Dear CJI Sir,
In the very opening, I would like to beg an unconditional pardon if I’m breaking any law which states that it is not just illegal but a non-bailable offence to criticize, or express concern about, any verdict of the judiciary. If not, then I would like to register with you my very strong and bitter opposition to a decision that the judicial system has taken. Supreme Court has ruled out divorce by mutual consent if a Hindu wife is terminally ill
Let’s start with you-the Supreme Court of India-and your latest decision. According to what I read in many of the leading newspapers of this country, a bench of Justice MY Eqbal and Justice C Nagappan not only rejected a by-mutual-consent divorce suite, but also gave a future system as well, that a Hindu husband cannot divorce a terminally ill Hindu wife, even if by mutual consent, in exchange for paying for her treatment.
The premise given was that, as reported by the media, “Hindu marriage is a ‘sacred and holy union’…. To a Hindu wife her husband is her God….”
How do I start to tell you how flabbergasted and insecure it makes me feel, as a Hindu male member of the Indian society? But I think I do need to attempt, since that is the very reason for me writing and you (hopefully) reading this letter.
So, to start, I would like to question the very decision, before the premise and its implications. What exactly- which section, subsection or sentence- or IPC, Indian Constitution, Hindu Marriage Act gives any court-even the Supreme Court- the power to decide a case on anything but the strictest, most technical interpretation of the written law? If the mutual consent is obtained, and that too without breaking any law, in the strictest meaning of the phrase, who gives you a right to reject it?
Coming to the premise next, would the decision have been the same if a Christian, Muslim or an inter-faith couple would’ve petitioned on the identical grounds, and in the identical situation?
Plus, would the decision would’ve been the same if the gender roles were reversed- that the husband was the terminally ill one, and the wife was filing for a divorce by mutual consent? Would any court of this country have forced this wife to stay with her husband, considering him ‘her God’ and selflessly serving him- against her wishes, and by compromising her liberty?
Would you have forced her to have sex with him, or cook food for him, or wash his clothes, or make his home, if she didn’t want to, just because he was terminally ill?
As a Hindu male, this decision has made me very much apprehensive of being married according to the laws of this country. As long as we are not committing a crime, doesn’t democracy, and our supposedly great constitution, grant us a right to make selfish and mean choices as well? Is it a crime now, not wanting to invest my energy, time and life into an unwell spouse- even if I am ready to pay an appropriate settlement/alimony? And if it’s not, why should I be condemned into a life- and a life partner- that I do not want?
As the apex body for upholding the law, I respect the institution of Supreme Court of India very much, and I have been a very happy supporter of your power of interpretation of the laws as well- but only within the limits of law itself!
The Hindu concepts of ‘union beyond this life’ and ‘husband is God’ are very ambiguous, and rightly did not have any standing under the legal scrutiny. I beg you not to change that, lest the courts be filled with lawsuits filled with people demanding marriage to their spouses of previous birth, where they had supposedly ‘promised to be with each other for the next seven lives’; or with cases where husbands would carry out domestic violence, and try to get away saying that those were the ‘Acts of God’!
Once again, as in the very opening, I would like to beg an unconditional pardon if I committed any crime in writing this.
Mrinaal Prem Swarroop Srivastava
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