She claims that she was physically tortured and mentally harassed by her in-laws

A Muslim woman who had deserted her husband has been asked by a Delhi court to rejoin him at her matrimonial home on the grounds that according to Muslim law, under which she got married, she had “failed to perform her marital obligations which she is legally bound to perform”.

The court, which had to conduct proceedings ex-parte following the woman’s failure to appear in court and defend herself despite filing an initial statement, said: “From the evidence of the plaintiff (husband) on record which has remained un-rebutted, unchallenged and uncontroverted, it is apparent that defendant (woman) has left the company of the plaintiff and her matrimonial home without any lawful cause and further refrained herself from joining the plaintiff in the matrimonial relationship. The plaintiff has expressed his willingness to reside with the defendant and has also made efforts in this direction.”

After the husband filed the plaint, the woman filed a written statement rebutting all his contentions and seeking the dismissal of the plaint. In her statement, the woman claimed that she was physically tortured and mentally harassed by her in-laws and that fearing for her life, her parents pulled her out from the matrimonial home. She also alleged that he was in an illicit relationship with another woman whom he subsequently married and then divorced.

But the woman did not appear in court after this statement forcing the court to conduct ex-parte proceedings and relying solely on the evidence presented by the husband. The man, who sought restitution of his conjugal rights, claimed that he had “showered love and affection” on the defendant but she used to indulge in petty quarrels with his family members and that her mother interfered with their family life.

In her order directing the woman to return to her matrimonial home, Administrative Civil Judge (ACJ) Shuchi Laler said: “There is no reason to disbelieve the uncontroverted, unrebutted and unchallenged testimony of the plaintiff. He has been deserted by the defendant on her own, without any lawful reason, and she has failed to perform her marital obligations.”

Pointing out that the woman had not lodged any criminal complaint against her husband, the judge said: “The onus to prove that she is entitled to remain separate or not compelled to rejoin the company is upon the defendant and in the circumstances of the case in hand on account of her not contesting the case and proceeding ex-parte, there is no evidence whatsoever on record as such which would disentitle the plaintiff from the relief sought in the plaint.”

The court also cited Muslim jurist, Tyabji, and said: “According to Tyabji, where either the husband or wife has without lawful ground withdrawn from the society of the other or neglected to perform the obligations imposed by contract of marriage, the Court may decree restitution of conjugal rights and may put either party on terms, securing to the other the enjoyment of his or her legal rights. Thus the Muslim wife shall perform all the duties and follow all the reasonable commands of husband / plaintiff so that the matrimonial obligations are fulfilled. She is exempted only upon certain reasonable grounds when she can refuse to re-join the company of the plaintiff.”

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