Man ‘duty-bound’ to take care of ill wife, not abandon her: SC

  • Bhadra Sinha, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 04, 2015 08:28 IST
File photo of the Supreme Court, in New Delhi. (Mohd Zakir/HT Photo)

Ruling that it’s a man’s primary duty to take care of his wife during difficult times, the Supreme Court has declined divorce by mutual consent to a couple that decided to part ways after the husband promised to give money upon separation to the wife suffering from breast cancer.

A bench headed by Justice MY Eqbal held that agreement by the husband to do something he is already duty-bound to do can’t be a valid consideration for the settlement. It said the wife’s consent to the agreement was driven by the need for costly treatment.

“It is a duty of the respondent (husband) to take care of the health and safety of the petitioner (wife). In the instant case also it is a primary duty of the husband only to provide facilities for the treatment of the petitioner. This is a pre-existing duty of the husband, provided the husband has sufficient means and he is diligently doing his part in taking care of her,” the bench said.

Instead of granting divorce, the court transferred the plea to a Hyderabad family court and directed the husband to pay Rs 5 lakh out of the total settlement money of Rs 12.5 lakh immediately. The court said the case shall be taken up after the wife is free from the disease.

“To a Hindu wife, her husband is her God and her life becomes one of selfless service and profound dedication to her husband. She not only shares the life and love, but the joys and sorrows, the troubles and tribulation of her husband and becomes an integral part of her husband’s life and activities,” the bench said.

The bench’s order refusing divorce to the couple who got married in April 2010 and then decided to separate in 2013 came after it noted the application filed for divorce by mutual consent. It found the wife had agreed to dissolution of marriage because she was keen to save her life by the money that her husband promised.

“Hindu marriage is a sacred and holy union of the husband and the wife by virtue of which the wife is completely transplanted in the household of her husband and takes a new birth. It is a combination of bone to bone and flesh to flesh,” the top court ruled.

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