Refusal to wear ‘sakha’, ‘sindoor’ is refusal to accept marriage: Gauhati HC

Overturning family court’s decision to grant man’s plea for divorce, HC observes that under such circumstances compelling the husband to continue to be in matrimony may be construed as harassment

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A Hindu married woman’s refusal to wear sakha – traditional bangles worn by married women in Eastern India and sindoor (vermillion) – as per marriage customs, shows her refusal to accept her marriage to the husband, the Gauhati High Court observed recently while granting a man’s plea for divorce.

“Under such circumstances, compelling the husband to continue to be in matrimony with the wife may be construed to be harassment,” a two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Ajai Lamba and Justice Soumitra Saikia said in an order on June 19.

The husband’s plea for divorce was earlier rejected by a family court in Assam, on the ground that the woman was not found to have inflicted any cruelty against the petitioner, a Hindustan Times report said, talking about the judgment.

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According to the report, a month after the couple got married in February 2012, the woman wanted to live in a separate house as she did not want to live in a joint family.

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The husband in his petition alleged that their relationship worsened because of her demand and as “his wife also failed to conceive a child.”

According to the HT report, the woman left her husband’s house in 2013 and filed a case against him and his family under Sections 498A (husband or his relative subjecting a married woman to cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

After being acquitted, the husband filed a divorce plea, citing cruelty by his wife. She in turn alleged harassment against her husband and his family for dowry and that she was denied food and medical treatment.

Overturning the lower court’s decision, the high court said that the allegation by the woman were not sustained.

“Such acts of lodging criminal cases on unsubstantiated allegations against the husband and/or the husband’s family members amounts to cruelty,” the court said in its order.

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Taking note of the husband’s allegation that the woman refused to wear sakha and sindoor, the court observed that the contention hasn’t been disputed by her.

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