Patna High Court Asserts Inability to Bear Child Not Grounds for Divorce Under Hindu Marriage Act

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LI Network

Published on: 27 July 2023 at 12:37 IST

The Patna High Court has recently ruled that the inability to conceive a child is neither considered impotence nor a valid reason for seeking a divorce, as highlighted in the case of Sonu Kumar v Rina Devi.

A bench comprising of Justice Jitendra Kumar and Justice PB Bajanthri emphasized that the Hindu Marriage Act does not provide for divorce on the grounds of infertility. The court underlined that being unable to bear a child is a natural aspect of married life, and couples have the option to explore alternatives such as adoption to have children.

The Court rejected a revision plea filed by a man challenging the family court’s decision to dismiss his divorce petition, which was filed under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act.

The family court rejected the husband’s plea for divorce as he failed to substantiate his cruelty allegations against his wife. Among other claims, he accused her of ill-treatment towards his parents and family during her short stay at their marital home.

He further alleged that she refused to cohabit and consummate the marriage, suggesting that her intentions were not to start a family but solely to lose her virginity. The husband also claimed that she had undisclosed meetings with individuals from her village despite objections from family members.

During the proceedings, it was revealed that the wife had health issues and requested financial assistance for treatment, which led to the husband taking her to a doctor. An ultrasonic test confirmed that the wife had a cyst in her uterus, which made conception and motherhood unlikely.

The petitioner-husband, who was in good health and eager to start a family, argued that his wife’s inability to bear children was the reason for seeking a divorce.

However, the Court noted that the divorce petition was filed within two years of marriage, and the couple had lived together for only two months. The ground of desertion under Section 13(1)(b) was not established, as desertion requires a continuous period of two years preceding the petition.

The Court also pointed out that there was insufficient evidence of behavioral misconduct constituting cruelty, except for the wife’s purported refusal to cohabit. However, the husband did not initiate any legal action for restitution of conjugal rights under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, which weakened his claim of refusal to cohabit.

Based on these findings, the Court dismissed the husband’s appeal, affirming the family court’s decision to reject the divorce petition.

Advocate Shyam Sunder Pandey represented Sonu Kumar during the legal proceedings.

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