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Refusal to conceive a child cannot be ground for divorce

By Pti

Mumbai, May 4: The Bombay High Court has held that refusal by a wife to conceive a child because of family's financial instability could not be used as a ground for divorce by her husband.

"Also, not knowing how to cook, not being religious, not parting with salary and not folding clothes properly," could not be treated as grounds for divorce, ruled Justice PB Majmudar and Justice Anoop Mohta.

The bench was, on Thursday, hearing an appeal filed by a 30-year-old person against a family court order which dismissed his divorce plea.

The husband, Ramesh Shenoy, contended that he was subjected to cruelty by his wife, Preeti, as she had refused sex during honeymoon unless he wore a condom. He also cited other grounds of cruelty for divorce which both family court and the High Court did not approve.

The judges held that refusing to conceive a child on the ground of financial instability did not amount to cruelty.

"She must not have shown willingness to become a mother unless there was financial stability. Perhaps she wanted to give the child a better life," Justice Majmudar remarked. His brother judge, Justice Mohta, further said, "It is a mutual decision and a husband cannot insist."

The bench was also of the view that "not folding clothes properly or not being religious and knowing how to cook" could not be grounds for divorce as these did not amount to cruelty.

The appellant's lawyer said, Shenoy needed a working graduate as his wife who would live in a joint family and do household work.

Justice Majmudar remarked, "A wife is not a slave. She is considered as Ardhangini (man's better half). Her right of freedom of speech cannot be taken away." The judge opined that if he construed the grounds cited by the appellant as cruelty then no marriage will be safe.

Observing that the husband's family was 'conservative and was always seeking perfection', Justice Majmudar opined that Preeti should not have gone into this family.

However, her lawyer said that she was the eldest in the family and her younger sister could not have got married unless Preeti had done so.

The judge remarked, "the girls are still treated as a burden on parents. The girl should know to which family she is going (after her marriage)."

Also, the parents of both the prospective bridegroom and bride must ensure that the couple are a match for each other, he added.

Ramesh and Preeti got married in Feb 2007 and the latter left her matrimonial home after four months.

The bench noted that, in such a short span of time, the relationship between the two had become strained.


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