Wilful Denial of Sexual Relationship by Spouse Cruelty: Delhi HC

Wilful denial of sexual relationship by a spouse amounts to cruelty, the Delhi High Court has ruled while upholding the divorce granted to a couple whose marriage effectively subsisted for barely 35 days and failed on account of non-consummation of marriage.

A bench headed by Justice Suresh Kumar Kait, while rejecting the wife’s appeal against the family court order granting divorce, said the high court has ruled in a case that “marriage without sex is an anathema” and that “there is nothing (more) fatal to marriage than disappointment in sexual relationship”.

In the present case, the court observed, the marriage was not consummated on account of resistance by the wife who also filed a police complaint claiming she was harassed for dowry about which there was “no cogent evidence”. This can also be termed as cruelty, it said.

“In (a case), it (the high court has) .. observed that wilful denial of sexual relationship by a spouse amounts to cruelty, especially when the parties are newly married and this itself is a ground for grant of divorce,” said the bench, also comprising Justice Neena Bansal Krishna, in an order dated September 11.

“In the present case, not only did the marriage between the parties subsist for barely 35 days but failed completely on account of deprivation of conjugal rights and non-consummation of marriage,” the court said referring to the period the woman spent at her matrimonial home.

It cannot be overlooked that such deprivation over a period of more than 18 years itself amounts to mental cruelty, the court said.

The court recorded the couple got married according to Hindu customs and rites in 2004 and the wife soon went back to her parental home and did not return.

The husband later approached the family court for divorce on the grounds of cruelty and desertion.

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In its order, the court said the family court “rightly concluded” that although the ground of desertion was not proved, the conduct of the wife towards the husband amounted to cruelty, entitling him to the decree of divorce.

“Making allegations of dowry harassment resulted in registration of a FIR and the trial to follow can only be termed as an act of cruelty when the appellant has failed to prove even one incident of dowry demand,” it said.

“In (a case), the Apex Court laid down various acts which may amount to mental cruelty and one such illustration was unilateral decision of refusal to have intercourse for considerable period of time without there being no physical incapacity or valid reason,” added the court.

The court said the evidence on record established that the wife did not permit the husband to consummate the marriage.

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