Refusal by wife to wear sakha and sindoor signifies refusal to accept marriage: Gauhati HC

Published: June 30,2020 08:17 AM

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June 30, 2020: The Gauhati High Court (HC) has observed that a Hindu married woman’s refusal to wear sakha and sindoor signifies her refusal to accept her marriage to the husband.

June 30, 2020: While allowing a man to divorce his wife, the Gauhati high court (HC) has observed that a Hindu married woman’s refusal to wear sakha – bangles made of conch-shell – and sindoor (vermillion), as per the marriage rituals and customs, signifies her refusal to accept her marriage to the husband.

In his plea for separation, the man had said he felt harassed because his wife refused to follow customary rituals of a Hindu wedding and preferred to project herself as an unmarried woman.

A two-member of the HC, comprising Chief Justice Ajai Lamba and Justice Soumitra Saikia, said the woman’s steadfast refusal to wear sakha and sindoor denotes her unwillingness to be considered married to her husband.

“Under the custom of Hindu Marriage, a lady who has entered into marriage according to Hindu rituals and customs, and which has not been denied by the respondent in her evidence, her refusal to wear ‘sakha and sindoor’ will project her to be unmarried,” the bench held.

“Such categorical stand of the respondent (wife) points to the clear intention of the respondent that she is unwilling to continue her conjugal life with the appellant,” said the court, pointing to the wife’s statement before the trial court where she accepted not wearing sindoor or sakha.

“Under such circumstances, compelling the husband to continue to be in matrimony with the wife may be construed to be harassment,” the HC held in its June 19 order.

Earlier, a family court in Assam had rejected the husband’s plea for divorce on the grounds that the wife is not found to have inflicted any cruelty against the complainant.

However, the HC observed that the husband had alleged before the lower court that the wife refused to wear sakha and sindoor, a contention that has not been disputed by her. 

The marriage between the couple was solemnised in February 2012.

However, a month after the marriage, the wife wanted a separate accommodation for the couple, as she did not wish to live in a joint family.

The husband alleged that their conjugal relationship worsened because of her demand to live like a nuclear family, which led to frequent quarrels and his wife also failed to conceive a child.

She left her husband’s home in 2013 and filed a case against him and his family members under Section 498A (husband or his relative subjecting a married woman to cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Though the husband and his relatives were acquitted in the case by HC, he filed a separate divorce plea, citing cruelty by his wife.

She contested the plea alleging harassment by her husband and in-laws for dowry. She also alleged that she was denied food and medical treatment and it was left to her brother to take care of her basic necessities. But, the HC overturned the family court’s decision.

“The allegation of subjecting the wife to cruelty was not sustained. Such acts of lodging criminal cases on unsubstantiated allegations against the husband and/or the husband’s family members amounts to cruelty,” the HC order said.