The removal of ‘thali’ (mangalsutra) by an estranged wife would constitute to mental cruelty of the highest degree, according to the Madras High Court, which granted divorce to the aggrieved man.
A division bench of Justices V M Velumani and S Sounthar made the statement recently while hearing a civil miscellaneous appeal from C Sivakumar, who works as a lecturer in a medical college in Erode. He sought to vacate the local Family Court’s rulings of June 15, 2016, which denied him divorce.
When the woman was interrogated, she admitted removing her thali chain at the moment of separation (sacred chain worn by the wife as a token of having married).
By citing Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act, her lawyer argued that thali tying is not required and that, even if it were true, the wife’s removal of the thali would not have any effect on the marital bond.However, it is generally known that tying of thali is an important tradition in marriage rituals in this region of the world, as the bench pointed out.
The court further referenced the decisions of a High Court division bench, which noted that “from the evidence on record, it is also seen that the petitioner has removed the thali and it is also her own admission that she had kept the same in a bank locker.”
The court stated that it was a well-known fact that no Hindu married woman would remove the thali at any moment throughout her husband’s lifetime.
Using the same yardstick, the present bench stated that the removal of the thali chain is frequently regarded as an immoral act.
“We don’t say for a moment that removal of thali chain per se is sufficient to put an end to the marital knot, but the said act of the respondent (wife) is a piece of evidence in drawing an inference about the intentions of the parties. The act of the respondent in removing the thali chain at the time of separation coupled with various other evidences available on record, compel us to come to a definite conclusion that the parties have no intention to reconcile and continue the marital knot.”
The bench noted that she had made accusations of extramarital affairs against the man with his female colleagues in front of colleagues, students, and the police.
In light of the Supreme Court and High Court verdicts, the judges stated that they had no hesitation in concluding that the wife committed mental cruelty to the husband by questioning his character and fabricating false charges of extramarital affairs in the presence of others.
“We are given to understand that the appellant and his wife are living separately from 2011 onwards and there is no evidence on record to show that the wife has made any attempt for reunion during this period. Hence in the facts and circumstances of the case and also in view of our finding that the wife by her act caused mental cruelty to the husband, we propose to put a full stop to the marital tie by granting decree dissolving the marriage between the petitioner and the respondent (wife) that took place in November, 2008.”
The bench overturned the lower court’s decision and granted the petitioner divorce.