The Bombay High Court has rejected a 33-year-old banker’s plea seeking annulment of her marriage (a formal announcement that ends the existence of the marriage) citing 19 years of abuse.
The woman had claimed she had been forced to marry a man who had physically abused her since she was 14. She said she underwent the ordeal in silence because she belonged to an Orthodox family in Haryana where the custom of Khap Panchayat prevails.
The Divisional Bench of Judges KR Shriram and PK Chavan, in their order, noted that there was no evidence or corroboration of the woman’s claims and that all of the evidence was unlikely, incredible and unacceptable.
The woman told the court that the man had been pursuing her since 2002, when she was in 10th standard and had established physical relations with her. He threatened to make her obscene photographs go viral. The woman recounted numerous incidents where the man had physically assaulted her.
Finally, she filed a complaint against the man with Goregaon Township Police in 2013 citing rape and criminal intimidation, but did not pursue the case. In 2017, the woman went to Family Court to seek annulment of the marriage, which was rejected following which she appealed to the High Court.
After reviewing the case, the bench said, “No sane man would believe and accept her (appellant) testimony because it is nothing but ipsedixism (assertion without proof or expression dogmatic opinion). It is quite evident from the evidence that this is a case of inflicted insight.
The court called her plea “incredible” and noted that the woman had not filed a complaint against the man and did not tell her parents until 2013. “Strangely, the appellant (the woman ) remained quiet and passive despite such trauma,” the order said.
The bench also noted that the woman’s behavior was “quite strange” and “cannot be considered natural behavior of an educated woman living independently in a city like Mumbai”. The woman worked in a bank in South Mumbai.
The woman, in her plea, requested the annulment of the marriage and a declaration that the marriage certificate issued to the man in December 2011 was false and falsified. According to the woman, who is from Haryana and currently works in a bank in Mumbai, the man took advantage of her timid, shy and introverted nature and terrorized her since she was 14 years old.
The woman claimed she came from a rural background where women and their voices are stifled and where honor killings, rape and other crimes against women were a daily feature due to which families advise their women to face oppression in silence. The woman said the man gave her spiked ‘prasad’ and called her friends and took pictures of them at a temple.
The woman claimed that she never married the man and that the marriage certificate documents submitted by the man were fabricated. She alleged that in December 2011, she was given sweets containing drugs and was forcibly taken to a temple where she was forced to sign documents related to her marriage certificate.
The court also noted that it cannot believe the woman’s claims that she was forcibly taken away by the man and given drug-laden candies.
“It is incomprehensible that she did not disclose the incidents to her friends or colleagues who could have taken effective action by speaking to the police or at least to their superiors at work. Such behavior by the appellant is utterly strange and cannot be called the natural conduct of an educated woman living independently in a city like Mumbai. No sane man will believe and accept her statement,” the court said.
The bench further noted that it does not understand why the woman remained silent from 2011 (when she realized she was allegedly abducted and given fortified candy) until 2017. when she filed for annulment of the marriage.
The HC in its order noted that according to the Hindu Marriage Act, a marriage may be annulled on the grounds that the consent of either party (male or female) has been obtained by force or fraud, but it is prohibited by prescription (the plea for annulment of the marriage must be filed within a limited time).