‘Desertion’ cannot itself be a valid ground of divorce, ‘constructive desertion’ a better indicator, holds Delhi HC

In a case where the legality of a divorce decree was being scrutinized, the judges noted that desertion by itself was not enough reason to grant divorce because many times one spouse is forced to leave by the conduct of the other. The Delhi High Court set aside the decree of a lower court which had granted divorce on a misreading of the evidence submitted by the husband claiming that the wife had left the matrimonial home without his consent and had refused to return upon multiple requests.

The Court further acknowledged that the wife never wished to bring the matrimonial ties to an end but was in fact forced by the conduct of the husband to leave the matrimonial home. Therefore, it was the husband who was responsible for constructive desertion. The court went on to observe that desertion was not a withdrawal from a place but rather from a state of things and was a repudiation of all obligations of marriage and so could not be tested by merely ascertaining which party left the matrimonial home first.

Citation: Nisha Rani v. Sohan Singh Nehra, 2017 SCC OnLine Del 6404