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Judgmental no more

india Updated: Feb 16, 2008 23:22 IST
Satya Prakash

Courts are becoming liberal in interpreting the grounds of divorce and granting a decree for the dissolution of marriage.

Advocate Geeta Luthra says, “A decade ago, courts were very conservative in granting divorce. They would examine the grounds taken by the spouse seeking divorce very meticulously. But the trend has changed now.”

Luthra adds, “There are various Supreme Court judgments which say courts should grant divorce if the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The attitude of subordinate courts and high courts is changing accordingly,” she adds.

Advocate Pinky Anand agrees. “The courts have, over the years, broadened the parameters for granting divorce.” But she says, a lot depends on the socio-economic background of the judges. “In a given set of circumstances, a wife’s refusal to prepare and serve tea to her husband’s friends can amount to cruelty and courts have granted divorce on such grounds,” she adds.

There is no precise definition of cruelty. Whether a particular act amounts to cruelty or not depends upon facts and circumstances of the case. Cruelty can be physical or mental, subtle or brutal.

In the past, courts have held that false accusations of adultery, demand for dowry, persistent refusal to have marital intercourse, refusal to have children, threat to commit suicide and false complaints to the spouse’s employer amounted to mental cruelty.

Advocate Meenakshi Lekhi, however, says that sometimes courts lose sight of the condition of women in our society. According to her, a conservative approach is better even today because we don’t have the concept of matrimonial property, which a woman can fall back upon in case of divorce.