Asking wife to do household chores is not cruelty but asking husband to live separately from his family is: Delhi High Court

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The Delhi High Court, while hearing a husband’s appeal against the decision of the family court rejecting his plea seeking dissolution of marriage on the grounds of cruelty by the wife, observed that a husband expecting his wife to do household work cannot be termed as cruelty. The bench said, “In a catena of decisions, it has already been held that if a married woman is asked to do household work, the same cannot be equated to the work of a maid servant and shall be counted as her love and affection for her family.” While stating this, the HC bench observed that when the parties enter into wedlock, their primary intent is to share the responsibilities of future life. It added, “In certain strata, the husband takes over the financial obligations and the wife accepts household responsibility. Such is the present case. Even if the appellant (husband) expected the respondent (wife) to do household chores, it cannot be termed as cruelty.” The matter was heard by a two-judge bench consisting of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Neena Bansal Krishna. 

In this case, the appellant (husband) is a member of the Force (CISF). In his appeal, he said that he was aggrieved by the wife’s non-contribution in household work, false implication in criminal cases, and abandonment of the matrimonial home. He also alleged that his wife and her parents insisted him to live separately from his family. During the proceedings, the bench noted that the husband ‘bowed to the desires of the wife’ and lived separately from his family to save his matrimonial life. Further, the HC observed, “On one hand respondent denied to live with her in-laws, and over it, she chose to frequently live with her parents. To nurture the matrimonial bond, it is of high significance that parties live together and avoid leaving each other’s company frequently. Temporary separation gives a sense of insecurity in the mind of a spouse that the other is not willing to continue the matrimonial bond.”

The HC also opined that the wife has no interest in living with a joint family. The husband tried his best to keep the wife happy by arranging separate accommodations. Despite this, the wife chose to stay with her family. The bench further said that by doing this the wife not only ignored matrimonial obligations but also deprived the husband of his fatherhood by keeping him away from his son. Considering all these aspects, the HC bench ordered “appellant has been subjected to cruelty at the hands of respondent-wife. The impugned judgment dated 25.11.2019 is hereby set aside and the appellant is granted a divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.”