Tag Archives: marriage

Hindu Marriage – Status of Wife

Hindu Marriage is a sacred and holy union of husband and wife by virtue of which the wife is completely transplanted in the household of her husband and takes a new birth. It is a combination of bone to bone and flesh to flesh. To a Hindu wife her husband is God and her life becomes one of the selfless service and profound dedication to her husband. She not only shares the life and love, but the joys and sorrows, the troubles and tribulation of her husband and becomes an integral part of her husband’s life and activities. Colebrooke in his book Digest of Hindu Law, Vol.II, described the status of wife thus:
“A wife is considered as half the body of her husband, equally sharing the fruit of pure and impure acts: whether she ascends the pile after him or survives for the benefit of her husband, she is a faithful wife.”
Further Colebrooke in his book Digest of Hindu Law, Vol. II quoted the Mahabharata at page 121 thus:
“Where females are honoured, there the deities are pleased; but where they are unhonoured there all religious acts become fruitless.” Anuradha Samir Vennangot v. Mohandas Samir Vennangot, (2015) 16 SCC 596.

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Offence of Desertion

Rayden on Divorce has summarized thus:
“Desertion is the separation of one spouse from the other, with an intention on the part of the deserting spouse of bringing cohabitation permanently to an end without reasonable cause and without the consent of the other spouse; but the physical act of departure by one spouse does not necessarily make that spouse the deserting party.”
In Halsbury’s Laws of England (3rd Edition), Vol. 12, it has been held as under:
“In its essence desertion means the intentional permanent forsaking and abandonment of one spouse by the other without that other’s consent and without reasonable cause. It is a total repudiation of the obligations of marriage. In view of the large variety of circumstances and of modes of life involved, the Court has discouraged attempts at defining desertion, there being no general principle applicable to all cases. Desertion is not the withdrawal from a place but from the state of things, for what the law seeks to enforce is the recognition and discharge of the common obligations of the married state; the state of things may usually be termed, for short, ‘the home’. There can be desertion without previous cohabitation by the parties, or without the marriage having been consummated. The person who actually withdraws from cohabitation is not necessarily the deserting party. The fact that a husband makes an allowance to a wife whom he has abandoned is no answer to a charge of desertion.
The offence of desertion is a course of conduct which exists independently of its duration, but as a ground for divorce it must exist for a period of at least three years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition where the offence appears as a cross charge, of the answer . Desertion as a ground of divorce differs from the statutory grounds of adultery and cruelty in that the offence founding the cause of action of desertion is not complete, but is inchoate, until the suit is constituted. Desertion is a continuing offence.”
Thus the quality of permanence is one of the essential elements which differentiates desertion from willful separation. If a spouse abandons the other spouse in a state of temporary passion, for example anger or disgust, without intending permanently to cease cohabitation, it will not amount to desertion. For the offence of desertion, so far as the deserting spouse is concerned, two essential conditions must be there namely, (1) the factum of separation, and (2) the intention to bring cohabitation permanently to an end (animus deserendi). Similarly two elements are essential so far as the deserted spouse is concerned: (1) the absence of consent, and (2) absence of conduct giving reasonable cause to the spouse leaving the matrimonial home to form the necessary intention aforesaid. Anand Singh v. Smt. Kunti, 2017 (121) ALR 146.

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Matrimonial Dispute – Terms “Cruelty” and “Mental Cruelty”

The word “cruelty” has not been defined in the Hindu Marriage Act. The word appears to have been used in the section in context of human behavior in relation to or in respect of matrimonial obligations or duties. Cruelty can be termed as behavior or conduct of one spouse which adversely affects the other. Thus broadly speaking “cruelty” as a ground for the purpose of divorce under Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act can be taken as a behavior of one spouse towards the other which causes reasonable apprehension in his or her mind that it is not safe to continue the matrimonial relationship. Cruelty can be physical or mental or even intentional or unintentional. The mental cruelty is difficult to establish by direct evidence. It is a matter of inference to be drawn from facts and circumstances of the case. A feeling of anguish and frustration in one spouse caused by the conduct of other can be appreciated on the assessment of facts and circumstances in which the two have been living. The inference has to be drawn from overall facts and circumstances considered cumulatively.
Mental cruelty and its effect cannot be stated with arithmetical accuracy. It varies from individual to individual, from society to society and also depends on the status of the persons. What would be mental cruelty in the life of two individuals belonging to a particular stratum of the society may not amount to mental cruelty in respect of another couple belonging to a different stratum of society. The agonized feeling or for that matter a sense of disappointment can take place by certain acts causing a grievous dent at the mental level. The inference has to be drawn from the attending circumstances. Puja Suri v. Bijoy Suri, 2016 (119) ALR 140.

