How Delhi HC Supports Your Right To Choose Karwa Chauth Fasting?

Delhi HC said that a wife's refusal to observe fast on Karwa Chauth doesn't amount to cruelty or give a reason to end marriage. The bench was dealing with the case of a husband who sought divorce from her wife on the grounds of cruelty.

Rudrani Gupta
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During a recent divorce case adjudicated by the Delhi High Court, the intricacies of marital discord and the role of religious beliefs took center stage. The court, presided over by Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Neena Bansal Krishna, delivered a significant ruling that sheds light on the boundaries of cruelty in matrimonial relationships. The High Court said that a wife's refusal to observe fast on Karwa Chauth doesn't amount to cruelty or give a reason to end the marriage.


The court made this decision while observing the case of a wife who had challenged the trial court's decision to allow divorce for her husband. The bench was dealing with the case of a husband who sought divorce from his wife on the grounds of cruelty. The husband said that the wife refused to observe Karwa Chauth because he didn't recharge her phone. 


The case involved a husband filing for divorce under Sections 13(1)(ia) and 13(1)(ib) of the Hindu Marriage Act, citing cruelty by his wife. The couple, who married in April 2009, endured a separation in 2011 after residing together for one year and three months. The husband alleged that the wife left the matrimonial home in January 2010, returning after 47 days without a satisfactory explanation. Notably, the wife did not contest the fact that she was away from the matrimonial home for a total of 147 days.

"Fasting or not is a woman's individual choice."

A pivotal aspect of the court's ruling addressed the wife's religious choices, specifically her decision not to observe the ritual of fasting on "Karwachauth."

The court said, "Fasting or not fasting on Karwa Chauth may be an individual choice and, if dispassionately considered, may not be termed an act of cruelty. Having different religious beliefs and not performing certain religious duties would not amount to cruelty or would not be sufficient to sever a marital tie."


The judgment emphasized the individual nature of choices related to religious practices, stating that fasting or not fasting on occasions like "Karwachauth" is a matter of personal discretion. The court maintained that such choices, when objectively considered, should not be deemed acts of cruelty.

Acts of Rejection and Cruelty

The court scrutinized the wife's actions during the separation, highlighting instances that it deemed indicative of cruelty. The wife's act of removing vermillion from her forehead and claiming widowhood when the husband suffered a slip disc in April 2011 was characterized by the court as the "ultimate act of rejection of a matrimonial relationship."

Furthermore, the court addressed the husband's claim that the wife refused to observe the fast on the first Karwachauth due to a petty reason.

Consequently, the court said, "When coupled with the conduct of the appellant/wife and in the circumstances as proved by the respondent/husband in the present case, it is established that non-conforming with the prevalent rituals in Hindu culture, which symbolize love and respect for the husband as well as the matrimonial relationship, fortifies the irresistible conclusion that appellant/wife had no respect for the respondent/husband and their marital bond. It also reflects that the appellant/wife had no intention to continue her marriage with the respondent/husband."

The Delhi High Court, in its ruling, affirmed that the appellant/wife had acted with cruelty towards the respondent/husband. The court found that the relationship had become irretrievably strained, marked by acrimony and irreconcilable differences. The judgment, grounded in Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, concluded that divorce had been rightfully granted.


Why is the ruling on Karwa Chauth encouraging?

Apart from the dramatic proceedings, the court's comment on Karwa Chauth is appreciable. It upholds a woman's individual choice. In our society, where women are expected to conform to traditions without any ifs and buts,. It is believed that following the traditions and keeping them alive are the responsibilities of a woman. Especially when it comes to religious traditions, women are expected to be religious to save the lives of their family members. In the case of karwa chauth, women observe a day-long fast for the long lives of their husbands. But there is no such dedication or effort performed by the husbands. So why should women be forced to perform this unequal service?

As far as love and care are concerned, it is a give-and-take relationship. Both husband and wife should be involved in it equally. Moreover, love cannot be demanded, nor can it be defined through methods. A wife who doesn't observe fast on Karwa Chauth loves her husband as much as he does. It is just her choice not to do something. When we don't question men on their choice to not perform housework, why are we so hell-bent on questioning women's choices? 

Views expressed are the author's own. 


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