It is always assumed that men are cruel but aren't a woman. If we see this case one would have a very different view. Santhimeenal and Sivasankaran were married on 7th February 2002 as per Hindu rites and customs. As per the laws of Hindu marriage, it is believed that marriage is a sacrament and an eternal union between two people. In this case, the wife left the marriage hall late at night and went to Pudukkottai. She said that she had been coerced into marrying the husband without her consent. As the marriage was never consummated, Sivasankaran issued a notice on 25th February 2002 seeking a divorce. It is very surprising that Santhimeenal who said that she was coerced into marrying that person filed for restitution of conjugal rights. Lets us now see the events which followed in this marriage which did not last even a day and was granted divorce by the Honourable Supreme Court on grounds of ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage in the exercise of powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India and cruelty under Section 13(1) (i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act.
Irretrievable breakdown of marriage is set to happen when the marriage has completely broken down and there is no possibility of reconciliation. As the Law Commission has duly noted it is such a marriage where the substance has gone out of the shell. This was the case in this marriage. According to Santhimeenal, her husband along with his family were asking for dowry. She did not oblige to it and was taken away by Sivaskaran’s brothers due to which the consummation of the marriage became impossible. Santhimeenal claims that it was her husband who refused to cohabit with her. The event which followed was the divorce case filed by Sivasankaran on 5th March 2003 which was granted after 5 years on 17th March 2008 on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of a marriage.
Sivasankaran then was remarried on 23 March 2008. Santhimeenal then filed for an appeal which was granted in favor of her. The Hon’ble High Court restored the decree of divorce granted by the trial court on 14th September 2018. Fifteen years had passed in this litigation for divorce where the marriage was not even consummated. It was a case in which the marriage had not worked and would not have worked considering the second marriage of Sivasankaran and that they both were living individual lives for almost two decades and are not willing to live together ever. A lot of circumstances in the present case necessitated examining whether there was cruelty or not. It was found that Santhimeenal had filed multiple cases against Sivasankaran which itself amounts to mental cruelty. Santhimeenal also filed a writ petition praying for a writ of mandamus to take disciplinary action against Sivasankaran. She also abused the process of the Right to Information Act by filing multiple RTI’s to seek unnecessary information about Sivasankaran. Sivasankaran was working as Asst. Professor in Department of History in Government Arts College, Kurur. Santhimeenal made representations to the college authorities seeking initiation of disciplinary proceedings against Sivasankaran and it was not confined to even those college authorities, but she made representations even to the Director of Collegiate Education and the Secretary, Department of Higher Education (Tamil Nadu). She sought disciplinary proceedings on account of the second marriage even though the second marriage took place soon after the decree of divorce. Thus, she sought to somehow ensure that he loses his job. Filing of such complaints seeking removal of one’s spouse from a job has been opined as amounting to mental cruelty. She also lodged a criminal complaint against him under Section 494 IPC even though her appeal was pending before the High Court. She even accused the persons who had attended the second marriage. The High Court quashed the criminal proceedings by an order dated 18th February 2019. Santhimeenal further harassed Sivaskaran even at the place of work by insulting him in front of students and professors, threatened him with physical harm in front of his colleagues, and complained to his employer threatening to file a criminal complaint against him.
The moot point, in this case, is that the marriage has not taken off from its inception. There cannot be any ‘wear and tear of marriage’ as they never lived together even for a day. The Honorable Supreme Court exercised its jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution to dissolve the marriage between the parties by giving a decree of divorce not only on account of irretrievable breakdown of marriage in the absence of consent of the parties, but also on account of cruelty under Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Act.