Delhi High Court has given a verdict which says “denial of sex to a spouse itself amounts to causing mental cruelty”. If the prolonged denial is without any justified reason or “physical disability”, then it can be a ground for divorce.
The verdict is a result of the petition by a husband seeking divorce as his wife denied conjugal relation for four and half years, “without any justification”. The verdict does set both of them free of the marital bonds and yet assail the choice of having or not any physical intimacy.
Every individual is different in their own way. While for some, marriage is just emotional and spiritual bond and for some, it also has physical derivations from it. So the law allows both kinds to live on their terms without breaching anyone’s boundaries.
However, one must also look at the flip side of the coin, which in many ways can be misused.
The idea of denial of sex being a ground of divorce, in many ways promotes marital rape. Already Indian Penal Code section 375 doesn’t recognize marital rape when the wife is above the age of 15 years. This law will now add fuel to the fire. How?
The answer to this lies in typical Indian societal mentality which still sees divorce as a taboo. A lady, in order to save the honor of family and the “shame” of being called a divorcee, will coerce herself to subsume to the desires, unwillingly. So that he doesn’t suffer from “mental cruelty”. This might relieve the husband, but rip off the human rights of the lady.
The law says “without any justification or physical disability”. But can someone tell me what about the mental and emotional imbalance? If it’s a “mental cruelty” on one then why is not other’s psychological aspect considered? Moreover, who is to decide what is justified and what is not? The term “justifications”, is extremely subjective and broad.
Sex is surely a basic human need and depriving someone of it, can have serious psychological implications. For a major section of people the physical need is necessary. But you cannot force it on someone as well.