Explained! How the ‘Sakha-Sindoor Judgement’ was Misinterpreted by the Media | Guwahati news

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

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Explained! How the ‘Sakha-Sindoor Judgement’ was Misinterpreted by the Media

Barasha Das | July 01, 2020 17:44 hrs

•    Each judgement is for one particular case, this is not a ‘blanket judgement’ or order. It cannot be held as a precedent for other similar matrimonial cases.

•    In this case the High Court has made an ‘observation’ about the issue with sindoor and sakha (in this particular case); it has ‘not given a direction’.

Over the last few days, local and national media have been agog with reports on a Gauhati High Court (GHC) judgement that “refusal to wear ‘sakha and sindoor’ will project her (a married woman) to be unmarried and/or signify her refusal to accept the marriage.”

The judgement has created a massive controversy across the country and many have even taken to social media to condemn the Hon’ble Gauhati High Court.

The judgement to the much hyped case (Case Number Mat.App.20/2019) was given on 19th June, 2020. The judgement was given by a Division Bench of the Gauhati High Court, comprising Chief Justice Ajai Lamba and Justice Soumitra Saikia.

 


 A synopsis of the media reports

As per the Gauhati HC judgement, a woman’s refusal to wear the sakha bangles made of conch-shells and sindoor (vermilion), as per marriage rituals, would signify her refusal to accept her marriage to her husband.

The court has observed that under the custom of Hindu Marriage, if a lady who has entered into marriage according to Hindu rituals and customs, her refusal to wear 'sakha and sindoor' will project her to be unmarried (refusal to accept her marriage).

“Under the custom of Hindu Marriage, a lady who has entered into marriage according to Hindu rituals and customs, and which has not been denied by the respondent in her evidence, her refusal to wear ‘sakha and sindoor’ will project her to be unmarried,” quoted media from the judgement.

The couple in question on whom the judgement was delivered had been married since February of 2012 and just a month after their marriage, the wife had demanded to live with her husband separately in a nuclear family and not in a joint family. Given the frequent arguments between them, the wife failed to conceive a child and left the house in 2013 after which, she filed a case against her husband and her in-laws. She backed up her plea alleging that she was denied food, medication and all basic necessities which her brother had to provide for her. She was also harassed for dowry.

 


Observations of the Court (Excerpts from the Gauhati HC Judgement)

•    This matrimonial appeal has been filed by the appellant husband being aggrieved by the judgment dated 15.12.2018 passed in Title Suit (M) No.9/2014 by the Court of District Judge, Dibrugarh, dismissing the suit for divorce preferred by the appellant husband.

•    His marriage with the respondent wife was solemnized on 17.02.2012. After marriage, the appellant and the respondent started their conjugal life in the matrimonial house of the appellant. After about a month into their marriage, the respondent wife demanded to reside separately with the appellant husband away from the husband’s relatives in a separate house ... Being unable to accede to the demands made by the respondent wife for separate accommodation, quarrels became frequent between the respondent wife and the appellant husband leading to unpleasantness in their matrimonial life.

•    The respondent wife in her evidence ... stated that she was subjected to extreme cruelty by the appellant’s step-mother, sister-in-law, brother and his two sisters. ...the family members of the appellant tortured her physically and mentally by demanding various cash and kinds from her as dowry and also declined to provide her the bare necessities of life.

•    She stated that she had filed three cases against the appellant. She further stated that she does not want to stay with the appellant or compromise with the appellant.

•    “That I am not wearing/putting sindoor right now because I don’t consider him as my husband.” stated the wife.

•    Under the custom of Hindu Marriage, a lady who has entered into marriage according to Hindu rituals and customs, and which has not been denied by the respondent (wife) in her evidence, her refusal to wear ‘sakha and sindoor’ will project her to be unmarried and/or signify her refusal to accept the marriage with the appellant. Such categorical stand of the respondent points to the clear intention of the respondent that she is unwilling to continue her conjugal life with the appellant. Under such circumstances compelling the appellant husband to continue to be in matrimony with the respondent wife may be construed to be harassment inflicted by the respondent upon the appellant and his family members. This evidence although available before the Family Court during the evidence adduced, was not taken into account during the discussion in the impugned judgment


The actual judgement explained

In the backdrop of such a controversy across media platforms, G Plus reached out to Justice Soumitra Saikia for a proper explanation of the judgement and to clear the controversy. Justice Saikia however said, “Once a judgement is made I as the judge cannot explain it further. Once I have rendered a judgement, I am ‘functus officio’ so far as that particular case is concerned. I will leave that for people’s assessment after they read the judgement.”

Practicing lawyers of the Gauhati High Court explained the judgement as:

•    Each judgement is for one particular case, this is not a ‘blanket judgement’ or order. It cannot be held as a precedent for other similar matrimonial cases.

•    The order is actually on grounds of mental cruelty and other issues; it is not targeting sindoor and sakha at all.

•     A judgement must be read in its entirety. First the facts are placed, then the observations are made and finally the directions are made. 

•    In this case the High Court has made an ‘observation’ about the issue with sindoor and sakha (in this particular case); it has ‘not given a direction’.

•    The reading meant that as the lady has stated that she will not be wearing sindoor and sakha as she has lost her faith in the institution of marriage and trust in her husband. So that and due to other issues the couple was granted divorce. 

•    It is a misinterpretation of the whole judgement.

Anita Verma, practicing advocate of Gauhati High Court said, “I have read various posts covering the judgement. Most of them have misinterpreted it. Headlines should be thoughtfully written and not to create a temporary flutter. These ripples are not good for the society. The sindoor and sakha part is only an observation of the honourable Court.”

Comment (1) Post Comment
  • Zepher

    Good to see this from a local media when the national media is covering the elsewise. So much clarity!!