Wilful denial of sex without reasonable cause amounts to cruelty, says HC

The Bombay High Court has observed that sexual intercourse plays an important role in marital life and cannot be separated from factors that contribute to a sense of matrimonial satisfaction. The court was hearing a petition filed by a woman against an order passed by the Bandra family court, dissolving their seven-year-old marriage.

The High Court observed that wilful denial of sex without reasonable cause would amount to cruelty and dismissed the appeal.

Mahim-resident Rakesh Kadam had filed for divorce in the Bandra family court on the grounds of cruelty and desertion in 2008. The 32-year-old alleged that his wife Reshma (30) had caused him cruelty by avoiding sexual contact and threatening to commit suicide.

The family court allowed Rakesh's decree of divorce and dissolved the marriage last year. As a result, Reshma's petition for restitution of conjugal rights was dismissed. Aggrieved by the family court's ruling, she moved the Bombay High Court.

Rakesh cited his wife's refusal to have intercourse during their honeymoon among several instances of cruelty. He claimed that she was not interested in getting married with him and therefore disliked him. He said she had tied the knot against her wish and threatened to kill herself by jumping before a train. She even tried to consume sleeping pills in front of his family members, he said.

A division bench of Justice V K Tahilramani and Justice V L Achaliya observed that the grounds and the supporting evidence given by Rakesh were not challenged by Reshma.

While referring to a Supreme Court order, the bench said, "Sex is the foundation of marriage and marriage without sex, is an anathema. Wilful denial of sexual intercourse without reasonable cause would amount to cruelty. A person enjoying normal health being deprived of normal cohabitation by spouse and thus undergoing anguish and frustration could be said to have been subjected to mental cruelty."

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