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Well-qualified woman wishing to take up job after marriage does not amount to cruelty: Bombay High Court

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The Bombay High Court has dismissed a divorce petition by ruling that a wife desiring to work after marriage does not amount to cruelty under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act.

The Nagpur Bench of Justice Atul Chandurkar and Justice Urmila Joshi-Phalke passed the order on a petition filed by one Pundlik Martandrao Yevatkar through Advocate R.G. Kavimanda, alleging that his wife Shubhangi picked up fights with him, stating that she wanted to work and also threatened him that she would not beget a child, till she secured a job.

The High Court on Tuesday directed the husband to prove that the conduct of his wife had made it difficult for him to lead life with her. It said the petitioner had not adduced the evidence regarding the time and manner in which he was harassed.

As per the two-Judge Bench, the allegations made by the husband fell under routine wear and tear in nature. The marital life should be accessed as a whole and few isolated instances over a certain period do not amount to cruelty, it noted.

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The High Court pointed out that the allegation levelled by Pundlik Yevatkar that his wife aborted her pregnancy without his consent was also wrong, since the woman had refused to take tuition classes owing to her pregnancy and thus, was prepared to take the responsibility of the child.

The Bench noted that it was the prerogative of the woman on whether to continue with her pregnancy or not. It said the right of a woman to have reproductive choice was an insegregable part of her personal liberty as envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution and that, she cannot be forced to give birth to a child.

The High Court also quashed claim of the husband regarding desertion. Pundlik alleged that his wife left his house within four years of their marriage, thus deserting him.

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The Court then noted that the husband did not make much efforts to bring her back to the matrimonial house.

It also took note of the wife’s contention that she was constrained to leave the matrimonial house as her character was suspected.

The bench ruled that except the ground enumerated under Section 13 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the marriage solemnised under the Act cannot be dissolved on any other ground.

Advocate DS Khushlani represented Shubhangi.

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