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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

संकट में पत्नी का साथ देना पति का कर्तव्य एवं जवाबदेही


                                                              

                                                                     REPORTABLE

                                                    IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                                                         CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

                                               TRANSFER PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 702 OF 2015

Vennangot Anuradha Samir                           …..Petitioner

                                   versus

Vennangot Mohandas Samir                          …Respondent

                                                                        O R D E R
M.Y. EQBAL, J.

      Heard learned counsel  appearing  for  the  parties  and  perused  the
records along with the affidavits and petitions.

2.    Admittedly, the marriage of the petitioner  with  the  respondent  was
solemnized in April, 2010 according to Hindu Vedic Rites.  At  the  time  of
marriage, the respondent-husband was a bachelor and the petitioner-wife  was
a divorcee.  It was a love marriage after both of them came in contact  with
each other in October,  2006.   In  2013,  some  misunderstanding  developed
between the  petitioner  and  the  respondent  as  a  result  of  which  the
petitioner left the house.

3.    In 2015, the  respondent-husband  filed  a  suit  for  dissolution  of
marriage by a decree  of  divorce  under  Section  13(1)(1a)  of  the  Hindu
Marriage Act on the ground that the petitioner-wife after solemnization   of
the marriage  had  committed  various  acts  of  cruelty.   Admittedly,  the
petitioner is  living  in  Hyderabad  with  her  parents.   The  petitioner,
therefore, moved an application before this Court for  transfer  of  divorce
suit pending  before  the  Family  Court  Bombay  to  the  Family  Court  at
Hyderabad.

4.    The transfer petition was listed  before  this  Court  on  28.08.2015,
when, at the request  of  the  counsel  for  the  parties,  the  matter  was
referred to Supreme Court Mediation Centre for amicable settlement.   Before
the Mediation Centre, a Settlement Agreement was filed  on  26.10.2015.   In
terms of the said Settlement Agreement,  the  respondent-husband  agreed  to
pay Rs.12,50,000/- (Twelve Lakhs  Fifty  Thousand  only)  towards  full  and
final settlement as alimony, maintenance for past and future  or  any  other
claim of the petitioner.  The respondent-husband had agreed to pay the  said
amount of Rs.12,50,000/- (Twelve Lakhs Fifty Thousand only), by way of  Bank
draft in the name of the Registrar, Supreme Court, which shall  be  paid  to
the petitioner-wife at the time of passing of decree of divorce   by  mutual
consent.

5.    On 6th November, 2015, the  case  was  again  listed  along  with  the
office report and Settlement Agreement.  The matter was adjourned to  enable
the parties to file appropriate application.

6.    Consequently, an application was filed purported to be  under  Section
13B of the Hindu Marriage Act with a prayer to treat  the  divorce  petition
pending before the Family Court, Bombay as an application under Section  13B
of the Act and treat the present application  as  second  motion  and  grant
divorce by way of mutual consent.

7.    In the said application  it  was  mentioned  that  petitioner-wife  is
suffering life threatening disease  and  urgently  requires  funds  for  her
medical treatment and also that she has to  depend  on  herself  for  proper
care.

8.     On  17.11.2015,  the  case  was  adjourned  at  the  request  of  the
petitioner-wife, to enable her to file additional documents  in  support  of
her case that she is suffering with life threatening disease. In  compliance
thereof additional documents have been brought on record.

9.    Perusal of the document i.e. the medical certificate, reveals  that  a
lump in the breast was found which highly suggests malignancy.  The  doctors
recommended for an immediate surgery and chemotherapy ranging from  6  to  8
cycles of adjuvant. It is mentioned that approximate costs  per  cycle  will
cost about Rs. 50,000/-.

10.   From the above mentioned  admitted  facts,  it  is  evident  that  the
petitioner needs sufficient amount of money  for  the  treatment  of  breast
cancer.  Hence, it cannot be ruled out that in order to  save  her  life  by
getting money, she agreed for a settlement of dissolution of  marriage.   On
these facts, a question that came in our mind is as  to  whether  the  Court
would be justified in  granting  a  decree  for  divorce  on  the  basis  of
settlement when the wife is suffering with breast cancer and is in  need  of
money for her treatment and can that be the  consideration  for  dissolution
of marriage.

