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Mental illness by itself cannot warrant decree of divorce

Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court has refused to grant a decree of divorce to a woman on the ground that her husband was suffering from schizophrenia 
Bombay-High-Court-Mumbai-1Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has refused to grant a decree of divorce to a woman on the ground that her husband was suffering from schizophrenia and had beat her a couple of times after marriage.

“Mental disorder of a husband even if proved, cannot, by itself, warrant a decree of divorce and it must be further proved that it is of such a nature as the wife could not be expected to live with the husband,” said Justices V L Achliya and Vijaya Tahilramani in a judgement delivered on January 21.

The Court dismissed the appeal filed by the wife against a Mumbai family court order of June 6 last year rejecting her plea for divorce on the ground of cruelty as her husband was allegedly suffering from mental illness.

“Inability to manage his or her affairs is an essential attribute of an incurably unsound mind. The facts pleaded and the evidence placed on record produced by the appellant (wife) in this case, does not establish such inability as a ground on which dissolution of marriage was sought by her before the trial Court,” said the Judges.

“It is thus clear that the respondent (husband), even if he did suffer from schizophrenia, it was not to such an extent as to make living together impossible,” the judges observed.

Merely branding a spouse as a schizophrenic is not sufficient. The degree of mental disorder of the spouse must be proved to be such that other spouse cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her, the court opined.

Quoting a Supreme Court Judgement, the bench said the degree of mental disorder must be proved. It must be such that the petitioning spouse cannot reasonably be expected to live with the other.

All mental abnormalities are not recognized as grounds for grant of decree. If the mere existence of any degree of mental abnormality could justify dissolution of a marriage, few marriages would, indeed, survive in law, the Judges observed.

Not all schizophrenics are characterized by the same intensity of the disease. The mere branding of a person as schizophrenic, therefore, will not suffice, the Judges remarked.

PTI

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