Refusing Sex To Spouse For Long Time ‘Mental Cruelty’: High Court

New Delhi: If a spouse does not allow his/her partner to have sexual intercourse for a long period of time without a sufficient reason, it amounts to mental cruelty, Allahabad High Court observed while dissolving a couple’s marriage.

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The appellant, Ravindra Pratap Yadav, alleged that his wife Asha Devi had “no respect for marital bond, denied discharge of obligation of marital liability”, and that there has been a “complete breakdown” of their marriage, the court noted.

Yadav had challenged a 2005 order of a Varanasi family court that dismissed his divorce petition, citing Section 13 Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

A bench of Justices Suneet Kumar and Rajendra Kumar-IV of the high court felt the lower court adopted a “hyper-technical approach” and dismissed Yadav’s case.

Yadav’s contention was that a mutually agreed divorce had already taken place in the community panchayat. He also stated mental cruelty, denying to co-habit and discharge obligation of marital life and the duo living separately for a considerable time.

Yadav stated that some time after the couple’s marriage in May 1979, his wife’s behaviour changed as she refused to cohabit with him, and started living at her parents’ house. He informed the court that he tried to convince his wife to come back after six months of marriage, but she refused.

A panchayat was held in the village in July 1994, where the parties reached an agreement and got divorced by mutual consent. The petitioner claimed he paid an alimony of Rs 22,000 to his wife.

But when he sought a decree of divorce on the basis of mental cruelty, desertion and a divorce agreement, she did not turn up in court.

“Undoubtedly, not allowing a spouse for a long time, to have sexual intercourse by his or her partner, without sufficient reason, itself amounts to mental cruelty to such spouse… Since there is no acceptable view in which a spouse can be compelled to resume life with the consort, nothing is given by trying to keep the parties tied forever to a marriage than that has ceased to in fact,” the two-member bench said.

The bench, referring to a 2006 Supreme Court judgment on mental cruelty, found faults with the order of the family court and set it aside.

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