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Supreme Court rejects 89-year-old Man's plea to get divorce from 82-year-old wife

The top court noted the wife all throughout her life has maintained the sacred relationship since 1963 and has taken care of her three children despite the fact that her husband exhibited total hostility towards them.

Edited By: Hritika Mitra @MitraHritika New Delhi Updated on: October 14, 2023 9:34 IST
Supreme Court
Image Source : FILE Supreme Court

The Supreme Court denied to grant divorce to a couple married for 27 years saying that the institution of marriage occupies an important place and plays a key role in society. A bench of justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi dismissed the appeal filed by a 89-year-old man against the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court reversing Chandigarh's district court order granting divorce to him. His wife is aged 82.

"In our opinion, one should not be oblivious to the fact that the institution of marriage occupies an important place and plays an important role in society... It is governed not only by the letters of law but by social norms as well. So many other relationships stem from and thrive on the matrimonial relationships in society. Therefore, it would not be desirable to accept the formula of 'irretrievable breakdown of marriage' as a strait-jacket formula for the grant of relief of divorce under Article 142 of the Constitution of India," the bench said.

"The respondent (wife) is still ready and willing to take care of her husband and does not wish to leave him alone at this stage of life. She has also expressed her sentiments that she does not want to die with the stigma of being a 'divorcee' woman. In contemporary society, it may not constitute a stigma but here we are concerned with the respondent's own sentiment," the bench said, in its order dated October 10.

It said, "Under the circumstances, considering and respecting the sentiments of the respondent wife, the court is of the opinion that exercising the discretion in favour of the appellant (husband) under Article 142 by dissolving the marriage between parties on the ground that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, would not be doing "complete justice" to the parties, would rather be doing injustice to the respondent.

In that view of the matter, we are not inclined to accept the submission of the appellant to dissolve the marriage on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage."

Justice Trivedi, who penned the verdict on behalf of the bench, noted that the husband, who is a qualified doctor and retired from the Indian Air Force, had initiated divorce proceedings in March 1996 under the Hindu Marriage Act on grounds of 'cruelty' and 'desertion' by his wife, a retired teacher. The man alleged that his estranged wife had treated him cruelly and deserted him by not joining him when he was transferred to Madras, and thereafter not taking care of him though he had a heart problem.

(With inputs from PTI)

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