A divorce granted by the Guwahati High Court, to a husband, saying that his wife’s refusal to wear a “shaka” (conch shell bangle), and “sindoor” (vermillion) on her forehead as per Hindu customs, signified her refusal to accept the marriage, has sparked a Twitter debate in India. Many tweeps, especially women, shared the story and said they could not believe that this was a 21st century court order.
Tweep @ankitaup posted: “Wearing sindoor or bangles should be a woman's choice. Have you ever seen a man doing the same thing for a woman?”
According to a report on livelaw.in, a legal news portal, the hearing of the matrimonial appeal filed by the husband, took place on June 19. A bench comprising Chief Justice Ajai Lamba, and Justice Soumitra Saikia, observed that if a woman has entered into marriage according to “Hindu rituals and customs, her refusal to wear 'sakha and sindoor' will project her to be unmarried and/or signify her refusal to accept the marriage”.
Calling it the order “regressive”, @AdityaDubey2003 tweeted: “… that’s an unfortunate and regressive judgment and deserves to be challenged before Supreme Court.”
And, Twitter user @Sucharitaseng posted: “Wow, amazing! Seriously at times I wonder if we are heading back to the 17th century. Ah, patriarchy!”
The bench had set aside the family court order, which had earlier rejected the man's plea for divorce stating that no cruelty was found on the part of the wife.
According to a report by the Press Trust of India (PTI), the court observed: “… Such categorical stand of the respondent (wife) points to the clear intention of the respondent that she is unwilling to continue her conjugal life with the appellant.”
Tweep @aaadubey1 posted: “Sindoor is essential for married women, if they want to keep the marriage... Indian judiciary going for long shot on cultural compulsion trajectory... a worrisome tread.”
The couple were married on February 17, 2012. However, they started living separately since June 2013, after the woman expressed her desire to not live with his family members.
The court further observed that the woman had refused to live with her husband’s family and had forced him to provide her a separate accommodation, which may be “construed as an act of cruelty”.
The judges clarified: “The family court had completely ignored the fact that the woman compelled and prevented her husband from performing his statutory duties towards his aged mother under the provisions of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.”
According to the report, she lodged a police complaint against her husband, and his family members for alleged torture. However, her complaint was not sustained.
Based on this, the Court said that compelling a man to stay married to a woman under such circumstances, “may be construed to be harassment inflicted upon him and his family”.
"Such acts of lodging criminal cases on unsubstantiated allegations against the husband and/or the husband’s family members amounts to cruelty as held by the Supreme Court," the judges said in the order.
“It is evident that there will be no purpose served to keep the marriage alive as there was no matrimonial harmony between the parties to be reached,” it added.