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MP High Court’s Bold Move: Refusal of Physical Relations After Marriage Deemed Cruelty

Husband WifeMP High Court News: While giving its verdict in a divorce case, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has said that the wife’s refusal to have physical relations with her husband after marriage is akin to cruelty. The court has termed this act of the woman as cruelty under the Hindu Marriage Act 1955. The High Court has also upheld the decision of the Satna Family Court to grant divorce on this ground.

 A woman resident of Sidhi had filed an appeal in the High Court challenging the divorce order issued by the Family Court, Satna. Hearing the case, the division bench of Acting Chief Justice Sheel Nagu and Justice Amar Nath (Kesharwani) dismissed the petition filed by the wife, terming the divorce order given by the Satna Family Court as correct.

On the very first night, the wife refused to have sex

n fact, the couple got married on 26 May 2013 according to Hindu customs. However, on the very first night, the wife refused to have physical relations with her husband, saying that she did not like him and that she had married him under pressure from her parents. After this, the wife went to her maternal home on 29 May 2013 to appear for her M.Com final examination. On 31 May 2013, when the husband and his family members went to bring her back, her parents refused to send her citing her ongoing examinations.

Following which, the husband filed a divorce petition under Section 13(1)(ia) and (ib) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 on the grounds of cruelty and desertion by the wife. The Chief Justice of the Family Court in Satna accepted the husband’s application and granted a decree of divorce on August 17, 2021.

Important legal issues

The first legal issue before the Madhya Pradesh High Court was whether a wife’s refusal to have physical relations with her husband and then abandoning him amounted to cruelty and was a ground for divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act.

After examining the evidence produced by both the sides, the High Court made several important observations:-

The court noted that the woman had refused to go with her husband and in-laws on May 31, 2013.

The court also found that the statement recorded by the wife before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Sidhi, confirms that there was no physical relationship between the couple during their stay at her in-laws’ house.

Citing Supreme Court’s judgment in Naveen Kohli vs Neelu Kohli (2006), the High Court said that once the parties separate and the separation continues for a long period, it can be presumed that the marriage has broken down.

The court further said that the refusal of the appellant i.e. the wife to have physical relations with the respondent i.e. the husband is tantamount to cruelty to him.

Citing the wife’s confession in court and the long period of separation (more than 11 years), the court ruled that no impropriety was found in the decision and decree of the Family Court which required interference. With this, the court dismissed the wife’s appeal and upheld the decision of the Family Court.