11.   Hindu marriage is a sacred and holy  union  of  husband  and  wife  by
virtue of which the wife is completely transplanted in the household of  her
husband and takes a new birth. It is a  combination  of  bone  to  bone  and
flesh to flesh.  To a Hindu wife  her  husband  is  her  God  and  her  life
becomes one of the selfless service and profound dedication to her  husband.
She not only shares the life and  love,  but  the  joys  and  sorrows,  the
troubles and tribulation of her husband and becomes an integral part of  her
husband’s life and activities.  Colebrooke in his book “Digest of Hindu  Law
Volume II” described the status of the wife thus:-

“A wife is considered as half the body of her husband, equally  sharing  the
fruit of pure and impure acts:- whether she ascend  the pile  after  him  or
survive for the benefit of her husband, she is a faithful  wife.”

12.   Further Colebrooke in his book Digest of Hindu  Law  Volume-II  quoted
the Mahabharata at page 121 thus:-

“Where females are honoured, there the deities are pleased; but  where  they
are unhonoured there all religious acts become fruitless.”
This clearly illustrates the high position which is bestowed on Hindu  women
by the Shastric law.

13.   From the study of Hindu Law and different religious books,  it  cannot
be disputed that after marriage law enjoins the corresponding  duty  on  the
husband to look after her comforts and not only  to  provide  her  food  and
clothes but to protect her from all calamities  and  to  take  care  of  her
health and safety.

14.   In the peculiar facts of the present case if we consider  the  instant
settlement, which is nothing but a contract to dissolve  the  marriage,  the
Court has to satisfy itself that the contract is legal and valid in the  eye
of law.  From perusal of the facts of the case  and  the  development  which
has taken place in the present  case,  it  seems  that  the  petitioner-wife
agreed for divorce by mutual consent on the condition that  the  respondent-
husband will pay her  Rs.12,50,000/-  as  full  and  final  settlement.  The
petitioner-wife is suffering from such a disease which has compelled her  to
agree for the mutual consent  divorce.  The  fact  that  petitioner-wife  is
ready for the  mutual  consent  divorce  after  knowing  about  her  medical
condition raises a suspicion in our mind as to whether the consent  obtained
from the petitioner-wife is free as required by law for granting the  decree
of divorce by mutual consent.

15.   Section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act makes a  provision  of  divorce
by mutual consent, which reads as under:-

“13B Divorce by mutual consent—

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act  a  petition  for  dissolution  of
marriage by a decree of divorce may be presented to the  district  court  by
both  the  parties  to  a  marriage  together,  whether  such  marriage  was
solemnised  before  or  after  the  commencement  of   the   Marriage   Laws
(Amendment) Act, 1976 (68 of 1976),  on  the  ground  that  they  have  been
living separately for a period of one year or more, that they have not  been
able to live together and that they have mutually agreed that  the  marriage
should be dissolved.

(2) On the motion of both the parties  made  not  earlier  than  six  months
after the date of the presentation of  the  petition  referred  to  in  sub-
section (1) and not later than eighteen months after the said date,  if  the
petition is not withdrawn  in  the  meantime,  the  court  shall,  on  being
satisfied, after hearing the parties and after making  such  inquiry  as  it
thinks fit, that a marriage has been solemnised and that  the  averments  in
the petition are true, pass a decree of divorce declaring  the  marriage  to
be dissolved with effect from the date of the decree.”

16.   Section 23 casts a duty  upon  a  Court  to  record  its  satisfaction
before passing a decree in a  suit  or  proceeding.   Section  23(1)(bb)  is
also worth to be quoted hereinbelow:-

“23.Decree in proceedings :—

In any proceeding under this Act, whether defended or not, if the  court  is
satisfied that—
(a) ……………………………………………
(b) ……………………………………………
(bb) when a divorce is sought on the ground of mutual consent, such consent
has not been obtained by force, fraud or undue influence.”

