NEW DELHI: The slap was followed by a taunt: “You deserve a slap, not tea.” This is how Rajni Patil replied to her husband Sanjay’s request for a cup of tea. The abuse did not end there. She tried to hit him on the eyes and pressured him to move out of his ancestral home. In his divorce petition, Sanjay stated his wife has been mentally and physically abusing him since their arranged marriage in 1997.
After 19 years of marriage, Sanjay was granted a divorce. The Delhi High Court verdict delivered on May 23 is likely to set a precedent. The court held that it is not always a wife who can be a victim of cruelty, but a husband can be victimised too. Justice Vipin Sanghi, while granting divorce, observed, “...what emerges is that the girl’s conduct was such that the parties could not have lived peacefully and happily on a sustained basis.” He pointed out that Rajni asking Sanjay to leave his parents was a mental cruelty and a valid ground for divorce.
As per law, the grounds of divorce can be cruelty, adultery, desertion, conversion, mental disorder, leprosy or any serious communicable disease, after a couple fails to resume co-habitation after a decree of separation. Besides, a wife can also seek divorce if the husband has indulged in rape, bestiality and sodomy, or if there’s a second marriage by husband. Divorce would also be applicable if his whereabouts are unknown for a certain period of time, and if the husband is convicted for a crime.
Legal experts say there are inconsequential reasons too cited in divorce petitions these days such as refusal to stay with in-laws, no desire to experiment with sex or unwillingness to do household chores. Husbands allege wives do not have table manners or or refuse to drink at parties.