This case is about a matrimonial suit. It has lately been in the eyes of media because of the judgement that was delivered by the honourable Guwahati High Court.
Facts and timeline of the events of the case:
Shri Bhaskar Das is a contractual labourer in Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Limited at Madhuban. He lives with his mother, sister and brother in Digboi. His marriage was solemnized on 17th of February 2012 with Smti. Renu Das. After the marriage, Smti Renu Das started to live with her husband Shri Bhaskar Das in the later's house along with other family members. However, after a month of marriage, Renu wanted to live in a separate house with her husband away from Bhaskar's family members. But Bhaskar was unable to sustain the expenses of two separate accommodations. Being unable to fulfil his wife wish, the aftermath of the situation became very unpleasant. There were always commotion and conflict in the house. The atmosphere in the house became appalling for other family members too. On seeing such unpleasant condition, Bhaskar decided to live separately with her wife Renu at his workplace in Madhuban. But the wife continued the conflict, blaming Bhaskar that for him the couple was not being able to have a child after marriage. In the meantime, Bhaskar's contract at his workplace was over, and they had to return in Digboi. Renu continued to be negligent to Bhaskar's family members.
On June 2013, she decided to end the marriage. However, Bhaskar's family members tried to convince her. And as a consequence of it, she decided to go to her paternal home and assured that she will return within one week. But instead she filed a case under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code. Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code states that whoever being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. As it is a punishable offence, Bhaskar and his family members were compelled to apply for a pre-arrest bail. Later on, Bhaskar applied for divorce before the District Court in Dibrugarh. He stated in a written statement that he was unable to bear the agony of living separately with his wife away from family members and maintain no relationship with them. He also stated that around June his wife Renu as a form of denying the marriage refused to wear Sakha and sindoor and also she went to her paternal house by saying that she will return within one week but instead she filed a case.
The wife contested the case statement in a written statement that she was subjected to cruelty by Bhaskar's stepmother and other family members, she was also not provided with proper foods and medicines. She also stated that she was thrown out of her husband's house on the 30th of June 2012. She further stated that her husband was impotent so she was unable to conceive. After looking into the matter, the Family Court rejected the prayers of Bhaskar stating that there were no such proper ground on which a decree of divorce could be granted. Being unhappy with the judgement passed by the District Court, Bhaskar appealed in the High Court on the basis of judgement that was delivered on 15th of December 2018 in the Title Suit (M) 9/2014 in the District Court Dibrugarh.
On 19th of June 2020, honourable Chief Justice Mr Ajai Lama and honourable Justice Mr Soumitra Salkia gave the verdict. The Court decided that the judgement that was given by the District Judge on 15th of December 2018 will be set aside and a decree of divorce will be granted. The Court held that the wife kept his husband away from his parent and family member which is a form of cruelty. According to the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007, every children including son mandatorily needs to look after the parent. Section 2(d) of this Act includes stepmother also as a parent. So keeping a son away from his parent is also a cruelty. The court also observed that in this case, Bhaskar stated that her wife Renu refused to wear Sakha and sindoor as a form of denying the marriage. As this marriage was done in the form of the Hindu marriage system some traditions and customs were required to be followed. According to the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, Hindu Marriage is both a holy sacrament and a contract. It is the amalgamation of both tradition, rituals and some legal rules. In Hindu tradition a married woman is observed to wear vermilion i.e. sindoor on her head and wear Sakha. In this particular case, it was observed that Renu didn't wear Sakha and sindoor as a form of refusing the marriage. Even she did not deny the allegations that were made by his husband as false. So in such a situation where a woman is not wearing Sakha and sindoor in a form of denying the marriage, it will be a mental trauma on the part of the husband if the marriage is said to be continued.
Conclusion: A lot of discussion and controversy happened as wearing of sankha and sindoor was not mandatory. The Court stated that this judgement is for this particular case and it is not a blanket of judgement. For this case, the issue of Sanka and sindoor were important but it is not a direction for others. And it also not makes it anywhere mandatory to wear Sakha and sindoor. This judgement is only for this case and it is not to be used as a precedent for other matrimonial suits.