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Law Presumes in Favour of Marriage – And Against Concubinage

In the case of A. Dinohamy v. W.L. Balahamy, AIR 1927 PC 185, it was held that where a man and woman are proved to have lived together as husband and wife, the law will presume, unless the contrary is clearly proved, that they were living together in consequence of a valid marriage and not in a state of concubinage. The court observed as under:
“The parties lived together for twenty years in the same house, and eight children were born to them. The husband during his life recognized, by affectionate provisions, his wife and children. The evidence of the Registrar of the District shows that for a long course of years the parties were recognized as married citizens and even the family functions and ceremonies, such as, in particular the reception of the relations and other guests in the family house by Don Andris and Balahamy as host and hostess-all such functions were conducted on the footing alone that they were man and wife. No evidence whatsoever is afforded of repudiation of this relation by husband or wife or anybody.
In the case of Gokal Chand v. Parvin Kumari, AIR 1952 SC 231, the court observed that continuous cohabitation of woman as husband and wife and their treatment as such for a number of years may raise the presumption of marriage, but the presumption which may be drawn from long cohabitation is rebuttable and if there are circumstances which weaken and destroy that presumption, the court cannot ignore them.
It is well settled that the law presumes in favour of marriage and against concubinage, when a man and woman have cohabited continuously for a long period of time. However, the presumption can be rebutted by leading unimpeachable evidence. A heavy burden lies on a party, who seeks to deprive the relationship of legal origin. Dhannulal v.Ganeshram, 2015 (4) AWC 3539.

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Matrimonial Dispute – Interim Orders

As has been held in Arathi Bandi v. Bandi Jagadrashaka Rao, (2013) 15 SCC 790, a violation of interim or an interlocutory order passed by a court of competent jurisdiction ought to be viewed strictly if the rule of law is to be maintained. No litigant can be permitted to defy or decline adherence to an interim or an interlocutory order of a court merely because he or she is of the opinion that that order is incorrect, that has to be judged by a superior court or by another court having jurisdiction to do so. It is in this context that the observations of the Court in Sarita Sharma v. Sushil Sharma, (2000) 3 SCC 14 and Ruchi Majoo v. Sanjeev Majoo, (2011) 6 SCC 479 have to be appreciated. If a general principle, the violation of an interim or an interlocutory order is not viewed seriously, it will have widespread deleterious effects on the authority of courts to implement their interim or interlocutory orders or compel their adherence. It is common knowledge that in cases of matrimonial differences in our country, quite often more than one family court has jurisdiction over the subject matter in issue. In such a situation, can a litigant say that he or she will obey the interim or interlocutory order of a Family court and not that of another? Similarly, can one Family Court hold that an interim or an interlocutory order of another Family Court on the same subject matter may be ignored in the best interests and welfare of the child?. An interim or an interlocutory order is precisely what is, interim or interlocutory, and is always subject to modification or vacation by the court that passes that interim or interlocutory order. There is no finality attached to an interim or an interlocutory order. Surya Vadanan v. State of Tamil Nadu, (2015) 5 SCC 450.

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Relationship in the nature of marriage vis-à-vis marital relationship

Relationship of marriage continues, notwithstanding the fact that there are differences of opinions, marital unrest etc., even if they are not sharing a shared household, being based on law. But live-in relationship is purely an arrangement between the parties unlike, a legal marriage. Once a party to a live-in relationship determines that he/she does not wish to live in such a relationship, that relationship comes to an end. Further, in a relationship in the nature of marriage, the party asserting the existence of the relationship, at any stage or at any point of time, must positively prove the existence of the identifying characteristics of that relationship.
Many a times, it is the common intention of the parties to that relationship as to what their relationship is to be, and to involve and as to their respective roles and responsibilities, that primarily governs that relationship. Intention may be expressed or implied and what is relevant is their intention as to matters that are characteristic of a marriage. Having children is a strong circumstance to indicate a relationship in the nature of marriage. Indra Sarma v. V.K.V. Sarma, 2014 (84) ACC 290.

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Alienation of Affection

Alienation of affection by a stranger, if proved, is an intentional tort i.e. interference in the marital relationship with intent to alienate one spouse from the other. Alienation of affection is known as “Heart Balm” action. Anglo-Saxon common law on alienation of affection has not much roots in the country, the law is still in its nascent stage. Anglo-Saxon based action against the third parties involving tortious interference with the marital relationship was mainly compensatory in nature which was earlier available to the husband, but, of late, a wife could also lay such a claim complaining of alienation of affection. The object is to preserve marital harmony by deterring wrongful interference, thereby to save the institution of marriage. Both the spouses have a valuable interest in the married relationship, including its intimacy, companionship, support, duties, affection, welfare of children, etc.
Action for alienation lies for all improper intrusions or assaults on the marriage relationship by another, whether or not associated with “extramarital sex”, his or her continued overtures or sexual liaisons can be construed as something akin to an assumption of risk that his/her conduct will injure the marriage and give rise to an action. But all the same, a person is not liable for alienation of affection for merely becoming a passive object of affection. The liability arises only if there is any active participation, initiation or encouragement on the part of the defendant. Act which lead to loss of affection must be wrongful, intentional, calculated to entice the affection of one spouse away from the other, in order to support a cause of action for alienation of affection. For proving a claim for alienation of affection it is not necessary for a party to prove an adulterous relationship. Pinakin Mahipatray Rawal v. State of Gujarat, (2013) 10 SCC 48.

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