Striking a gender equality note, the Supreme Court turned the tables and asked the husband whether it would have granted divorce to a woman from her husband, who on developing some mental disorder had become completely dependent on her, if she promised a huge sum as permanent alimony! Quite an interesting read and also indicates the increasing trend of more matrimonial cases reaching courts seeking divorce in name of mental ilnesses of the spouse... (read wives with unsound mind) !
SC strikes gender equality note in grant of divorce
Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN | Jul 2, 2013, 04.28 AM IST
NEW DELHI: Irretrievable breakdown of marriage, coupled with promise of large amount of money as permanent alimony, has been cited by rich and powerful men to seek divorce from their wives when all was not well in the marital relationship.
Striking a gender equality note, the Supreme Court on Monday turned the tables and asked whether it would have granted divorce to a woman from her husband, who on developing some mental disorder had become completely dependent on her, if she promised a huge sum as permanent alimony.
The case related to Darshan Gupta and Radhika Gupta, who married when they were barely out of their teens in 1997. Radhika's first pregnancy was terminated due to medical reasons. The second pregnancy was again a very complicated one and the child had to be delivered through Caesarian section. She remained unconscious for a long time and developed serious mental disorder. The child died eight days after birth.
Though she was treated in reputed hospitals, she allegedly remained mentally ill. The husband claimed separation from her since 2002, breakdown of marriage and offered a large sum of money as permanent alimony to seek termination of marriage.
A bench of Justices P Sathasivam and J S Khehar rejected the husband's plea and wondered whether a similar request by a woman would have been entertained by the apex court for grant of divorce from a husband who developed some mental disorder.
"In the context of doing justice, it was suggested that the appellant (husband) would be ready and willing to pay the respondent (wife) whatever was considered appropriate by the Supreme Court. We are informed that the appellant is financially well to do," the bench said.
"We would, in our endeavour to determine the issue in hand, examine the matter by reversing the roles of the parties. We will examine the matter as if the wife had approached the family court seeking divorce, on the ground that her husband had suffered brain damage leading to cognitive deficiencies. Yet, despite the said deficiencies, his working memory had returned to 'near normal' after treatment. And his mental condition was such that it would not have any effect on his matrimonial obligations," the bench added.
"And the wife's family is agreeable to pay an amount to be determined by this court (just as the husband Darshan Gupta has offered), so as to enable their daughter to break away and find a more suitable match. Should she have been granted freedom from her matrimonial ties, in the given facts, in order to do complete justice to the parties? We would ask ourselves whether the husband would have accepted such a plea, in the facts denoted above," it further said.
"In such a situation, if this court had, in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution of India, granted compensation to the husband, and had dissolved his marriage on the pretext of doing complete justice between the parties, would the same be acceptable to the husband? We have no doubt in our mind that on a reversal of roles, the husband, without any fault of his own, would have never accepted as just the dissolution of his matrimonial ties, even if the couple had been separated for a duration, as is the case in hand," Justice Khehar, while authoring the judgment for the bench, said.
Source: Times of India