18 Aug 2022 12:29 PM GMT
While setting aside a divorce decree granted in favour of a husband, the Supreme Court on Thursday orally remarked that marital status is important for women in India given the social situation here. A Division Bench of Justices UU Lalit and Ravindra Bhat was considering a petition filed by the appellant wife seeking to challenge a divorce decree granted by the High Court on the ground...
While setting aside a divorce decree granted in favour of a husband, the Supreme Court on Thursday orally remarked that marital status is important for women in India given the social situation here.
A Division Bench of Justices UU Lalit and Ravindra Bhat was considering a petition filed by the appellant wife seeking to challenge a divorce decree granted by the High Court on the ground of desertion.
During the hearing, Advocate Purushotam Sharma Tripathi, appearing for the appellant wife, had told the court that High Court had specifically noted that the respondent Husband had not suffered any cruelty and that, the she had not left her in-laws place on her own. So, the High Court could not have proceeded to pass decree for dissolution of marriage, was the submission. These arguments were made while expressing her interest to get back together with the respondent husband.
This was refuted by the Advocate Shishir Saxena, appearing for the respondent husband.
During the hearing, the Bench observed that it maybe impossible for a couple, who had been living separately for 18 years now, to live together now. But however, the concept of marriage and marriage status is quite important, considering the way society treats women.
"There's a lot of importance to marriage for women. And the way they are treated (in the society)."
Shishir said that the husband is a "sadhu" now and cannot get back in a marital relationship with his wife.
"If you have renounced the world, you have renounced everything, right?", Justice Bhat asked.
After a short discussion, the bench observed,
"We will set aside the divorce decrees. To you (the husband) it will make no difference".
He also told that an amount of Rs 5 lakhs, which had already been paid to the appellant wife as per the High Court's direction, be left as it is.
"That, 5 lakhs, whatever you have given to her, let her enjoy that. As some kind of ex gratia payment. She has not made any other demands. Is that okay?"
"No milords", Shishir said.
"Find a solution, we can't do that. Unless you come together and do something", the bench said.
"High Court allowed the divorce under the irretrievable breakdown theory of marriage", the advocate appearing for the wife said, at this point.
The High Court order had said, "The parties are living separately and therefore, it is necessary to draw a curtain on the same."
Regarding maintenance, the court said,
"…the maintenance in any case, even after divorce, we are supposed to maintain, and the level of maintenance is not a very fancy sum. So therefore, on that aspect, it doesn't call for any interference."
When the advocate suggested mediation, the court wasn't keen on the same.
"No mediation. Enough of this."
"He's not ready to live with her", the advocate for the husband, informed the court.
"No, we are not saying that. We cannot force parties. But let her have the status of being a married woman", the Court reiterated.
"I will not remarry", Shishir said, in attempt to persuade the court to not interfere with the High Court's order.
"You may not remarry. But after your (marriage) status is restored, you cannot marry now", the Bench highlighted.
The Court's order read as follows,
"According to Mr Tripathi, in view of clear finding by the High Court that the respondent Husband had not suffered any cruelty and that, the appellant wife had not left her in laws place on her own, the High Court could not have proceeded to pass decree for dissolution of marriage. Seeing force in the submission, we, therefore, allow this appeal, set aside the order passed by the High Court and restore the judgement and decree passed by the Trial Court."
The Court further said that the amount Rs 5 lakhs which was already paid can be taken and adjusted towards the maintenance to be paid to the appellant wife.
Case Title: Sulekha vs Pradeep Pachouri SLP(C) No. 5726/2021 IV-C