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Pay for wife’s treatment, then talk divorce: Supreme Court

Supreme Court held that it is a man’s “duty” to take care of the medical needs of his wife and that he cannot obtain divorce from her under a settlement to pay for her treatment.

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The Supreme Court Wednesday held that it is a man’s “duty” to take care of the medical needs of his wife and that he cannot obtain divorce from her under a settlement to pay for her treatment.

The ruling came as the court trashed a compromise deed after noting that the woman agreed for divorce in lieu of the man paying her Rs 12.5 lakh towards full and final settlement since she suffered from breast cancer and required money for her treatment.

“It is a duty of the husband to take care of the health and safety of the wife. It is a primary duty of the husband to provide facilities for her treatment,” said a bench led by Justice M Y Eqbal.

“It is a combination of bone to bone and flesh to flesh. To a Hindu wife, her husband is her God and her life becomes one of the selfless service and profound dedication to her husband. She not only shares the life and love, but the joys and sorrows, the troubles and tribulation of her husband and becomes an integral part of her husband’s life and activities,” the court added.

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Therefore, there cannot be a situation where a man can enter into a contract with his wife to provide for her since he already has a duty to do so, said the court as it rejected the settlement deed.

The bench noted that the woman suffered from breast cancer and was in need of money for her treatment.

“In the present case, by the settlement agreement the husband is promising to do something which he is already duty bound…is not a valid consideration for the settlement,” said the bench, adding that the woman’s consent cannot be said to be free because the man is clearly in a dominating position financially.

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It ordered the man to pay her Rs 5 lakh urgently to enable her treatment and said that the family court would take up the divorce petition only after the woman is cured so that she can decide freely.

First published on: 03-12-2015 at 02:49:37 am
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