Kerala High Court: Non-Consensual Sexual Acts Equate to Mental, Physical Cruelty, Grants Divorce

LI Network

Published on: January 4, 2024 at 10:40 IST

The Kerala High Court has affirmed that subjecting a wife to sexual perversions against her consent constitutes both physical and mental cruelty.

It clarified that while consenting adults are free to engage in sexual activities of their choice, any forced or non-consensual act leading to agony or misery for a spouse amounts to cruelty, justifying divorce.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Amit Rawal and Justice C S Sudha issued this ruling in two matrimonial appeals where the appellant-wife accused her husband of cruelty and desertion.

Initially, the appellant sought divorce citing cruelty and desertion in 2014, countered by the husband filing for conjugal rights’ restitution in 2017. The Family Court dismissed the divorce plea but allowed restitution, leading the appellant to approach the High Court.

The case outlined that shortly after marriage in 2009, the husband moved abroad for employment, allegedly subjecting the wife to physical and mental harassment during their short cohabitation. Allegations included sexual perversions and physical assaults for non-compliance. Upon the husband’s departure, the in-laws purportedly expelled the wife, who claimed no support or contact from the husband until she sought legal action.

While the husband denied all accusations and sought restitution of conjugal rights, the High Court acknowledged the serious nature of the wife’s allegations. It took issue with inappropriate cross-examination regarding sexual matters, citing legal precedents and the Evidence Act’s provisions against such indecent questioning.

The Court observed that the appellant’s failure to detail sexual perversions in earlier petitions didn’t weaken her claim. It found merit in the appellant’s claim that the husband’s sexual acts were non-consensual, leading to her agony and misery, constituting both physical and mental cruelty.

Despite insufficient evidence for desertion, the Court granted divorce, considering the wife’s suffering due to sexual perversions. The matrimonial appeals were allowed, leading to the dissolution of the marriage.

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