Wednesday, March 9, 2011

HC: Divorce granted to couple living separately for 38 years

Divorce granted to couple living separately for 38 years

MOHAMED IMRANULLAH S.

MADURAI, March 9, 2011

The Madras High Court has granted divorce to a couple living separately for the past 38 years, on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage, though the Hindu Marriage Act does not provide for divorce on such a ground.

Allowing a civil miscellaneous second appeal pending since 2000, Justice R.S. Ramanathan said: "Admittedly, both parties are living separately for more than 30 years. The marriage has become dead and no useful purpose can be achieved in keeping the marriage alive."

The judge recalled that the Supreme Court in Vishnu Dutt Sharma Vs. Manju Dutt Sharma (2009) had refused to grant divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage as it was not provided under the Hindu Marriage Act.

Nevertheless, the apex court granted divorce on such ground in different cases between 2005 and 2010.

In its latest decision, the Supreme Court had said that dissolution of marriage could be granted where the marriage was totally unworkable, emotionally dead beyond salvage and had broken down irretrievably, even if facts of the case did not provide a ground in law on which divorce could be granted.

In the present case, the appellant said that he got married on July 5, 1971. Within a few months, his wife went back to her parent's house. After much cajoling, she returned to her matrimonial home and left it again in November 1972 once for all. She was delivered of a girl baby in February 1973 but the appellant and his parents were not permitted to see the child.

She also filed a suit for maintenance in 1974 and it ended up in the High Court ordering the husband to pay Rs.100 to his wife every month and Rs.50 per month to the child.

Claiming that he was not even invited to his daughter's marriage, the appellant filed a divorce petition in 1997. A sub-court allowed it in 1999 and held that the conduct of the wife in living away from her husband without any reasonable and justifiable cause amounted to mental cruelty.

The trial court rejected the wife's contention that her husband and his parents had driven her away from their house after demanding 50 sovereigns of gold jewellery.

On appeal, an Additional District Judge reversed the divorce decree in 2000 and hence the present appeal.

Mr. Justice Ramanathan said the husband cannot seek divorce on the ground of desertion because the High Court, while deciding the maintenance case way back in 1978 itself had held that his wife was entitled to separate residence as she was subjected to cruelty by her husband.

Courtesy_

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