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Kerala High Court Asserts Women’s Independence while Rejecting Patriarchal Views in Divorce Case

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Kerala HC Law Insider

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Published on: October 20, 2023 at 16:25 IST

The Kerala High Court has emphasized that women’s decisions are in no way subordinate to the opinions of their mothers or mothers-in-law.

This assertion came during a divorce case, where Justice Devan Ramachandran firmly rejected patriarchal notions and challenged a family court’s order that had dismissed a divorce plea while labeling the wife’s complaints as “ordinary wear and tear.”

The family court order had advised the estranged spouses to reconcile and act in accordance with the “sanctity of married life,” implying that the wife should listen to her mother and mother-in-law. However, the Kerala High Court found this approach problematic and out of touch with contemporary values.

Justice Ramachandran, who presided over the case, called the family court’s order “patriarchal to the core” and stated, “I’m sorry that’s not the way the ethos of 2023 continues.” He clarified that women’s decisions should not be considered inferior to those of their mothers or mothers-in-law, emphasizing that “women are not slaves of their mothers or mothers-in-law.”

Additionally, the judge took issue with a statement from the husband’s lawyer suggesting that the disputes could be easily resolved outside of court.

In response, Justice Ramachandran highlighted that an out-of-court settlement could only be considered if the woman was willing to explore this option.

He emphasized the woman’s independence, stating, “She has a mind of her own. Will you tie her up and force mediation? This is exactly why she was forced to leave you. Behave well, be a man.”

The Kerala High Court granted the woman’s request to transfer the divorce proceedings to a court in Thalassery, considering her professional commitments. Additionally, the court allowed her mother-in-law to appear before the court via video conference.