Setting aside a family court's order denying grant of divorce to a man, the Delhi High Court recently clarified that expecting a wife to undertake household chores does not amount to cruelty.

The judgement came from a division bench comprising Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Neena Bansal Krishna, which was hearing an appeal filed by a man against a family court's ruling that had dismissed his request for marriage dissolution over alleged cruelty by his wife.

The bench stressed the shared responsibilities that come with marriage, stating that tasks done by a wife for her household stem from love and affection, and should not be compared to the work of a maid-servant.

The expectation from a wife to manage household duties, according to the court, falls within the traditional division of responsibilities and cannot be viewed as cruelty.

Despite setting aside the family court's judgement and granting the husband divorce based on other grounds of cruelty under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the court's observation on household chores drew attention to the balancing of roles within a marriage.

The couple, who got married in 2007 and became parents to a son born in 2008, experienced a strained relationship from the start.

The husband accused the wife of reluctance to perform household duties and failing to integrate with his family, claims the woman contested by stating that her contributions went unappreciated.

The bench noted the husband's efforts to salvage the marriage, including arranging separate accommodation to please his wife. However, the court observed that her frequent departures to live with her parents suggested a reluctance to uphold matrimonial unity, and depriving the husband of a shared life with his son.

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