-section (1) of Section 13, and in the case of a wife also on any of the grounds specified in Sub-section (2) thereof, as grounds on which a petition for divorce might have been presented.
2. Where a decree for judicial separation has been passed, it shall no longer be obligatory for the petitioner to cohabit with the respondent, but the court may, on the application by petition of either party and on being satisfied with the truth of the statements made in such petition, rescind the decree if it considers it just and reasonable to do so.
According to Section 13,
Any marriage solemnized, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, may, on a petition presented by either the husband or the wife, be dissolved by a decree of divorce on the ground that the other party
1. has, after the solemnization of the marriage, had voluntary sexual intercourse with any person other than his or her spouse;
(ia) has, after the solemnization of the marriage, treated the petitioner with cruelty;
(ib) has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition;
2. has ceased to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion;
3. has been incurable of unsound mind or has been suffering continuously or intermittently from mental disorder of such a kind and to such an extent that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent.
Background of the Case
In this case, it was said that marriage is a social institution is an affirmance of civilized social order where two individuals, capable of entering into wedlock, have pledged themselves to the institutional norms and values and promised to each other a cemented bond to sustain and maintain the marital obligations. Despite the pledge and promises, on certain occasions, individual incompatibilities, attitudinal differences based upon an egocentric perception of situations, maladjustment phenomenon or propensity for non-adjustment or refusal for adjustment gets eminently projected that compels both the spouses to take intolerable positions abandoning individual responsibility, the proclivity of asserting superiority complex, betrayal of trust which is the cornerstone of life, and sometimes a perverted sense of revenge, a dreadful diet, or sheer sense of envy bring the cracks in the relationship when either both the spouses or one of the spouses crave for dissolution of marriage – freedom from the institutional and individual bond.
Facts of the Case
In this case, both the appellant as well as the respondent were highly qualified doctors with the degree of postgraduate; both are in government service. They both socially as well as financially well placed in society. The petitioner was the only male child of his parents beside him they had one daughter, and they belong to middle-class families. Also, on the other hand, the petitioner’s wife also belongs to a middle-class family and that her parents have only three daughters and no male child to them.
On 23rd November 1994, Mrs.Malathi (Respondent) got married to Dr. B.V. Ravi (Petitioner) as per Hindu customs; the marriage was solemnized under Hindu Marriage Act 1955. The marriage was arranged by the elders of families.
After marriage they lived together as husband and wife in the petitioner’s house for a period of one and a half years, then differences arose between them. In this wife conceived, as per the custom she went to her parent’s house for confinement and rest till the delivery of the child. But after delivery, she never stepped back to the petitioner’s house.
Later she joined a PG course in medicine at Gulbarga for two and a half years. During this husband wrote letters to her, convince her to return but she chooses to note to reply. One day husband went to the wife’s parent house, but her parents did not allow him in the house and all his efforts met with miserable failure. According to him, there was a total marital failure that caused him mental pressure and therefore he filed a petition initially for judicial separation which was further amended to the decree of divorce. The wife also applied for restitution of conjugal rights before the court.
1. Whether the petitioner is entitled to a decree of divorce or respondent is liable for restitution of conjugal rights?
2. Whether the respondent has been guilty of mental cruelty caused to the petitioner?
The learned Family Judge dismissed the application for divorce and allowed the application of the wife filed under Section 23(a) read with Section 9 of the Act for restitution of conjugal rights. Later on, the High court dismissed the application under Section 23(a) read with Section 9 of the Act for restitution of conjugal rights and passed a decree for the dissolution of the marriage between the parties.
The learned Principal Judge of the family court came to the conclusion that there was desertion yet the same was not for a continuous period of two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition; that the husband only wrote letters after 15.9.1999 and nothing had been brought on record to show what steps he had taken for the resumption of marital ties with the wife if she had deserted him; that the wife was not allowed to come back to the matrimonial home because of the intervention of his sister and brother-in-law; that as the husband was working at Ambedkar Medical College in the Department of Biochemistry and wife had joined in the Department of Pathology which would show that she was willing to join the husband to lead a normal marital life; and that it was the husband who had withdrawn from the society of the wife without any reason.
The High Court further came to the conclusion that the husband had made efforts to go to Gulbarga on many an occasion, tried to convince the wife to come back to the matrimonial home, but all his diligent efforts met with miserable failure. As the impugned judgment would reflect, the behavior of the wife established that she deliberately stayed away from the marital home and intentionally caused mental agony by putting the husband and his family to go through criminal litigation.
Finally, the apex court granted leave and “Matter is settled before the mediation Centre wherein parties have entered into a memorandum of settlement. Contents of the Memorandum of Settlement are admitted by the Parties. The court is satisfied that the same is voluntary Memorandum of settlement shall be a part of the decree.” Also, the element of mental cruelty was proved.
The decree of dissolution of marriage which is defined as the legal separation of man and wife effect by the judgment or decree of a court, and either totally dissolving the marriage relation, or suspending its effect so far as it concerns the cohabitation of the parties. It seems to be on the increase these days, this is due to the fact that people rushed into ill-advised marriages and they decided to rush out of these marriages as soon as they discovered that their marriages are not what they expected. Therefore, no proceedings for dissolution may be instituted within two years of marriage without leave of court except where divorce proceedings are based on the facts of willful and persistent refusal.
In case it is concluded that mental cruelty and its effect cannot be stated with arithmetical exactitude. It varies from individual to individual, from society to society and also depends on the status of the persons. The agonized feeling or for that matter a sense of disappointment can take place by certain acts causing a grievous dent at the mental level. The inference has to be drawn from the attending circumstances. As we have enumerated the incidents, we are disposed to think that the husband has reasons to feel that he has been humiliated.