Divorce rate in India is just about 1%. Surely, that doesn’t mean all other couples are living in paradise. If one accounts for the number of couples officially separated in India without legal divorce, the revelation can be beyond shocking.
Are Family Courts Battleground To Settle Egos?
A couple who was married for just 20 days, was granted divorce after 20-years of court battle. Don’t be shocked because these are not exceptional cases and our courts are flooded with these endless litigations.
Commenting on the slow justice delivery system in India, Dharmesh Sharma, the principal judge of the family court in Delhi said,
It casts a very sickening feeling in my mind.
The judge blamed both the parties as well as their lawyers, however, attributed the delay to the legal system in our country which has been overburdened at every front. The civil, as well as criminal courts in India, have millions of cases pending, and this case proves that we are in no way close to the idea of fast track courts.
53-year-old Thirumoorthy Ramakrishnan and 49-year-old Subhashini Bala Subramanian got married in 1998. However, the couple separated after 20 days of their married life together – after the wife got arrested in a case of fraud – that she maintained she was wrongly accused of.
Husband filed for divorce on grounds of ‘cruelty’ after suffering immense stress on learning of his wife’s fraud case. The wife was arrested from Ooty, where the newlywed couple had gone to visit temples.
The wife accused her husband of ‘abandoning’ her and leaving her to fend for herself and their daughter on her own. Incidentally, it was on the last day of her remand after she was brought to Delhi for her trial, when she told her husband that she was carrying their child.
The man moved court, seeking dissolution of marriage on the grounds that following the arrest of his wife, he was interrogated by the police on a number of occasions. As a part of the legal battle that ensued, enquiries made at the workplace of the husband which resulted in ‘deep mental and physical cruelty’ for him. Apparently, he also told the court that the woman kept her professional qualifications and other essential details hidden from him, only aggravating his tension.
The court granted divorce in the year 2017, saying that the arrest, detention and criminal prosecution of the wife, whether innocent or not of the charges, so early into their marriage caused the husband exceptional hardship and was inflicted with intolerable mental cruelty. Judge Sharma quoted:
Unfortunate as it may look, this case is coming up for the final decision after nineteen years of its institution initially before the family court. Most unfortunate aspect of this case is that the parties cohabited hardly for about 20 days before calamity struck the newly married bride, having pernicious repercussions on the mindset of her husband. The marriage has irretrievably broken down despite the fact the parties are quite educated and hail from an affluent class of the society, and I only wish they should have settled their differences in an amicable manner instead of suffering the agony of a protracted matrimonial litigation.
Thirumoorthy Ramakrishnan’s advocate Saurabh Chauhan said that if the case had been sorted in a normal time span of 1-2 years, he would have re-married. However, the delay in decisions from the court have left everyone in a very tough situation. Chauhan quoted:
Protracted legal battles in our system end up spoiling a person’s life. A marriage going bad is an accident. It can happen to anyone.
The man has reportedly shifted abroad, while his ex-wife works as an accountant here. Their daughter passed Class 12 with 94 per cent.
Matter Not Over
Anil Sharma, counsel for the wife, told that they have moved the high court in appeal. Speaking back in 2017 to India Today, he said,
The charges levelled by the husband on my client also amount to cruelty. The husband abandoned the wife and daughter when they required him the most. He also never took care of the daughter’s expenses. The woman has brought up the girl singlehandedly.
One of the main reasons, for couples being trapped in loveless and unhappy marriages in India, is the absolute failure of family courts to deliver justice or verdict within a stipulated time. Often contested divorces may take a minimum two decades to reach Supreme Court, by when the couples have grown old and have very less opportunity to rebuild their personal life again. While judiciary often blames this on the unimaginable number of cases per judge at each level, there has been no change in redundant 20th Century laws whatsoever. There were many hopes from the Modi government, however, we have failed to see any action on this front in past 7-years of governance.