India still has one of the lowest divorce rates in the world, but marriage breakdowns are becoming more common. Experts say most cases of divorce in India are filed on the grounds of abuse, or what’s legally termed as “cruelty”. But what amounts to abuse has long been open to debate, especially when determining whether psychological trauma has been afflicted on a person during marriage.
Because of its wide legal definition, Indian courts have had to rule on a host of bizarre interpretations of what constitutes non-physical abuse. BBC’s Atish Patel shares a few of the more unlikely examples.
1. My wife parties too much
A Bombay high court overturned a family court ruling from 2011 that granted divorce to a sailor who claimed his wife’s regular partying, among other things, was a form of abuse. The judge ruled that socialising to some extent in the present society is permissible
2. She is a sex machine
A sexless marriage is a common trigger for divorce globally. But last year, a man in Mumbai wanted to divorce his wife because she had too much sex
In his petition, the man described his wife as having an “excessive and insatiable appetite for sex” ever since their marriage in April 2012, according to a report by the Press Trust of India news agency.
3. She wears trousers
In another case, a man sought a divorce from his wife on the grounds of cruelty in part because of her dress sense saying that the wife would wear shirts and trousers to her workplace instead of traditional Indian clothing. A family court passed a divorce order three years ago, but in March last year, the Bombay high court overturned it.
4. Too much acne on her face
In another instance a man filed for divorce complaining that he was traumatised by his wife’s acne problem. The couple that had an arranged marriage divorced later with the court ruling in favour of her husband.
5. ‘Hostile hospitality’
Going back even further, in 1985 the Allahabad high court in an appeal hearing upheld a lower court’s decision that the refusal by his wife to make tea for her husband’s friends had left him humiliated and along with other factors, amounted to mental abuse and acceptable grounds for divorce.
-Cartoons by BBC Hindi’s Kirtish Bhatt