Divorce by Mutual Consent Cannot be Granted When Wife Suffers Terminal Illness: Supreme Court

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The Apex Court held that divorce by mutual consent cannot be ordered to a couple where the wife is terminally ill. The Court also observed that Hindu wife treats her husband equal to God and expects his presence when she is in difficult situations. The Court ruled on Thursday that the petition for divorce can be considered only after the recovery of the wife from her illness. The bench was headed by Justcie M Y Eqbal who declined to allow the plea raised by the husband. Though the wife had consented for divorce, the Court was informed that she is a cancer patient and needs advanced medical care immediately.

The bench further stated that according to Hindu mythology, marriage is a sacred ceremony where the holy union of the couple takes place. Here the wife is transplanted to the husband’s house and there she will have a new life. A Hindu wife dedicates her entire life after marriage rendering services to her husband. She becomes an important part in the life of husband and his family.  In the case before the court, the husband was ready to pay 12.5 lakhs to his wife as maintenance and the wife had agreed for divorce. The court found that the wife might have consented due to the urgency for money for treatment and directed the husband to pay 5 lakhs immediately. The Court also said that the case will be dealt with only after she recovers.

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It was stated that there is a corresponding duty on the husband to take care of the wife in all calamities. He have to look after her health and safety as well in addition to food and clothing, the court said. The court said that the case will be taken up by the Hyderabad Family Court after the wife is completely cured or within six months whichever comes first. Thereafter the parties will have to file a fresh petition under Section 13B for divorce by mutual consent.

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Adv. Jewel Panicker