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The party seeking a divorce must demonstrate that the other party’s unsoundness of mind is incurable or that the mental disorder is of a nature such that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with his or her spouse in order to obtain a divorce decree under Section 13(1)(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act: Kerala High Court

The party seeking a divorce must demonstrate that the other party’s unsoundness of mind is incurable or that the mental disorder is of a nature such that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with his or her spouse in order to obtain a divorce decree under Section 13(1)(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act is upheld by the Kerala High Court in the case of Devika M. v. Shibin Prakash (OP (FC). No. 157 of 2020) through a Division Bench of A. Muhamed Mustaque and Kauser Edappagath, JJ.

FACTS OF THE CASE

In a divorce case, the wife filed the present petition to challenge the Family Court’s order accepting the husband’s application to form a medical board and directing the wife to appear before it for a mental health examination.

In accordance with Section 13(1)(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, the husband filed for divorce on the grounds of mental insanity. In his submissions, he also stated that the wife’s mental state was abnormal because she had borderline personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The wife objected to the husband’s request for the court to order that the wife undergo a medical examination for borderline personality disorder before a medical board that would be established for that purpose.

JUDGMENT

The High Court declared that the Court has the authority to order the parties to a lawsuit to take a medical test while analysing the facts and circumstances of the cases. A matrimonial court has the authority to order a person to undergo a medical test, and such a direction need not violate any right to personal liberty. The court further cited the Supreme Court decision in Sharda v. Dharmpal, (2003), in which it was held that even though the right to privacy is implicit in the rights to life and liberty guaranteed to the citizens of the country under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, a matrimonial court has the power to make such an order.

The wife’s alleged mental state must be decided in the current case. According to the High Court, in order to obtain a divorce under Section 13(1)(iii) of the HMA, the husband must prove that the wife is either incurably insane or that she has a mental disease of such a nature and severity that she cannot reasonably be expected to remain with her spouse. The issue of whether such action violates Article 21 of the Indian Constitution does not come up when the Family Court orders a party to appear before a medical board to undertake a medical examination.

It was seen that the husband had presented paperwork stating that the wife had had treatment from a psychiatrist for the purported sickness. The lower court read through the aforementioned documents. A prima facie case exists simply by virtue of the fact that the wife’s alleged mental condition is a question that must be resolved in the proceeding.

The Medical Board’s assessment of the wife’s health may be crucial in determining whether to approve or deny the petition for a divorce under Section 13(1)(iii) of the HMA.The above-stated conclusion is applicable under Section 45 of the Evidence Act, the Court further said in its decision.

If a party to a lawsuit asserts that certain facts exist, the court cannot infer their existence unless those facts are proven in accordance with how the Evidence Act is intended to be used. As a result, there was no need for interference with the Family Court’s decision because it was warranted in its ruling.

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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY NISHTHA GARHWAL

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