HC view on pre-marital clinical exam vindicated

In September 2014, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court impressed upon the need for making premarital clinical examination compulsory. Then, the suggestion became a subject of ridicule with a vast majority questioning the role of the court in determining private affairs.

About two years later, the subject has been broached again following a divorce case filed recently by a 24-year-old woman who returned to her parental home within a month of marriage after discovering that her husband was suffering from cancer, a hole in the heart and an inguinal swelling spurting pus constantly. Despite the woman pleading with the High Court to dissolve her unconsummated marriage on the ground that the wedlock turned into a nightmare for her owing to suppression of such serious medical ailments, her husband remained steadfast on living with her and demanded restitution of conjugal rights.

Taken aback by his demand, Justice N. Kirubakaran has begun the judgement in the case saying: “Kallanalum Kanavan Pullanalum Purushan (women have no choice but to accept the man they are married to irrespective of his shortcomings) goes a good old Tamil proverb but gone are the days when it was the order of the day.” “Is it possible to take the saying seriously and follow it in letter and spirit? Exactly that is what the respondent wants the petitioner to follow.” Stating that crimes against women and girls are “atrociously” increasing day after day, the judge says it has created an unsafe atmosphere for them in a country glorified as ‘motherland.’

“Child marriages, denial to choose life partner, forced marriages against will, elderly men marrying young girls and solemnising marriages without even normal verification about the groom and his health condition are a few illustrations of marital crimes apart from other marital offences against women,” the judge has pointed out.

Granting divorce to the petitioner on the ground of suppression of ailments and advising the respondent to continue his treatment without losing heart, the judge has said that the present case would amply demonstrate as to how the life of young women could be doomed because of marriages conducted without proper enquiry and verification about the groom.

Observing that women end up becoming victims of violation of their dignity, human rights and right to decent and meaningful life guaranteed under the Constitution due to marriages conducted in haste and hurry, he suggests that it is prudent for parents of prospective brides and grooms to verify the health condition of their prospective son-in-law or daughter-in-law.

“One should remember that the ‘institution of marriage’ is based on mutual faith and trust where both the bride and the groom are equal partners. If pre-marital examination of the respondent had been done, the diseases would have been diagnosed and the marriage would have been certainly stopped. “If pre-marital examinations are done, many problems arising out of medical issues and failure of marriages due to fraud and non-disclosure of health problems could be averted.

“Therefore, it is appropriate for the Central and State governments to sensitise people about the importance of pre-marital counselling, at least, if not premarital examination and the benefits of such counselling by medical experts through proper advertisements in media, short movies, conducting seminars in colleges and so on. Will they?” the judge concludes.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 2:25:20 AM |

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