The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has held that one cannot seek divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, on the ground that their spouse has “epilepsy” and the same cannot be “considered a mental disorder or a psychopathic disorder”.
A division bench of Justice Vinay Joshi and Valmiki S A Menezes on September 26 upheld a 2016 order of the Family Court (FC) denying divorce to a man who claimed that his wife was suffering from epilepsy, which he termed as an incurable disease that had led to her being unsound of mind. The husband had alleged that due to epilepsy, his wife exhibited abnormal behaviour and even threatened to commit suicide, all of which led to a breakdown of the marriage.
The man challenged the FC’s order before the high court.
“The condition of 'epilepsy' is neither an incurable disease nor can it be considered a mental disorder or a psychopathic disorder, for making a ground under Section 13(1)(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act,” the bench said.
It added: “We are further of the opinion that there is an abundance of medical evidence, as of this date, that such a medical condition could not justify any petitioner’s stand that the condition would be an impediment to the spouses living together.”
Section 13 (1)(iii) of the Act provides unsoundness of mind as a ground for divorce.
The bench noted that the man failed to prove that his wife was suffering from epilepsy or even that, if she were suffering from such a condition, the same could be considered as a ground for claiming a decree of dissolution of marriage.
Also, the neurologist who treated the woman had deposed that epilepsy is a medical condition in which a person suffering from it can lead a normal life and the wife in the present case had only suffered from brain seizure, the bench said.
The man’s advocate Vishwadeep Mate submitted that epilepsy led to the woman being unsound of mind and the manifestation of the said disorder rendered it impossible for the petitioner to live with the woman.
However, the wife’s advocate Jyoti Dharmadhikari stated her client was under treatment since she was suffering from ‘giddiness’, which was actually diagnosed as a seizure, for which she was prescribed the anti-epileptic drug.
Refuting the man’s claims, Dharmadhikari said that in reality, the woman had been driven out of his home on the said excuse, even though she wanted to live with him. She also said that she had informed the man before their marriage that she had seizures.
The High Court bench noted that since the man could not prove the ground of epilepsy, his claim of being subjected to cruelty or mental torture due to the respondent’s medical condition would be “totally without any basis”.