Removal of Mangalsutra by wife causes husband mental cruelty: Court
Madras High Court has said that removal of thali (Mangalsutra) by an estranged wife would mean mental cruelty of the highest order for the husband. The Court made these observations while hearing the divorce plea of a husband after a local family court rejected his plea in 2016. Further, the High Court also granted divorce to the aggrieved man following his wife's admission.
A division bench of Justices VM Velumani and S Sounthar heard the petition by C Sivakumar. Following the observation, the court also granted a civil miscellaneous appeal from Sivakumar, who is working as a professor at a medical institution in Erode, Tamil Nadu. He had sought to vacate the local Family Court's rulings of June 15, 2016, which denied him a divorce.
During the hearing, the woman admitted to having removed the 'Mangalsutra.' However, she did clarify that she just removed the chain and not the gold discs tied to it. Her counsel further claimed that the Hindu Marriage Act did not compel her to keep the thali. In response to the argument, the bench observed that tying thali is a common ritual in Indian weddings.
The court stated that "from the materials available 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." It was a well-known truth that no Hindu married woman would remove the thali throughout her husband's lifetime, it said.
Thali of a woman is a sacred thing that symbolizes continuance of marriage and it's removed only after the husband's death, the bench said while referring to its previous rulings. "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," it added.
A division bench of the Bombay High Court declared in 2017 that not wearing Mangalsutra or covering the head with a pallu cannot be used as grounds for divorce. While dismissing the husband's divorce petition, the bench of justices Vasanti Naik and Vinay Deshpande concluded that a man would not be allowed to seek a divorce solely on such grounds in the 21st century.