'Removal of mangalsutra by wife is mental cruelty of highest order': Madras HC

A division bench of Justices V M Velumani and S Sounthar made the observation, while allowing a civil miscellaneous appeal from C Sivakumar, working as a professor in a medical college in Erode recently.

AgenciesUpdated: Friday, July 15, 2022, 11:57 PM IST
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Removal of 'thali' (Mangalsutra) by an estranged wife would amount to subjecting the husband to mental cruelty of the highest order, the Madras High Court has observed and granted divorce to the aggrieved man.

A division bench of Justices V M Velumani and S Sounthar made the observation, while allowing a civil miscellaneous appeal from C Sivakumar, working as a professor in a medical college in Erode recently. He sought to quash the orders dated June 15, 2016 of the local Family Court, refusing divorce to him.

When the woman was examined, she admitted that at the time of separation, she removed her ‘thali’ chain (sacred chain worn by the wife as a token of having married). Though she proceeded to explain that she retained the ‘thali’ and only removed the chain, the act of removing it had its own significance.

Her counsel, by referring to Section 7 of Hindu Marriage Act submitted that tying of ‘thali’ is not necessary and hence its removal by the wife, even assuming it was true, would not have any impact on the marital tie.

But, it is a matter of common knowledge that tying of ‘thali’ is an essential ritual in marriage ceremonies that takes place in this part of the world, the bench pointed out.

The court also cited the orders of a division bench of the High Court, which stated that "from the materials available on record, it is also seen that the petitioner has removed the ‘thali’ and it is also her own admission that she had kept the same in a bank locker. It was a known fact that no Hindu married woman would remove the ‘thali’ at any point of time during the lifetime of her husband.

"Thali around the neck of a woman was a sacred thing which symbolises the continuance of married life and it is removed only after the death of the husband. Therefore, its removal by the petitioner/wife can be said to be an act which reflected mental cruelty of the highest order as it could have caused agony and hurt the sentiments of the respondent," the bench had said.

Applying the same yardstick, the present bench said the removal of ‘thali’ chain is often treated as an unceremonious act. "We don’t say for a moment that removal of ‘thali’ chain per se is sufficient to put an end to the marital knot, but the said act of the respondent (wife) is a piece of evidence in drawing an inference about the intentions of the parties. The act of the respondent in removing the ‘thali’ chain at the time of separation, coupled with various other evidences available on record, compel us to come to a definite conclusion that the parties have no intention to reconcile and continue the marital knot," the bench said.

Besides, the bench noted that she had made allegations of extra marital affairs against the man with his women colleagues in the presence of co-workers, students and also before the police. In the light of the decisions of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, the judges said they have no hesitation in holding that the wife had caused mental cruelty to the husband by suspecting his character and making false allegations of extra marital affair in the presence of others.

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