The Delhi High Court has recently granted divorce to a man 24 years after he and his estranged wife separated.
As per a report on TOI, the marriage took place in 1988 but was rocky from the start, with the wife staying with her husband only intermittently till she left the matrimonial home in 1995 for good.
While hearing the matter, Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw saw merit in the claim of the beleaguered husband that there was nothing left for the marriage to survive and termed it as “unfortunate that the parties married as far back as 1988 i.e. 31 years back and living separately since 1995 i.e. for the last 24 years have had to litigate about something as personal as these disputes for the last 24 years, and with uncertainty as to their marital status.”
However, the court laid the blame for the delay on the litigants, saying in bitter-divorce battles it is the disputing parties who often prefer to pile on evidence, prolonging cases.
“One of the root causes for such delays is the nature of detailed pleadings and detailed evidence which have become the norm in such disputes and which, in turn, result in longer trials and a long time in writing judgments in such matters,” Justice Endlaw said.
The High Court thus recommended that courts sitting in appeal in divorce cases must expedite the process by doing away with long drawn verdicts once they agree with the reasoning of the subordinate judge.
The couple — one a senior government servant and the other a government doctor — had to endure two rounds of litigation before the court granted them divorce. Soon after they started living separately in 1995, the husband filed for dissolution of marriage on the grounds of cruelty but his case was dismissed by the Trial Court, leading him to appeal in the High Court. His appeal remained pending before the High Court since 2002.
In the second round of litigation, the court granted relief to the husband in 2008. However, when the wife challenged the decision before the High Court, the court barred the man from remarrying. Subsequently, the High Court took over a decade to conclude that the Trial Court order is correct.
The Bench noted that repeated efforts were made by the High Court to see if the wife would like to reunite with her husband. As late as 2018, the wife appeared before the court and said she was willing to join her husband in Mumbai, but baulked at the last minute.
The High Court discerned that the wife never wished to live with the husband and upheld his call for divorce on the ground of desertion, noting that after 1995, she never made a genuine attempt to reconcile. It said the refusal of the wife to cohabit with the husband on day-to-day basis amounts to desertion as well as cruelty.