Refusing to consummate marriage, denying intimacy is mental cruelty: MP High Court

The Madhya Pradesh court, in essence, implied a woman needed disability or 'valid reason' to deny physical relations with her husband

Representative image of judge's gavel (photo: IANS)
Representative image of judge's gavel (photo: IANS)


Refusal to consummate marriage and denial of physical intimacy amounts to mental cruelty and is a valid ground for divorce, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has held.

A division bench of justices Sheel Nagu and Vinay Saraf on 3 January granted divorce to a man on the ground that his wife had refused to consummate the marriage and had not allowed physical intimacy since their wedding in 2006.

'"The non-consummation of marriage and denial of physical intimacy amounts to mental cruelty,' the High Court said in its order.

As per the appeal filed by the man, the couple married in July 2006. However, his wife refused to cohabit with him and consummate the marriage as she claimed that she was forced into the marriage.

The woman allegedly told the man that she was in love with someone else and requested the man to unite them.

The man said he left for the US for work the same month, and in September, the woman went to live with her family and never returned.

In 2011, the man filed an application before a family court in Bhopal seeking divorce. In 2014, the family court rejected the plea. The man then filed an appeal in the high court.

The high court, in its order, noted that on several occasions, the woman had refused to consummate the marriage or have physical relations with her husband.

'We understand that unilateral refusal to have sexual intercourse for a considerable period without any physical incapacity or valid reason can amount to mental cruelty,' the bench said.

While quashing the family court order, the high court said the lower court had wrongly held that failure on the part of the wife to consummate the marriage cannot be a ground for divorce.

'The appellant solemnised the marriage. It was already decided that he would leave India in a short period. During this period, the appellant was hopeful to consummate the marriage but the same was denied by the respondent and certainly the said act of the respondent amounts to mental cruelty,' HC said.

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