The Delhi High Court has granted divorce decree to a man, ruling that pressuring a person to abandon his parents and live with his in-laws as "ghar jamai" amounts to cruelty.
The decision came after the man's divorce petition was initially dismissed by a family court.
The high court's bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna set aside the family court's order and granted divorce to the couple based on the grounds of cruelty and desertion by the wife.
In his plea, the man had stated that he got married in May 2001, and within a year, his wife left their matrimonial home in Gujarat and returned to her parents' place in Delhi while she was pregnant.
The man stated that he made sincere efforts to reconcile, but his wife and her family members insisted that he move from Gujarat to Delhi and live with them as "ghar jamai". However, he refused to do so as he had aging parents to take care of.
The woman, on the other hand, claimed harassment for dowry and alleged that the man was a drunkard who subjected her to physical abuse and cruelty. She left the matrimonial home in March 2002.
The high court referred to a Supreme Court judgement that stated asking a son to separate from his family amounts to cruelty.
The judgement had noted that for a Hindu son in India, separating from his family after marriage is not common or desirable, and he has a moral and legal obligation to care for his parents when they age.
The high court held that the insistence of the wife's family for the husband to abandon his parents and become a "ghar jamai" amounts to cruelty.
It said that the foundation of any matrimonial relationship is cohabitation and conjugal harmony, and the core of a marriage is the comfort and peace derived from each other's company.
The high court also noted that the parties had lived together for a few months, suggesting an inability to sustain their marital relationship. It concluded that the deprivation of conjugal relationship is an act of extreme cruelty.
The court highlighted that the man had been acquitted in a criminal case filed by his wife, in which she accused him of cruelty and breach of trust. The woman's allegations were not substantiated, and the court noted that false complaints constitute an act of cruelty.
Regarding allegations of extramarital relationships, the court observed that long separation had led both the man and woman to seek companionship outside their marriage.
The court ultimately concluded that the evidence showed the woman had withdrawn from her husband's company without a reasonable cause, leading to desertion.