: Denying physical contact or sexual intercourse to one’s spouse for a long time without justification amounts to mental cruelty so as to entitle the victim to seek dissolution of marriage, the Delhi High Court said on Thursday.
A Bench of Justices Pratibha Rani and Pradeep Nandrajog said so while upholding the decree of divorce granted to a man, an employee with the MCD, by a family court on grounds of cruelty. The man had told both the courts that his wife used to quarrel with him and deprive him of cohabitation and physical contact without any reason.
The estranged wife had challenged the decree of divorce before the High Court, but was denied relief.
“Upon assessing the matrimonial life of the respondent/husband as a whole, we find that her act of denial of physical contact for a long time without any justification amounts to mental cruelty to the respondent/husband so as to entitle him to seek dissolution of the marriage,” the high court held. “The act of the wife to deny cohabitation for a long period of time to the husband in itself is an act of cruelty and constitutes a matrimonial offence for the purpose of Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (which covers divorce on grounds of cruelty),” it added.
The Bench relied on a Supreme Court judgment which states that “not allowing the spouse for long time to have sexual intercourse by his or her partner, without sufficient reason, causes mental cruelty to such spouse”.
In the instant case, the woman did not wish to live with her in-laws.
“The situation reached to the extent that the appellant/wife, on not getting her demand of separate accommodation being acceded to, started denying sexual contact with her for days together.
In March 2004, she was provided separate accommodation on the first floor of the same house, but her attitude remained unchanged. She did not allow the husband to sleep with her on the first floor, thereby compelling him to sleep on the ground floor in the same house,” the court noted.
The court also held that the ways of the wife in calling the police at the drop of the hat and the husband and in-laws living in fear of police action and false dowry harassment cases also amounted to mental cruelty.
In the instant case, the parties got married in November 2003. They were blessed with a baby boy in 2005, but have been living separately since December 2007. The son is in the custody of the mother.
The man moved a divorce petition, and was granted the same in February 2016. He told the family court that his wife had wanted a separate home for the two of them, but he could not afford it. However, since his wife was not allowing him cohabitation for days together, they both shifted to the first floor of the house within a few months of marriage.
The High Court noted, “Apparently it was a perfect solution to strike a balance between sharing family responsibilities and meeting the demand of his newly-wed wife to make her happy. Even this could not succeed as the respondent/husband has claimed that he was not allowed to sleep on the first floor by his wife, leaving no option for him but to sleep on the ground floor.”
Wife had asked husband for separate house from in-laws and did not allow him to sleep near her