In a Hindu society, it is a "pious obligation" of the son to maintain parents and the persistent effort of the wife to constrain the husband to be separated from his family constitutes an act of 'cruelty' enabling him to get a divorce, the Supreme Court has said.

A bench of Justices Anil R Dave and L Nageshwara Rao made the observations while confirming the decree of divorce sought by a Karnataka-based man.

The order was passed while setting aside Karnataka High Court judgment which had dismissed the decree of divorce granted by a Bangalore family court in 2001.

"In a Hindu society, it is a religious obligation of the son to maintain the parents. If a wife makes an attempt to deviate from the normal practice and normal custom of the society, she must have some justifiable reason for that and, in this case; we do not find any justifiable cause, except monetary consideration of the wife.

"In our opinion, normally, no husband would tolerate this, and no son would like to be separated from his old parents and other family members, who are also dependent upon his income. The persistent effort of the wife to constrain the husband to be separated from the family would be torturous for husband and in our opinion, the trial court was right when it came to the conclusion that this constitutes an act of 'cruelty'," the apex court said.

It further said, "It is not a common practice or desirable culture for a Hindu son in India to get separated from his parents on getting married at the instance of the wife, especially when the son is the only earning member of the family. A son, brought up and given education by his parents, has a moral and legal obligation to take care and maintain the parents, when they become old and when they have either no income or have a meagre income. 

In the order, the court said that for a wife insisting her husband to live separately from his parents is a western thought '"alien to our culture and ethos".

"In India, generally people do not subscribe to the Western thought, where, upon getting married or attaining majority, the son gets separated from the family," the court said.

"She becomes integral to and forms part of the family of the husband, and normally without any strong justifiable reason, she would never insist that her husband should get separated from the family and live only with her,” it said.

Noting that in the present case, the behaviour of the wife appeared to be "terrifying and horrible", SC said, "One would find it difficult to live with such a person with tranquillity and peace of mind. Such torture would adversely affect the life of the husband."

The apex court confirmed the divorce of a Karnataka-based couple who got married in 1992.

The lower court had granted the husband divorce after he alleged cruelty on his wife's part. However, later the high court had set aside the trial court's judgement after which the man went in appeal in the Supreme Court.