SC to examine if refusal to acknowledge alleged mental disorder can be ground for divorce

The Supreme Court has decided to examine a critical question of whether a spouse’s refusal to acknowledge alleged mental illness and medical treatment can be grounds for divorce.

The matter was raised in the high court after a Kerala woman currently working in the UK challenged the High Court ruling that allowed her husband to file for divorce for refusing to undergo treatment for alleged paranoid schizophrenia.

Acting on his plea, a bench of Judges Vineet Saran and Aniruddha Bose on Friday issued a notice to the husband and stayed the HC’s September 2, 2021 order.

The woman, through her statement presented by the lawyer Vipin Nair, argued that the High Court at one point in the order said that the woman does not suffer from any type of mental disorder and that there is no material to grant a divorce due to lack of sanity. . Elsewhere, however, the High Court went on to wrongly note that she suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.

It relied on the high court ruling in the case of Kollam Chandra Shekhar vs. Kollam Padma Latha (2014) that a spouse’s medical condition cannot be a reason for granting a divorce decree, even if it results in unusual behavior that is not expected under normal conditions. married life.

In addition, the same High Court chamber had dismissed her husband’s claim for custody rights to their two daughters, on the grounds that she is mentally fit to care for the children, in separate proceedings.

She also noted that the High Court failed to find that she was a trained nurse, working at a number of renowned medical institutions and currently employed in the UK with the National Health Service Scheme.

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Her pleading also stated that she never admitted that she suffered from a mental disorder, so there can be no question of her treating her husband cruelly and consequently the divorce could not have been granted on that ground alone.

The couple was married according to Christian rites and ceremonies on September 1, 2001 in a church. Two daughters were born in 2002 and 2009. After about a decade, the woman left her marital home, as she claimed that her in-laws were hell-bent on getting a statement that she had a mental disorder.

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