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Bombay HC allows woman to act as guardian to incapacitated husband

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New Delhi: The Bombay High Court has allowed a woman to act as her incapacitated husband’s guardian.

The division bench of Justices Ujjal Bhuyan and Milind Jadhav heard a petition filed by Rajni Hariom Sharma, seeking guardianship of her husband who is in a vegetative state.

Advocate Kenny V. Thakkar, counsel for the petitioner, argued that her husband, who has been in a permanent vegetative state since 2018, is a businessman. The petitioner was not permitted to engage in financial transactions on his behalf to maintain their family because she did not have a court order appointing her as his guardian.

AGP SS Panchpor, on behalf of the state of Maharashtra, raised objections regarding the maintainability of the wife’s plea on the ground that the appointment of guardians is essentially a private matter to be declared by a civil court. The petitioner had approached the High Court directly in the matter instead of first approaching lower court.

The court in its order noted that at present there is no legislation in India relating to appointment of guardians to patients lying in comatose or vegetative state.

However, as per Hindu Vedic philosophy, marriage is a sacrament that contemplates the union of two souls, it said.

Taking note of the petitioner and her husband’s 20-odd years of marriage, and her care for him through his vegetative condition, the High Court deemed it proper to declare her his guardian.

The court applied the doctrine of parens patriae evolved in the Aruna Shanbaug decision and appointed her as her husband’s guardian. 

The bench further noted that Article 226 of the Constitution afforded such powers to the Court to “further the cause of justice.”

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“In such circumstances, there can be no manner of doubt that conceptually the wife can be said to be best-suited to be the guardian of her husband who is under a state of incapacity or disability on account of being in a comatose condition or vegetative state,” held the High Court.

Read the judgment here;

Rajni-Hariom-Sharma

– India Legal Bureau

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