Primitive mindset of expecting married woman to do all household work needs to change: Bombay High Court

In modern society, the burden of household responsibilities has to be borne by both husband and wife equally, the Court said while dismissing a divorce petition.
Bombay High Court
Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court recently deprecated the primitive mindset of society which expects women to shoulder the responsibility of the household.

A Bench of Justices Nitin W Sambre and Sharmila U Deshmukh said that in a modern society, both husband and wife should bear household responsiblities equally.

"In modern society, the burden of household responsibilities has to be borne by both husband and wife equally. The primitive mindset expecting the woman of the house to solely shoulder the household responsibilities needs to undergo a positive change," the order stated.

The Court was hearing an appeal by a husband against a 2018 order of a family court rejecting his divorce petition. 

The husband sought divorce on the grounds that his wife was constantly in touch with her mother on the phone, was not doing any household work and that he had to leave for work without food in the morning. 

Additionally, he alleged that his wife was not conducting herself in a proper manner and used to abuse his parents.

The High Court observed that both spouses were working and that expecting just the wife to do all household work reflected a regressive mindset.

"The admitted position is that both the appellant and the respondent were employed and as such, expecting the respondent to do all the household work reflects a regressive mindset," the Court said.

The Court also observed that a wife cannot be expected to sever all ties with her parents after her marriage. 

"Being in contact with one’s parents cannot by any stretch of imagination be construed as inflicting mental agony on the other party. In our view, putting restrictions on her to curtail her contact with her parents, has, in fact, subjected her to mental cruelty apart from physical cruelty which has been established by incidents in 2011."

The couple got married in 2010 in Bihar as per Hindu rites and then had a court marriage in Pune in March 2011. They had a child in 2013. However, due to certain issues, they started living separately since 2013.

The husband sent a legal notice to the wife seeking her cohabitation. When the wife refused to cohabit, the husband filed an application for dissolution of marriage before a family court in Pune on the ground that there was an irretrievable breakdown of marriage.

The family court rejected the application, opining that no genuine and bona fide attempts were made to resume cohabitation and that the husband's case was of normal wear and tear in a relationship.

The High Court found that the husband could not prove that he was subjected to cruelty.

"In our opinion, cruelty generally refers to a series of acts occurring frequently that result in causing such mental or physical agony to the wronged party that the court would be left with no option but to dissolve the marriage, which is not so in the instant case," the Court said while dismissing the appeal.

Advocates AP Singh appeared for the husband.

Advocates Amey D Deshpande appeared for the wife.

[Read order]

Bombay High Court order dated September 6.pdf
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