SC to examine if man can divorce wife for refusing to be treated for ‘mental illness’

The Supreme Court on Friday decided to examine whether a man can divorce his wife for refusing treatment for mental illness, a condition she categorically denies.

A Bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Aniruddha Bose issued notice and stayed a Kerala High Court order granting the man his divorce. The man has accused his wife, a senior nursing professional who works in the U.K., of ‘paranoid schizophrenia’. Both the family court and the High Court had believed him enough to grant a divorce.

Hearing her appeal filed through advocate Vipin Nair, the Bench fixed a hearing in six weeks. The wife argued that it is settled law that a man cannot be granted divorce merely because his wife has become sick.

In this case, the woman said she is not even ill and is a successful professional in the medical field who would know if there is anything wrong with her.

“Her educational background as well as work experience would explain that she never suffered from any sort of mental disorder or even displayed any such symptom and the same is merely an allegation imputed by her husband to her. She has continuously achieved high standards in both her educational and professional career,” the petition said.

Mr. Nair referred to the concept of ‘paranoid schizophrenia’ explained in the Textbook of Medicine by Rustom Jal Vakil as a condition riddled with delusions both logical and bizarre.

“The illness usually begins late in life, between the age of 25 to 35 years.... He [the patient] may also have grandiose delusions. Because of his superior intelligence, he may claim to lead his country to victory or the world to prosperity. He may claim to reach the sun, the moon or the stars within a few years. He may claim to be the greatest authority on religion, science or philosophy,” the senior lawyer quoted.

He argued his client has shown none of the above aspects. She has instead braved the odds and carved a career for herself.

The woman, through her petition, said forcing the allegation that she was a paranoid schizophrenic despite her categorical denial was cruelty itself. It amounted to mental harassment by the husband.

The fact that the lower courts granted divorce while noticing that she was not unwell amounted to perversion and arbitrariness.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2022 6:14:30 pm |