No sex can mean divorce
THE SUPREME Court on Tuesday held that indifference and frigidity towards wife and sexual abstinence constitute mental cruelty and could be valid grounds for divorce.
"The general rule in all questions of cruelty is that the whole matrimonial relations must be considered, that rule is of special value when the cruelty consists of not violent acts but of injurious reproaches, complaints, accusations or taunts.
"It may be mental such as indifference and frigidity towards wife, denial of a company to her, hatred and abhorrence for wife or physical, like acts of violence and abstinence from sexual intercourse without reasonable cause," a Bench of Justice Ruma Pal and Justice AR Lakshmanan said.
The verdict came on a petition by a woman seeking divorce on grounds of mental and physical cruelty and insanity. Among the grounds, it was contended that non-consummation of the marriage itself would constitute mental cruelty to a married woman.
The court said 'mental disorder' under section 13(1)(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, as a ground of divorce is only where it is of such a kind and degree that the parties cannot reasonably be expected to live together.
"Where the parties are young and the mental disorder is of such a type that sexual act and procreation of children is not possible it may furnish a good ground for nullifying the marriage because to beget children from a Hindu wedlock is one of the principal aim of Hindu Marriage where sanskar of marriage is advised for progeny and offspring," Justice AR Lashmanan, writing the judgement for the Bench, said.
The woman, married in 1993, had sought divorce a year after her wedding alleging that her husband was suffering from schizophrenia and was incapable of performing his matrimonial obligations.
She had submitted that her marriage lasted only for five months and that from the first day itself her mother-in-law treated her cruelly, both mentally and physically, because of her husband's mental disorder.