The Madurai bench of Madras high court has ruled that venereal disease and HIV positive are the same condition while granting divorce to a man whose wife was HIV positive.
Justice RS Ramanathan said when one spouse is HIV positive, the other is entitled for a divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act.
Allowing an appeal by a lorry driver, the judge noted that when the act came into existence in 1955, HIV was unheard of, but not venereal disease.
But as per Section 13(v) of the act, if a spouse suffers from a communicable venereal disease, it is a valid ground for divorce, he said.
Stating that he had made an exhaustive study of both diseases from various sources, the judge said he had come to the conclusion that HIV also was a communicable disease like venereal disease.
He rejected the contention that HIV-positive condition is not included under Section 13(v)of the act and therefore, divorce cannot be granted.
The matter relates to the matrimonial dispute between the couple from Sankagiri in Salem district. A sub court had dissolved their marriage on Apr 3, 2007.
But the additional district court there allowed the appeal by the man and said divorce could not be granted.
Ravikumar's wife's counsel denied she is HIV-positive and argued that she could have got it only through her driver husband, who frequents various places during his duty.
She said while the Hindu Marriage Act had specifically stated that venereal diseases in a communicable form and could be a ground for divorce, it had nowhere said that HIV-positive condition could be a ground for dissolution of a marriage.
The woman also refused to undergo any tests though she was asked to do so twice by the court. But Ravikumar complied with the order.