The Karnataka High Court has set aside a civil court’s order for Rs 4 lakh compensation to a woman in an estranged relationship and ruled that the couple’s marriage would stand dissolved on account of the wife converting to another religion, though no divorce has been formalised.
In a November 13, 2015, order, the civil court directed a 47-year-old man from Bengaluru to pay Rs 4 lakh in compensation to his estranged wife (35), who sought divorce on the grounds of domestic violence. The court then partly allowed an appeal filed by the woman, also a resident of Bengaluru, against the rejection of her divorce claim filed under Section 22 of the Domestic Violence Act.
Justice Rajendra Badamikar gave his judgment in October but it was posted on the high court website only recently. “It is evident from the records that both the courts have concurrently held that there is no domestic violence committed against the wife. This finding is not challenged by the wife. Further, admittedly the wife was converted into Christianity and when she gets converted into Christianity, all the rights vested in her stand nullified,” the judge ruled while allowing the appeal filed by the husband against the compensation order.
“Though there is no divorce between the parties, in view of the conversion of the wife to Christianity, it would disclose that the marriage stands dissolved. Besides, there is no specific declaration passed in this regard by any competent court of law. However, it is an admitted fact that the wife is converted into Christianity,” the court ruled.
The high court said that as per Section 22 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, compensation can be awarded when domestic violence is established. “But admittedly in the instant case, both the courts have concurrently held that domestic violence is not established and in fact, the wife has got converted into Christianity and it is a case of vice versa,” the court said while observing that the lower court ordered the compensation “only on the ground that still the marriage subsists and as she is unable to maintain herself”.
“But under Section 22 [of the] Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, compensation can be awarded only if domestic violence is proved and in fact, in the instant case, after getting converted into Christianity, the revision petitioner/wife has lost all the rights vested in her,” the high court ruled.
“Under these circumstances, the Appellate Court has committed an error in awarding compensation and the compensation awarded that tune of Rs 4,00,000/- which has resulted in miscarriage of justice,” the court said.