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Navigating conjugal rights: A legal tussle between man and 'weekend wife' unfolds in Gujarat High Court

Explore the legal intricacies surrounding conjugal rights and marital obligations as a working woman challenges her husband's claim under the Hindu Marriage Act in a contentious case before the Gujarat High Court.

Navigating conjugal rights: A legal tussle between man and 'weekend wife' unfolds in Gujarat High Court snt
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First Published Dec 17, 2023, 3:41 PM IST

In a recent legal dispute, a working woman has approached the Gujarat High Court to contest her husband's claim filed under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act. The husband sought restitution of conjugal rights, asserting that his wife's limited presence in their matrimonial home, restricted to two weekends a month, amounted to a violation of her spousal duties.

The husband, filing his case in a Surat family court last year, argued that his wife, after the birth of their child, continued to live with her parents under the pretext of her job. He expressed grievances about her visiting only on the second and fourth weekends, alleging abandonment and deprivation of conjugal rights. The wife, in response, filed an objection, asserting her regular visits and challenging the maintainability of her husband's suit.

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The family court, in a decision on September 25, rejected the wife's objection, stating that the claims required a full-fledged trial and could not be decided at the pre-trial stage. This decision set the stage for the matter to be taken to the Gujarat High Court.

Before the High Court, the woman's lawyer argued that Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act allows direction to fulfill conjugal obligations only if there is a withdrawal from the society of the spouse. Given that the wife regularly visited her matrimonial home every second weekend, her lawyer argued that the husband's claim of abandonment was unfounded.

Justice V D Nanavati, presiding over the case, raised a crucial question: "What is wrong if the husband asks his wife to come and stay with him? Does he not have the right to sue?" This inquiry underscores the complexity of the matter and the need for careful consideration.

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The case brings to light the evolving dynamics of marital relationships in contemporary society, where career pursuits and individual autonomy often influence decisions related to living arrangements. The legal battle prompts reflection on the balance between individual rights and conjugal obligations within the framework of marriage.

As the Gujarat High Court awaits the husband's response by January 25, the case holds the potential to set a precedent on issues surrounding conjugal rights and the interpretation of the Hindu Marriage Act. It reflects the need for a nuanced understanding of the complexities within modern marriages, emphasizing the importance of balancing personal autonomy with the traditional expectations of marital responsibilities.

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