India: 89-year-old man’s denied divorce by India’s Supreme Court after 27 years of litigation
By Ahmad Hadizat Omayoza, Mamos Nigeria
India’s Supreme Court has denied a man in his 80s the right to divorce his wife of 60 years, 27 years after he first sought the dissolution of the marriage.
Divorce remains taboo in most parts of India, with only one in 100 marriages ending in dissolution due to family and social pressures to stay in an unhappy marriage.
Anyone seeking a divorce must ask the court for permission, but courts will usually only grant permission if evidence of cruelty, violence, or unreasonable financial demands is presented .
Nirmal Singh Panesar, 89, married in 1963, but their relationship ended irretrievably in 1984 in a filing with India’s notoriously cold criminal justice system. He said it was bankrupt.
This year, his wife Paramjit Kaur Panesar, now 82, refused to accompany the Indian Air Force to the city south of Chennai when it was stationed there.
Nirmal first filed for divorce in 1996 on grounds of abuse and abandonment, which was granted by a local court in 2000, but was dismissed later that year on appeal from Paramjit.
It took another 20 years for his case to reach the Supreme Court, which denied the divorce petition even though it agreed that their marriage was “irreparable.”
The court’s verdict, released on Thursday, said: “Indian society still considers the institution of marriage as a pious, spiritual and precious emotional web of life between a man and a woman.”
The judgment said that granting the divorce would be “unjust” to Paramjit, who had complained to the court that he did not want to die with the “stigma” of being a divorcee.
She also said that she is making every effort to respect the couple’s “sacred relationship” and that she intends to take care of her husband even in his old age.
The couple have three children.