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Removal Of Mangalsutra By Wife Reflects Mental Cruelty Of Highest Order: Madras High Court

The removal of Mangalsutra (thali) by a wife would reflect "mental cruelty of the highest order" on the husband, said the Madras High Court and granted divorce to a grieving man.

The appeal was recently made by a man named C Sivakumar, who is a professor in a medical college in Erode. Justices VM Velumani and S Sounthar were part of this division bench and on hearing the petition, the court was moved by the husband's divorce plea, which was rejected on 15 June 2016 by a local family court, mentioned a PTI report. After the observances, the court also granted a civil miscellaneous appeal from Shivakumar.

Mangalsutra is an "auspicious thread," that is tied around a Hindu bride's neck during the wedding ceremony, a symbol that the couple is bound in matrimony and an indication of the bride's new status as a married woman.

While the hearing was ongoing, the woman admitted that at the time of separation, she had removed the Mangalsutra, but she clarified that she removed the chain but not the gold discs tied to it. Further, her counsel referred to Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act and pointed out that the tying of thali is not a compulsion and doesn't impact the marital tie in any manner.

But the bench observed and pointed out that it is an essential ritual in Hindu marriage ceremonies, in response to the argument.

The court stated that the materials are available on the record and that the wife has admitted to removing the thali and putting it in a bank locker. Further, it mentioned that a Hindu woman won't remove the thali at any point throughout the lifetime of her husband, mentions the same PTI report.

The bench said, 'Thali around the neck of a woman was a sacred thing which symbolises the continuance of married life and it is removed only after the death of the husband. Therefore, its removal by the petitioner/wife can be said to be an act which reflected mental cruelty of the highest order as it could have caused agony and hurt the sentiments of the respondent.'

Further, arguing on the same lines, it said, this behaviour can be treated as an unceremonious 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 stated.

The woman has also alleged that the the man had extra marital affairs with his women colleagues in the presence of co-workers, students as well as before the police. Regarding this, the bench has said that they are absolutely sure that the wife was responsible for the mental cruelty against the husband by making false allegations and doubting his character. Adding to it, the court has also mentioned that only after the demise of husband, Mangalsutra can be removed. 6

Story first published: Friday, July 15, 2022, 17:19 [IST]
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