Can the central and state governments not ensure pre-marital medical counselling, if not full-fledged medical examination, for prospective couples to avoid ‘marital crimes’ arising out of non-disclosure of medical conditions, wondered the Madras high court on Monday.
Justice N Kirubakaran, ending his judgement with a yearning, said that if premarital examinations were made mandatory, many problems due to medical issues, failure of marriages due to fraud, non-disclosure of health problems, etc., could be averted. “Therefore, it is appropriate for the central and state governments to sensitise people about the importance of pre-marital counselling at least, if not pre-marital examination. Benefits of such counselling by medical experts could be spread by proper advertisements in media, short movies, seminars in colleges, etc. Will they ,” he asked.
The judge was anguished by the divorce petition of a 24-year-old woman who had been cheated into marrying a man who was suffering from a hole in the heart, cancer in the thigh from where discharge was oozing out even on the day of their marriage in November 2014, and also impotence.
The woman petitioner said that she was married to him though his family members were aware of his medical condition, and added that their honeymoon trip itself had turned into a nightmare because of that.
The husband had sought restitution of the marriage saying that his cancer had been cured.
When he submitted his medical records as directed by the court, it was revealed that he was infertile too.
Justice Kirubakaran, recording these findings, said: “This case would amply demonstrate how a young lady suffers because of the marriage conducted without proper inquiry and verification about the groom. There was no medical examination or relevant investigation.
“Therefore, it is prudent for the parents of prospective brides and grooms to make necessary inquiry and verification about the health of their prospective son-in-law or daughter-in-law, as the case may be.
“However, in haste and hurry, most of the marriages are conducted and invariably, the women are becoming victims suffering violation of their dignity, human rights and right to decent and meaningful life guaranteed in the Constitution.”
Justice Kirubakaran further said, “one should remember that institution of marriage is based on mutual faith and trust where both the bride and the groom are equal partners.”
Casting aside rules and formalities, the judge then declared the marriage of the petitioner null and void, saying that the court remanding the matter back to the family court concerned for a trial would only result in the couple running from pillar to post in court for years.
The judge also had a few words of consolation and encouragement for the man as well.
“He should not feel discouraged and demoralised due to cancer, as new therapies are creating wonders. What is needed is will power and regular follow-up,” said Justice Kirubakaran.
This case is a classic illustration of how marriages are being conducted, with the parties concerned suppressing the weaknesses, diseases and inability of the prospective spouse, the court noted in the judgment.
Justice Kirubakaran added that crimes against women were being committed in the name of “marriages.”
Coming out with a reminder that society had a moral responsibility to check this trend, the court said, “Child marriages, denial to choose life partner and forced marriages against will, elderly men marrying young girls and celebrating marriages without even normal verification about the groom and his health condition are a few illustrations of marital crimes.”