SC: Hindu husband can file for divorce if wife asks him to separate from parents

SC: Hindu husband can file for divorce if wife asks him to separate from parents

"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 (daughter-in-law)," the court observed

Just months after the Supreme Court observed that daughters-in-law should be treated as family and not housemaids, the honourable court has made yet another observation about the duty of a daughter-in-law in India.

Only this time, it's not entirely in their favour and may even outrage some factions of women!

What the court said

The bench of Justices Anil R. Dave and L. Nageshwara Rao observed that if a Hindu daughter-in-law tries to stop her husband from fulfiling his "moral and legal obligation to take care and maintain the parents," it can be a ground for divorce.

"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.

They also added that it was the obligation of the son, who has been raised by his parents, to make sure that his parents are taken care of.

"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.

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The court also in a way defined what daughters-in-law are required to do after marriage through this observation. Here are the two prominent statements:

  • In India, generally people do not subscribe to the western thought, where, upon getting married or attaining majority, the son gets separated from the family.
  • In normal circumstances, a wife is expected to be with the family of the husband after the marriage.

Continue reading to see why the daughter-in-law cannot completely control their husband's income. 

'Pious obligation' of son to maintain parents

In their explosive observation, the court also maintained that "in a Hindu society, it is a pious obligation of the son to maintain the parents. If a wife makes an attempt to deviate from the normal practice and normal custom of the society, she must have some justifiable reason for that..."

The court also noted that when a girl gets married into a family, she becomes an integral part of her husband's family and has the responsibility to now take care of them.

Duty of a daughter-in-law

The court also observed that "She (daughter-in-law) becomes integral to and forms part of the family of the husband and normally without any justifiable strong reason, she would never insist that her husband should get separated from the family and live only with her."

This observation came into light when the Supreme Court granted divorce to a Karnataka-based couple, who were earlier denied a decree of divorce in the High Court.

Judgment of the case that is the basis of this observation

The Supreme Court overruled the judgement of a Family Court and stated that the daughter-in-law wanted her husband's invome to be spent on herself and that was "absolutely unjustified."

"Upon appreciation of the evidence, the trial Court came to the conclusion that merely for monetary considerations, the Respondent wife wanted to get her husband separated from his family. The averment of the Respondent was to the effect that the income of the Appellant was also spent for maintaining his family. The said grievance of the Respondent is absolutely unjustified," the court said.

They also observed that no son wants to be separated from his parents who depended on him for support.

"In our opinion, normally, no husband would tolerate this and no son would like to be separated from his old parents and other family members, who are also dependent upon his income," the honourable court said.

The court also observed that the daughter-in-law unfoundedly questioned the character of her husband and tried to prove that he was having an illegal affair with the maid. The court observed that all of this mounted to "cruelty."

What's your take?

While these observations by the court have gone in favour of the said son, the question many are now raising is whether it applies to the daughter's family in case she the only sole breadwinner (for her parents). What about taking care of her parents?

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Written by

Deepshikha Punj

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