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A recent judgment says separating a man from parents is cruelty. How can the law support this bias that married women who leave their parental homes are only following a ‘natural’ course?
The case of Narendra vs. K. Meena, that was heard by the Supreme Court yesterday, is of great interest to all. The bench presided by Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice L. Nageswara Rao passed the judgment that forcing a man to separate from his parents amounted to an act of cruelty.
While in this particular case, there were allegations made that the wife threatened the husband and harassed him, one needs to look at what the Bench had to say with respect to the separation of a man from his parents.
“In normal circumstances, a wife is expected to be with the family of the husband after the marriage. She becomes integral to and forms part of the family of the husband and normally without any justifiable strong reason; she would never insist that her husband should get separated from the family and live only with her…. If a wife makes an attempt to deviate from the normal practice and normal custom of the society, she must have some justifiable reason for that and in this case, we do not find any justifiable reason, except monetary consideration of the Respondent wife. In our opinion, normally, no husband would tolerate this and no son would like to be separated from his old parents and other family members, who are also dependent upon his income.”
By stating this, the apex institution has in fact granted a stamp of approval to the age old custom of woman leaving her house and joining the man’s family. That this is what was considered “normal” and that it would infact be unreasonable for her to want a separation.
What stings the most is the fact that they presume that men would not like to leave their families but that it was completely okay for women to do so.
The wording of their statements proves that it has always been taken for granted that the woman should leave her own home and parents behind but that would never be called ‘cruelty’. It is very startling that the highest court in the nation would say this.
Can we (reasonably) expect that the law should always be free from such bias?
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