Women can end marriage if they face mental torture, court rules

    Expanding the scope of an earlier Supreme Court ruling allowing women to seek dissolution of marriage on account of “cruelty” by their husband or his family, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) has declared that besides physical violence against women by their husbands, mental, moral, and psychological torture is also tantamount to cruelty in such cases.

    Justice Shahid Khan of a single-member bench ruled this while hearing a petition filed by a female cancer patient against the dissolution of her marriage.

    Initially, the woman had filed a lawsuit for the dissolution of her marriage on basis of cruelty in a trial court. The trial court (family court) had accepted the woman’s plea and had ordered the ex-husband to pay the dower amount as well as past maintenance from June 2018 to the completion of the ex-wife’s iddat period. The court had also ordered the recovery of Rs500,000 on account of medical expenses as requested by the woman.

    The woman had maintained that she got married in 2018 and after four months of the marriage she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had accused her husband of physical, mental, and psychological torture. However, the ex-husband denied the claims and challenged the verdict in a North Waziristan appellate court, which partially accepted it and dissolved the marriage on the basis of khula and not cruelty.

    However, both the woman and her ex-husband appealed the verdict in the high court.

    Justice Shahid Khan set aside the North Waziristan appellate court’s verdict that terminated the couple’s marriage on the basis of khula and not cruelty.

    The court observed that the husband’s attitude was not cordial with his wife since the beginning of the marriage, adding according to the evidence presented, the man also never accompanied his wife during her clinical investigation.

    It also observed that the man’s attitude was rather unbelievable, improper, and indecent, considering that he knew that his wife was suffering from an incurable disease and has a thin chance of survival.

    “Due love and affection is the inherent right of the wife,” it observed.

    The court ruled that the appellate court made a mistake by not dissolving the marriage on the basis of cruelty from the husband, whereas the conclusion of the trial court to dissolve the marriage tie on the ground of cruelty was well found.

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