Consumerism has affected marital relationships in Kerala: High Court

Kerala High Court. Photo: E V Sreekumar.

Kochi: The recent remarks by the Kerala High Court on divorces and marital relationships in the state has created controversy.

The court observed that consumer culture of 'use and throw' has taken a toll on marital relationships and that the new generation perceives marriage as a hindrance to enjoy life.

The High Court division bench of Justice Muhammed Mustaque and Justice Sophy Thomas made the controversial remark, while dismissing a petition by a man seeking divorce.

"Kerala, which is known as God's own country, was once renowned for its strong family bonds. But the current trend is to break marital relationships over flimsy or selfish matters, and extra-marital affairs. If the divorcees and deserted children form the majority of the population, it will affect the tranquility of the society and stunt its growth. The new generation sees marriage as an evil that prevents them from enjoying a life without any obligations,” the HC observed.

"A wife is considered a cause of 'constant trouble' nowadays. The consumer culture of ‘use and throw’ has affected marital relationships. Live-in relationships, wherein couples say goodbye and part ways at any point, is on the rise,” the HC further remarked.

"Marriage is not a mere ritual or an empty ceremony for licensing the sexual urge of the parties," it added.

Denying the husband's plea for divorce, the high court said that "courts cannot come to the aid of an erring person to legalise his activities, which are per se illegal".

The HC was dismissing a divorce plea of a man who abandoned his wife and three daughters after nine years of marriage subsequent to an alleged affair with another woman.

The bench said if the husband, who was having an affair, wanted to avoid his wife and children, he cannot seek the assistance of the courts to get his "unholy alliance" or present relationship legalised.

"Law and religion consider marriage as an institution by itself and parties to the marriage are not permitted to walk away from that relationship unilaterally, unless and until they satisfy the legal requirements to dissolve their marriage through a court of law or in accordance with the personal law which governs them," the high court said.

The husband, whose plea for divorce was rejected by a Family Court, had moved the high court in appeal claiming cruelty on the part of his wife.

He had said in his plea that their marital relationship from 2009, when they got married, to 2018 was smooth, but thereafter, the wife developed behavioural abnormalities and quarreled with him alleging that he was having an affair.

The high court rejected his contentions saying that when a "wife had reasonable grounds to suspect the chastity or fidelity of her husband, and if she questions him, or expresses her deep pain and sorrow before him, it cannot be termed as a behavioural abnormality, as it is the natural human conduct of a normal wife".

"The normal human reactions or responses from a wife, on knowing that her husband was having illicit connection with another lady, cannot be termed as behavioural abnormality or cruelty from the part of the wife, so as to dissolve their marriage," the bench said.

It further said that mere quarrels, ordinary wear and tear of matrimonial relationships or casual outburst of some emotional feelings cannot be treated as cruelties warranting a divorce.

The wife was also supported by her mother-in-law and her husband's relatives all of whom said that she was a good natured lady who loved her spouse and family, the high court noted in its order.

The high court also noted the mother-in-law's contention that her son was unhappy with her and did not even hesitate to question her chastity for supporting her daughter-in-law.

"The available facts and circumstances clearly point to the fact that in the year 2017 the appellant developed some illicit intimacy with another lady and he wanted to avoid his wife and children from his life, so as to live with that lady.

"Since, no act of cruelties, able to cause a reasonable apprehension in the mind of the appellant that it would be harmful or injurious for him to live with the respondent was proved by the appellant, he is not entitled to get a decree of divorce on the ground of matrimonial cruelties...In the result, the appeal is dismissed," the high court said.

It also noted that the wife was ready to accept the husband if he was ready to return to her and their children and therefore, "there was nothing to show that the chances of an amicable reunion is foreclosed forever".

(With PTI inputs.)

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