17.   This Court elaborately discussed the aforesaid provisions in the  case
of Sureshta Devi vs. Om Prakash, (1991) 2 SCC 25, and observed thus:-
“……What is significant in this  provision  is  that  there  should  also  be
mutual consent when they move the court with a request to pass a  decree  of
divorce. Secondly, the court shall be satisfied about  the  bona  fides  and
the consent of the parties. If there is no mutual consent  at  the  time  of
the enquiry, the court gets no jurisdiction to make a  decree  for  divorce.
If the view is otherwise, the  court  could  make  an  enquiry  and  pass  a
divorce decree even at the instance of one of the parties  and  against  the
consent of the other. Such a decree cannot be regarded as decree  by  mutual
consent.”

18.   If we consider the provisions of  Indian  Contract  Act,  it  provides
that consent is said to be free when it is not caused by  “undue  influence”
as defined in Section 16 of the Act.  The contract is said to be induced  by
“undue influence” where the relations subsisting  between  the  parties  are
such that one of the parties is in a position to dominate the  will  of  the
other and uses that position to obtain an unfair advantage over  the  other.

19. One more doctrine is to be taken into consideration  i.e.  “Pre-existing
duty doctrine”.  It is a principle under the Contract Act that  states  that
if a party to a contract is under a pre-existing duty to  perform,  then  no
consideration is  given  for  any  modification  of  the  contract  and  the
modification is therefore voidable. In the 13th edition  of  the  Pollock  &
Mulla Indian contract and Specific relief Act in Vol.1, it is  mentioned  at
page 101 about the Pre-existing obligation under law which provides that:-

“The performance of what one is already bound to do, either by  general  law
or by a specific obligation to the other party, is not a good  consideration
for a promise; because such performance is no legal burden to  the  promise,
but  rather  relives  him  of  a  duty.  Neither  is  the  promise  of  such
performance a  consideration,  since  it  adds  nothing  to  the  obligation
already existing.”

20.   We can apply this principle in the present case.  As discussed  above,
it is a duty of the respondent-husband  to  take  care  of  the  health  and
safety of the petitioner-wife. In the instant case  also  it  is  a  primary
duty of the husband only to provide facilities  for  the  treatment  of  the
petitioner.  This is a  pre-existing  duty  of  the  husband,  provided  the
husband has sufficient means and he is diligently doing his part  in  taking
care of  her.   In  the  present  case,  by  the  settlement  agreement  the
respondent-husband is promising to do something which  he  is  already  duty
bound, is not a valid consideration for the settlement.

21. In the peculiar facts and circumstances  of  the  case,  we,  therefore,
pass the following order:-

(i)  The transfer petition for  the  transfer  of  matrimonial  suit  being
petition No.A-642 of  2015  pending  before  the  Family  Court  at  Bombay,
Maharashtra to Family Court  at  Hyderabad  is  allowed.   The  petition  is
ordered  to  be  transferred  accordingly.   The  transferor   court   shall
forthwith transmit the record  of  the  aforesaid  case  to  the  transferee
court.

(ii)  The respondent-husband shall pay a sum of Rs.Five Lacs  (Rs.5,00,000/-
) out of Rs.12,50,000/- to the petitioner-wife  immediately  within  a  week
for her treatment and meeting other medical expenses.

(iii) After the petitioner is fully cured from the  disease  or  within  six
months whichever is earlier,  the  Family  Court  at  Hyderabad,  where  the
divorce petition is ordered to be transferred, shall take up the case  along
with a fresh application that may be filed by the parties under Section  13B
for divorce by mutual consent.  After compliance  of  all  the  formalities,
the  Family  Court  at  Hyderabad  shall  dispose  of  those  petitions   in
accordance with law after recording its satisfaction and giving  opportunity
of hearing to both the parties.

J. M.Y. Eqbal

J. C. Nagappan

New Delhi
December 02, 2015





संबन्धित खबरों के लिए क्लिक करें

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