A matter was heard by the Gauhati High Court wherein a husband has appealed against a family court judgment in which his application for divorce was dismissed. In this case, the respondent-wife had categorically told the honorable court during her cross-examination that she doesn't consider the appellant as her husband. "I am not wearing/putting sindoor right now because I don't consider him as my husband," she said.
The division bench of Chief Justice Ajay Lamba and Justice Saumitra Saikia observed that a refusal of the wife to wear 'Sakha and sindoor' would amount to her refusal to accept the marriage. The bench observed that under the custom of Hindu marriages, the refusal of a lady, who has entered into the marital relationship in accordance with the Hindu customs and rituals, will project her to be unmarried and/or signify her refusal to accept that marriage.
The bench said, "Under the custom of Hindu marriage, a lady who has entered into marriage according to Hindu rituals and customs, and which has not been denied by the respondent in her evidence, her refusal to wear 'Sakha and sindoor' will project her to be unmarried and/or would signify her refusal to accept the marriage with the appellant."
"Such a categorical stand of the respondent points to the clear intention of the respondent that she is unwilling to continue her conjugal life with the appellant. Under such circumstances compelling the appellant-husband to continue to be in matrimony with the respondent-wife may be construed to the harassment inflicted by the respondent upon the appellant and the family members," the bench added.
Regarding the family court judgment, the court said that the Family Court had "erred in evaluating the evidence in the proper perspective".
Considering the three criminal complaints filed by the respondent-wife against the appellant and his family, the bench relied on the Supreme Court's judgment in Rani Narsimha Sastri v. Rani Suneela Rani, and subsequently observed, "filing of criminal cases under Section 498(A) of IPC, etc. against the husband and his family members and which are subsequently dismissed/rejected by the Family Court, is sufficient to be construed as an act of cruelty by the wife... It is evident that there will be no purpose served to keep the marriage alive as there was no matrimonial harmony between the parties to be reached."
Apart from this, the wife had entered into an agreement with the husband wherein he was required to provide 'separate accommodation' to her in a rented house, away from their matrimonial house. The court held that such an act of forcing a son to live away from his family may be construed as an act of cruelty on the part of the respondent-wife, as it contravenes with the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.
"The Family Court completely ignored this fact brought out during the evidence that the respondent compelled and prevented the appellant from performing his statutory duty towards his aged mother under the provisions of the 2007 Act. Such evidence is sufficient to be construed as an act of cruelty as the non-compliance/non-adherence to the provisions of the 2007 Act has criminal consequences leading to punishment or imprisonment as well as fine," the court said.
Thereafter the decree of divorce was granted by the Court.