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"Failure On Wife's Part To Disclose Her Mental Disorder Before Her Marriage Constituted Fraud On Husband": Delhi HC Annuls Marriage After 16 Yrs

Nupur Thapliyal
24 Dec 2021 1:57 PM GMT
Failure On Wifes Part To Disclose Her Mental Disorder Before Her Marriage Constituted Fraud On Husband: Delhi HC Annuls Marriage After 16 Yrs
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The Delhi High Court on Friday annulled marriage between a husband and wife after 16 years observing that the failure on wife's part to disclose her mental disorder before her marriage with the husband constituted a fraud perpetrated upon him.Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh was dealing with an appeal filed by the husband challenging a Family Court order wherein his petition...

The Delhi High Court on Friday annulled marriage between a husband and wife after 16 years observing that the failure on wife's part to disclose her mental disorder before her marriage with the husband constituted a fraud perpetrated upon him.

Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh was dealing with an appeal filed by the husband challenging a Family Court order wherein his petition under sec. 12 of the Hindu Marriage Act was dismissed.

It was the case of the husband that the marriage was the outcome of a calculated fraud that was perpetrated by the wife and her family members as they chose not to disclose a vital and crucial fact regarding the her mental health. It was also stated that the wife was, before the marriage, and during the days that she stayed with the husband, suffering from Acute Schizophrenia. He stated that the wife behaved in a very unusual manner after her marriage in the matrimonial home, as well as during their honeymoon.

At the outset, the Court was of the view that the Judges are not medical professionals or experts, and acquire limited knowledge based on the arguments of the parties, medical literature produced before them; testimonies of expert witnesses produced in Court, and the submissions advanced before the Court.

"The Courts, to be able to decide such issues, needs expert opinion from credible persons in the field. The parties are also entitled to grant of opportunity to either support, or challenge the opinion that the experts may give after examination of the person concerned, and all other relevant materials. However, what weighs with us, at the outset is the denial of the respondent to subject herself to evaluation of her condition by an independent Medical Board to be appointed by the Court," the Court said.

The Court was also of the view that the outright refusal of the wife to undergo any medical examination, prevented the court from arriving at the truth.

"Marriage is not made of only happy memories and good times, and two people in a marriage have to face challenges and weather the storm together. It is not easy to live with a partner who has mental health issues, and such ailments come with their own challenges for the person facing the problem, and even more so for the spouse. There needs to be an understanding of the problems in a marriage, and communication between the partners– especially when one of the two partners in a marriage is facing challenges of their own. Treatment of any mental ailment requires acceptance of the same, not only by the family members but, most importantly, by the person suffering therefrom," the Court observed.

Noting that while it was true that the medical opinion in the case was not conclusive, however, the Court noted that the evidence of the doctors coupled with the medical documents suggested that wife was suffering from schizophrenia.

"There is no explanation or reason, as to what was the nature of those headaches; what caused those headaches; and; what was the treatment given to the respondent for those headaches," the Court added.

Disagreeing with the findings of the Family Court, the Court was of the view that it fell in error in rejecting the husband's application and that it's approach was erroneous.

The Court said that the refusal by the wife to undergo medical examination by the Medical Board of experts lead to the inference that she was not prepared to face the Medical Board as that the same could have exposed the condition of her mental well being, and would have established the allegation made by the husband that she was suffering from Schizophrenia.

"Why else, such a spouse–who claims to be not suffering from any mental ailment who has preferred a petition to seek restitution of conjugal rights, and expresses her desire to live with the appellant husband, not undergo such medical examination?" the Court said.

It added:

"truth. The Respondent has scuttled the effort of the court to arrive at a definite finding of truth. The only way of conclusively determining the mental health of the Respondent is by subjecting the Respondent to an examination by an expert Medical Board. The appellant has significantly discharged the onus by leading cogent evidence, and raise a preponderance of probability, that the Respondent is suffering from Schizophrenia."

"The failure on the part of the respondent to disclose her mental disorder before her marriage with the appellant – as alleged by him, constituted a fraud perpetrated upon the appellant."

Allowing the appeal, the Court annulled the marriage on the ground contained in sec. 12(1)(b) of the Hindu Marriage Act.

"However, in the process, unfortunately, the life of the appellant has been ruined and he has remained stuck in this relationship for 16 years without any resolution. In the most important years of his life, when the appellant would have, otherwise, enjoyed marital and conjugal bliss and satisfaction, he has had to suffer due to the obstinacy displayed by not only the respondent, but even her father, who appears to have been calling the shots in relation to the matrimonial dispute raised by the appellant," the Court said while granting the husband a token cost of Rs. 10,000.

Title: SANDEEP AGGARWAL v. PRIYANKA AGGARWAL

Click Here To Read Order 


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