Mumbai, Aug 8: Holding that marriage ‘‘is a union of two souls that cannot be allowed to be severed on grounds which seem to be ordinary wear and tear of matrimonial life’’, a division bench of the Bombay High Court has ordered a couple who had been living separately for the last 10 years to get back together. They were granted divorce in 2006 by a family court on grounds of cruelty and desertion by the wife.
The couple — Deepika and Parag Surwe — got married in 1994 and lived in Vile Parle until Deepika left her matrimonial home in 1998. They have a 10-year-old daughter, Sonali, who lives with the mother.
Before hearing the case, the judges had interviewed the couple in their chamber. While Deepika said she was keen to live with Parag even after all these years of separation, the husband refused to get back together, saying he had ‘‘suffered a lot’’.
Deepika was an engineering student at the time of marriage. She even held a job for a while until she conceived in 1996. According to Parag, things soon turned sour between them and Deepika deserted him in July 1998. He filed for divorce in 2000 citing specific incidents from the marriage to argue that Deepika had been ‘‘cruel’’ to him.
Parag had told the family court that in the four days prior to leaving his house in July 1998, Deepika had ‘‘behaved very strangely’’ and threatened him with a harassment case under section 498-A. ‘‘She also threatened that she would commit suicide and see to it that I was put behind bars,’’ Parag said.
He added that once after a quarrel Deepika took ‘‘some tablets’’ and did not wake up in the morning which ‘‘panicked the whole family’’. Apart from that, he said she had ‘‘created a scene and humiliated him’’ at a family wedding in Alibaug in 1998 when, in the presence of relatives, she said he was incapable of looking after Sonali.
The high court, however, reversed the divorce decree while acting on Deepika’s appeal against it. It said it had not found any evidence to substantiate Parag’s claims that Deepika had taken tablets or threatened him with criminal cases.
‘‘Even the Alibaug incident cannot be treated as a cause for cruelty. Such remarks are common in the life of every husband and wife. If they are treated as grounds for cruelty, no marriage will last,’’ observed Justices B H Marlapalle and D B Bhosale.
On the point of desertion, the high court said Parag had been unable to show what ‘‘honest and genuine efforts’’ he himself had made to bring Deepika back home. He had not given any details of calls made to Deepika or the efforts he made to see his daughter. Parag had not even filed a petition for restitution of conjugal rights, the judges said. ‘‘On the other hand, Deepika has said that all throughout she was waiting for Parag to take her back,’’ they observed.
The high court said even after 10 years of separation and a divorce decree from a lower court, the marriage had not broken down irretrievably and it was still possible for the couple to come together and lead a happy life. The court also cautioned that in such cases, ‘‘the door of cruelty cannot be opened so wide, otherwise divorce will have to be granted in every case for incompatibility of temperament’’.
(Names of the couple have been changed to protect their identity)