July 23, 2022
“A good wife is one who serves her husband in the morning like a mother does, loves him in the day like a sister does and pleases him like a prostitute in the night.” – Chanakya (375-283 BC), an ancient Indian polymath who was active in Pataliputhra as a teacher, author, philosopher, jurist and royal advisor.
The role of wives has changed over the centuries and now they are also expected to be financiers for their husbands and their families as surfaced in a case decided in the Karnataka High Court recently and widely covered in the media. But, first the facts.
Karnataka HC says treating wife like cash cow tantamount to harassment
Bengaluru: The Karnataka high court recently granted divorce to a Bengaluru woman, holding that her husband had treated her like a cash cow and had no emotional attachment towards her and that these alone were sufficient grounds for cruelty. The woman had challenged the June 22, 2020, order of the family court, Bengaluru Rural district, wherein her application seeking dissolution of marriage on ground of cruelty was dismissed, despite the same being heard and decided ex-parte. Allowing the appeal filed by the woman, a division bench noted that the statement of accounts placed by the appellant shows that transactions amounting to Rs 60 lakh in all have been made in favour of the husband.
"If the examination in chief of the appellant (wife) is read in its entirety, it is evident that the respondent (husband) has treated the appellant as a cash cow and had a materialistic attitude towards her. The respondent had no emotional ties with the appellant. The attitude of the respondent in itself has caused mental agony and emotional trauma to the appellant which are sufficient to make out a ground of mental cruelty," the bench noted in its order.
Citing several judgements of the Supreme Court, the division bench said that the top court has held that the question of cruelty as ground for divorce has to be determined on the basis of facts and circumstances of each case. Furthermore, the lower court has not done cross examination of the petitioner wife and recorded her statements, the bench said. The family court had held that except for financial transactions, the wife failed to prove grounds for cruelty. It also observed that she could not prove that her husband had harassed her mentally.
The couple got married on May 17, 1999, at Chikkamagaluru and had a baby in 2001. On June 8, 2017, the woman filed a petition under section 10 of the Divorce Act.
In her appeal before the high court, the woman reiterated that she had spent approximately Rs 60 lakh on her husband and his family and has been living away from her daughter. She further pleaded that her husband had failed to take care of her, and she, in fact, had taken care of his many failed business ventures, loans as well as debts of his family. According to her, there were financial issues in the husband's family, which led to frequent fights and arguments.
As her husband was unable to take care of his and her financial needs, she decided to work. In October 2008, she moved to the UAE and started working in Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank. She began clearing the debts of her husband's family and also brought some agricultural land in his name.
In 2012, she realized her husband and his family were draining her financially and emotionally. She sought a divorce which he flatly refused. Giving her marriage another chance, she took him to UAE and set up a salon for him with an investor visa. In 2013, he said he wanted to return to India. In 2017, she filed a divorce petition in the family court.
It may be apt to conclude with Socrates (469-399 BC) – as ancient as Chanakya with whom we started – Greek philosopher from Athens: “By all means marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you will become a philosopher.”
The subject is open to many views. What are yours? Your response is invited in the format given below (Pl stroll down a bit). Once again, welcome to reason.