Central and State Governments should endevour to enlighten people to go for pre-marital counseling/ medical examination

Madras High Court: Expressing dismay upon the suffering of the petitioner due to her marriage being conducted without a proper enquiry as to the physical health of the groom, the Bench of N. Kirubakaran, J., observed that it would be prudent for the Central and State Governments to enlighten and sensitize people to go for pre-marital counselling and the same should be promoted by way of short films, advertisements and seminars.

In the present case, the petitioner had moved to the Family Court for annulment of her marriage within 6 months from the date of her marriage. According to the petitioner, the respondent had fraudulently obtained her consent for marriage by hiding that he had a cancerous growth on his left thigh which finally prevented the consummation of their marriage. Further medical investigations revealed that the respondent had a hole in his heart.

Invoking Article 227 of the Constitution and Section 151 of the CPC which bestows the Court with the power to pass appropriate order to meet the ends of justice, the Court was determined to decide the petition on merits, as the parties were very young and in the lengthy court proceedings resulting from transferring the petition to the trial court, the parties would not only lose their precious youth, but will also be rendered with an uncertain future. Perusing the contentions of the parties and the medical records of the respondent, the Court took to task the respondent for suppressing his medical condition from the petitioner. The Court further observed that the shock, pain and agony that the petitioner might have faced upon knowing the medical condition of the respondent, is nothing short of cruelty and her fundamental right to a decent and meaningful life under Article 21 had been grossly violated. The Court also observed that how the society commits crime against women in the name of marriages, thereby maligning the sacred rite of matrimony. The Court stated that the only way the petitioner can be comforted and compensated for her mental agony, is by annulling her marriage with the respondent under Section 13(1)( i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act. However adding a word of comfort for the respondent, the Court said that the respondent’s only fault was to hide his medical condition from his wife, and that he should not be demoralized as scientists have discovered that several types of cancers are curable.  [A v. B,  2016 SCC OnLine Mad 8908, decided on 05.08.2016]

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