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Husband Comparing Wife To Other Women Amounts To Mental Cruelty, Says Kerala HC. When Will We Stop Pitting Women Against Each Other?

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As women, all our life we’ve been pitted against each other. From childhood to adulthood, we’ve been compared to other women and pulled down and taught to see them as competition. After years of being compared, what does a woman expect from her partner? To see her as a separate individual and not compare her to other women. But when that doesn’t happen, it’s not only painful for her but also leads to a slow death of the relationship she has with her partner. In a similar case, the Kerala High Court ruled that the repeated and constant taunts by a husband comparing his wife to other women amounts to mental cruelty.

A Division Bench of Justices Anil K Narendran and CS Sudha were hearing an appeal filed by the husband challenging the decree of dissolution of marriage by decree of divorce granted by the lower court under Section 10 (vii) of the Indian Divorce Act for non-consummation of marriage. The wife had accused the husband of mental cruelty and also referred to instances of physical abuse. Hearing the case, the Kerala High Court noted that the constant and repeated taunts of the husband that his wife is not up to his expectations and comparisons with other women would be mental cruelty that a wife cannot be expected to put up with. The court observed that the conduct of a spouse falls within the grounds of cruelty only if that has weightage to the extent that his/her partner cannot be reasonably expected to live with and it should be more serious than the “ordinary wear and tear of married life”, as quoted by Live Law.

The husband had contended that the order of the lower court was erroneously passed as the grounds of non-consumation of marriage were not established. On the other hand, the wife’s counsel had stated that the grounds of non-consummation filed in the initial petition were an inadvertent mistake on the counsel’s end. The advocate further stated that necessary pleadings have been brought by an amendment which amended the pleadings containing the necessary ingredients of a case under Section 10 (vii) of the Divorce Act. The petitioner in the case had also challenged the lower court’s findings on the grounds of cruelty raised by the wife.

The wife had alleged that the husband had a short temper and was easily provoked due to which he would pick quarrels with the petitioner on trivial matters. She had also alleged that he would lose his temper and get violent and physically assault his family members. She accused him of having the habit of belittling and humiliating her by comparing her with other women. “Continuous ill-treatment, cessation of marital intercourse, studied neglect, indifference on the part of the husband, and an assertion on the part of the husband that the wife is unchaste, are all factors which lead to mental or legal cruelty,” said the Kerala High Court in the case, as quoted by Live Law.

Also Read: Practice Of Talaq-E-Hasan As “Not So Improper”, Muslim Women Have The Choice Of “Khula”, Says Supreme Court

The Kerala High Court observed that physical violence is not essential to constitute cruelty. The court further noted that in the present case, from the pleadings and testimonies presented before the court, it can be said that the wife cannot be expected to put up with the “demeaning attitude and behaviour” of her husband. It further ruled that the absence of intention does not make a difference and said that intention is not a necessary element in cruelty. The Division Benched noted that relief cannot be denied on the grounds that there is no wilful ill-treatment while dismissing the plea.

Well, this is an important win for women. No woman should have to live with a partner who demeans her and compares her to other women.

“No Point Keeping A Marriage Alive With Legal Ties After Irretrievable Breakdown,” Says Kerala High Court

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