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Wife can leave husband for lover, says court
April 19, 2007 18:30 IST
A woman cannot be compelled to live with her husband against her wish if she chooses to stay with her lover, the Rajasthan High Court has implied in a verdict, which has triggered intense debate.
"We see no reasons why she should be compelled to live with her husband," a bench comprising Justices Gyan Sudha Misra and K C Sharma ruled on a habeas corpus petition filed by a husband alleging that his wife had been abducted by another man.
However, during the hearing it became evident that the wife had wilfully left the matrimonial home to live with her lover.
Taking her statement on record, the court said a case of habeas corpus of illegal detention could not be made out.
"This is certainly not a case for issuance of a writ of habeas corpus since the basic ingredient of illegal detention of the detenue (wife) is missing in the petition," the bench said.
Sahab Singh had filed the petition alleging that his wife Manju Singh was abducted by one Suresh.
However, the wife had said she was having a liking for Suresh even before the marriage and she had no way out but to elope with him.
The recent judgment has evoked reactions with legal experts saying that there was nothing illegal on the part of the woman to choose the man with whom she wants to live.
"I see the verdict very important, interesting and good. It has recognised the autonomy of women in her decision making process," advocate Indira Jaising said, adding that no one can compel anyone to live with anyone.
Advocate Sunil Mittal, Mukta Gupta, Kamini Jaiswal also shared the view with Jaising and said a case of habeas corpus could not be made out against the other man if the wife wilfully leaves the husband to live with her lover. They said in such cases, the husband has a remedy to go for divorce.
Mittal and Jaiswal opined that the husband could seek divorce on the grounds of adultery and restitution of conjugal rights. Jaisingh and Gupta said a husband canot raise a ground of adultery against his wife.
"A husband has a remedy under section 497 of the IPC against the other man," Gupta said.
All of them said in the instant case it was a wilful decision of the wife, who was a major, to stay with the lover so a case of illegal or forced detention against the other man could not be made out.