Men have primary duty to take care of wives during difficult times and the promise to help ailing spouse is not a valid consideration for divorce settlement, the Supreme Court has ruled.
Holding that man has “pre-existing duty” to help and protect wife, a bench of justices M Y Eqbal and C Nagappan, refused to grant divorce, even after mutual consent, to the estranged husband, saying his wife was suffering from breast cancer and hence, her consent to settle was driven by the earnest need for costly treatment.
“It is a duty of the respondent-husband to take care of the health and safety of the petitioner-wife. In the instant case also it is a primary duty of the husband only to provide facilities for the treatment of the petitioner. This is a pre-existing duty of the husband, provided the husband has sufficient means and he is diligently doing his part in taking care of her.
“In the present case, by the settlement agreement the respondent-husband is promising to do something which he is already duty bound, and it is not a valid consideration for the settlement,” it said.
Referring to the fact that Hindu marriage is “holy” and “sacred” and she should not be left in her diffuculties.
“Hindu marriage is a sacred and holy union of the husband and the wife by virtue of which the wife is completely transplanted in the household of her husband and takes a new birth. It is a combination of bone to bone and flesh to flesh.
“To a Hindu wife her husband is her God and her life becomes one of selfless service and profound dedication to her husband. She not only shares the life and love, but the joys and sorrows, the troubles and tribulation of her husband and becomes an integral part of her husband’s life and activities,” the bench said.
Instead of granting divorce in the present case, the court transferred the plea to Hyderabad family court with a rider that the husband will have to pay Rs five lakh, out of total settlement money of Rs 12.5 lakh, immediately and directed that the case be taken up after she is free from the disease.