A WIFE cannot be permitted to be treated “like a chattel” who can be played around with and “trashed away” at the whims and fancies of the husband, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has said while granting divorce to a Haryana woman.
“The least that is expected from a husband in any marriage is to treat his wife with kindness and not undermine her dignity,” said the division bench of Justice Rajan Gupta and Manjari Nehru Kaul in the ruling, while reversing a family court verdict, which had refused divorce to the woman in 2017.
The bench further said that the family court has incorrectly come to a conclusion that since the wife had “impliedly condoned” the acts of cruelty prior to 2013 – when the matrimonial dispute had been compromised – the past incidents cannot be taken in account to prove cruelty. “The watershed sought to be created by the trial court is artificial for there is a symbiotic nexus between the events prior to 2013 and those after 2013, which eventually led the appellant-wife to reside separately from the respondent-husband,” said the bench.
The couple got married at Haridwar in 2004 and were living in Ambala. A daughter and a son was born to them in 2004 and 2007, respectively. As per the woman, her husband was in the habit of extracting money from her parents on one pretext or the other but his behaviour towards her and their children continued to remain cruel and abusive. Despite an income of over Rs 1 lakh per month, the plea said, he would not provide money to her forcing her to open a boutique in 2001 to raise finance for her children’s basic needs.
In 2012 and 2013, she was subject to violence by the husband. As per the petition, while the police was duly informed, the matter was compromised. However, the cruelty continued after that with the issue ultimately reaching the courts and the woman shifting to Mohali’s Zirakpur area in 2014. The husband denied the allegations stating that it was he who had helped her start the boutique and also was maintaining the children. He further claimed that his wife’s parents did not support her allegations and, in fact, they had a love marriage leaving no room for any demand of dowry. The family court agreed with the husband and dismissed the petition of divorce of the wife in 2017.
The division bench in its ruling said it is apparent that the marriage has been mired in acrimony, adding every spouse needs to be given due respect and needs to be treated with care. It added that when the wife moved to Zirakpur in 2014, there had been fresh episodes of disharmony between them, else there would have been no occasion for the wife to move out with her children. The court also interacted with the couple but to no avail.
“It is evident that it was because of the continuous misconduct on the part of the husband that the wife was compelled to stay away from him in Zirakpur. It would be unfair and injurious to the interest of the parties not to sever the legal tie between them,” the court said further.
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