A case of ?deadwood? marriage and divorce
MARRIAGES ARE made in heaven but broken on earth. So, when on the face of it, a marriage has literally become a ?deadwood?, what does it leave by way of a viable judicial option before a court in a battle focused on the question: divorce or no divorce? This question figured recently at the Supreme Court before a bench, comprising Justice Ruma Pal and Justice Dr AR Lakshmanan. It arose in the case of a quarrelling couple, Durga Prasanna, living in a village, and Arundhati Tripathi, living in a city and in a government job.india Updated: Jan 02, 2006 00:31 IST
MARRIAGES ARE made in heaven but broken on earth. So, when on the face of it, a marriage has literally become a ‘deadwood’, what does it leave by way of a viable judicial option before a court in a battle focused on the question: divorce or no divorce?
This question figured recently at the Supreme Court before a bench, comprising Justice Ruma Pal and Justice Dr AR Lakshmanan. It arose in the case of a quarrelling couple, Durga Prasanna, living in a village, and Arundhati Tripathi, living in a city and in a government job. They were married in March 1991 for a lasting and happy life partnership, which, woefully, was not to be.
Just seven months thereafter, the hiatus which grew into a monster between them arose out of Arundhati’s sheer irresistibility against the pulls of the government job she had. Durga Prasanna turned down her plea to desert the village and join her in the city where she could continue being in job. She hit back by deserting him instead. She landed back at her parents’ home in the city and resumed government service.
Since then, said the husband, all his persuasions to Arundhati to return to the village backfired, so much so that she even refused to join him for the rituals needed to be performed together to mark the demise of his father. Besides, she also declined to be at her village ‘sasural’ to participate in the marriage of his younger brother.
The stalemate persisted without any qualitative change for the better for seven long years, and citing “desertion” and “cruelty” on her part, the husband moved the family court for a divorce decree under Section 13(1) of the Hindu Marriage Act.
The family court found force in Prasanna’s plea, and granted him a divorce decree, subject to his paying her an alimony of Rs 50,000 under Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act. However, Arundhati challenged the divorce decree before the High Court, which saw some reason in her plea that the charge of “desertion” and “cruelty” against her had not been “fully” proved, so it set aside the divorce decree.
As it happens, the husband opted for the next legal recourse by filing an appeal before the Supreme Court, and by the time, the appeal inched ahead in the queue of cases for hearing and decision, 14 long years had already elapsed since the breakdown of the couple’s married life. “It is a most unfortunate case where both the husband and the wife could not carry on their marital ties beyond a period of seven months of their marriage,” observed Justice Dr Lakshmanan, writing the judgment for the bench (2005 (4) AWC 3649).
“They both have been living separately for almost 14 years, and this means that there is an “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” and so, the marriage has been rendered a “complete deadwood” for all practical purposes, notwithstanding the efforts made by both the family court and the High Court to bring about a reconciliation between them, said the judge. Arundhati’s plea that she was prepared to live with her husband, but only in the city, seemed “totally an impracticable solution now”, remarked the court.
A good part of their lives, the court stressed, has been “consumed by this litigation”, and the dislike for each other “is burning hot”, so a workable solution between them is certainly not possible inasmuch as they cannot at this stage reconcile themselves and live together, forgetting their past as a “bad dream”.
So, ruled the court, divorce is now the only viable option, though, considering the status of the two, the husband should pay Rs1 lakh as alimony to the wife, instead of Rs 50,000 that the family court had asked him to part with.
Well, the divorce, indeed, opens the gate for both them to go ahead afresh looking out for marital bliss through a mutually compatible second marriage, and see if the great, yet always uncertain, gamble turns out to be really rewarding this time!
First Published: Jan 02, 2006 00:03 IST