Bombay HC: Taunting your wife over her cooking skills or her English is not cruelty
"Cruelty implies ‘harsh and harmful’ conduct with certain intensity and persistence," the court explained
Has your husband ever taunted your culinary skills or made fun of your English speaking skills? If so, then you cannot call it cruelty! Yes, you read that right.
The Bombay High Court has reportedly held that ordinary discord in marital life or differences between man and wife cannot amount to cruelty.
The court stated:"According to the mother of the deceased, when her daughter informed her husband that she was feeling uneasy and unwell after he has asked her to make tea for his mother, he started saying insulting things about her parents. This incident, according to the prosecution, as reflected from the evidence of parents and brother of the deceased triggered her suicide. Prime facie, this discloses the hyper sensitivity of a wife, and an ordinary discord in matrimonial life."
This observation was held when the Bombay High Court granted bail to a man. He was charged with abetment of suicide of his deceased wife and also for showing cruelty against her.
He was charged with being cruel in his remarks towards her cooking and her English speaking skills. The court observed that this behavior of the wife reportedly reflected the "hyper sensitivity of a wife.”
“A look at the evidence of the parents of the deceased (name withheld) prime facie shows that they have spoken about matrimonial cruelty rather than legal cruelty, as according to the their averments, taunts to the deceased were to the effect that she did not know how to speak English, how to cook food etc,” Justice A M Badar was quoted as saying.
The man reportedly taunted his wife for making 'kachcha chapatti,' but the court did not consider it cruelty. In fact, they even defined the word 'cruelty.'
Justice Badar stated, “Cruelty implies ‘harsh and harmful’ conduct with certain intensity and persistence. It covers acts causing both physical and mental agony and torture or tyranny and harm as well as unending accusations and recrimination reflecting bitterness putting the victim thereof to intense miscarry.”
He added, "A willful conduct of such a nature as is likely to propel or compel a married woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to her life is required to be established. Ordinary petulance and discord or differences in domestic life does not amount to cruelty."
This controversial observation is not the first of its kind. In October last year, the Delhi High Court had observed that a wife's refusal to have sex with her husband amounted to cruelty and can be a ground for divorce.
Another judgment observed that a wife cannot not separate her husband from his parents as it amounted to cruelty.
“It is not a common practice or desirable culture for a Hindu son in India to get separated from the parents upon getting married at the instance of the wife, especially when the son is the only earning member in the family,” the court stated in its judgement.
“A son, brought up and given education by his parents, has a moral and legal obligation to take care and maintain the parents, when they become old and when they have either no income or have a meagre income,” they added.
While these two judgments became a subject of much debate and discussion, it seems that the recent observation will also become one. It is unfortunate that women in India still suffer from traditional patriarchy and therefore, it is imperative that we teach our sons to be more respectful and caring of their partners.
- To be respectful: By virtue of respecting girls from an early age grooms the boy to respect women later. This can happen when parents take an initiative to teach their sons first that everybody is equal and discrimination on the basis of gender is wrong! Next, lead by example. Respect the women in your own house, in order for your sons to learn the same.
- To be fair: It can be easy to get carried away and not see everything fairly, especially when it comes to ones family. But let's not forget, the daughter-in-law who leaves her home and family behind deserves a fair chance to be heard. After all she is sacrificing so much for her in-laws. Lets learn to respect that.
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