Wife expressing the desire to work after marriage does not amount to cruelty, observed the Nagpur bench of Bombay high court while dismissing husband’s plea seeking divorce citing cruelty.
A division bench of Justices Atul Chandurkar and Urmila Joshi-Phalke, on October 4, dismissed two appeals filed by a 47-year-old teacher challenging the order of the Family Court (FC) at Amravati ruling in favour of the wife.
The husband had filed a petition before the FC dissolution of marriage, whereas the wife, a teacher, had filed a plea seeking restitution of conjugal rights. The FC ruled in favour of the wife which was challenged by the husband before the HC.
“In the present case, expressing desire by wife who is well qualified that she wants to do the job does not amount to cruelty. The husband has to make out a specific case that the conduct of wife was such a nature that it was difficult for him to lead the life along with her,” said the court.
The judges further noted that the husband had failed to show any evidence regarding the “time and manner in which he was harassed”. “The allegations made by him fall under routine wear and tear in nature. The marital life should be accessed as a whole and few isolated instances over a certain period will not amount to cruelty,” it added.
Citing another ground for cruelty, the husband had contended that the wife had aborted her second pregnancy without his consent.
Dismissing the argument, the HC said that the couple had a son and the wife had refused to take up tuition classes owing to her pregnancy, which shows that she was prepared to take responsibility for the child.
Even if the husband’s contention is accepted, it is the woman’s prerogative whether to continue with her pregnancy or not, clarified the judges. “It is well settled that the right of a woman to have reproductive choice is an insegregable part of her personal liberty as envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Admittedly, she cannot be forced to give birth to a child,” the court averred.
The husband had alleged that wife deserted him by returning to her parent's house since she wanted to work. After going through the statements of the witnesses, the court said there was no effort on the part of the husband to bring her back.
However, the wife contended that she was forced to leave due to harassment by her husband, her in-laws and sister-in-law since they suspected her character.
Accepting her contention, the court said that she got a job at one Ashram Shala after three years of leaving the house.
“Therefore, his contention that she left the matrimonial house to fulfil her desire is not sustainable. The contention of the wife appears more probable that she was constrained to leave the matrimonial house as her character was suspected,” it said.
Dismissing the appeals, the HC said: “Merely because she was staying separately an inference of desertion cannot be drawn. The marriage between the parties cannot be dissolved on the averments made by one of the parties that the marriage between them has broken down. The irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is not a ground by itself to dissolve it.”