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Wife Staying Abroad For Career Not ‘Cruelty’ To Husband Or ‘Desertion Of Spouse’ : Bombay High Court

Observing that the wife’s decision to remain in Canada, where she settled with the couple’s son is not “unjustified” or “selfish,” the Bombay High Court refused to grant a divorce to a 44-year-old engineer alleging cruelty and desertion following his spouse’s refusal to join him in India. The court reproduced the woman’s resume, details of her flourishing career with a pharmaceutical company in Canada to note that the husband could rejoin his wife, especially since it was his idea to settle in Canada for better prospects in the first place. A division bench of Justices Ujjal Bhuyan and Prithviraj Chavan thus refused to entertain the husband’s appeal against a Family Court’s order dismissing his petition for divorce under section 13 (1)(ia) (cruelty) and 13(1)(ib) (desertion) of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955. “This being the status of the respondent (wife), it would not be justified, in any way, expecting her to return to this country when she is already well settled over there…The desire of the respondent(wife) to settle in Canada is actuated by the fact that it was the appellant (husband) who had first consciously decided to settle in the foreign country. As such, the wish of the respondent cannot be branded as an act of selfishness or the act on her part cannot be said to be unjustified. Thus, in no way, it could be said to be cruelty meted out to the appellant by the deserting spouse,” the bench said in its order. The bench further noted that while the husband had cited his ill health for not joining his wife back in Canada, he failed to provide any medical certificates to ratify his claims. Finally, the court cited the judgment of Samar Ghosh Vs. Jaya Ghosh, to observe that the couple’s relationship hadn’t deteriorated to such an extent that it would be impossible for them to unite. “We hope that there is still scope for the couple to restore the bond at least for the sake of their child..,” the bench observed.

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