The Punjab and Haryana high court has ruled that a person suffering from hepatitis B, which could be passed on to others by s*xual activity, could not be a ground for divorce. The court passed these orders while rejecting the plea of a man seeking directions for medical examination of his wife on the grounds that she was suffering from hepatitis B, which was transmissible by exposure to infectious blood or semen and v**ginal fluids.
"Cruelty must be a voluntary act of person who visits cruelty on the other. If a woman refuses s*xual access, there are authorities to the effect that such a voluntary refusal would itself constitute a cruelty and afford a ground for divorce. This is not a case where the woman is complained of as having denied s*xual access to the husband. On the other hand, the apprehension of the petitioner is that if he has access to the wife, he will get infected with hepatitis B. I am afraid this argument is not sound, for every communicable disease does not afford a spouse a ground for divorce," observed Justice K Kannan in the November 4 orders.
The judge was of the view that there are the only two instances of diseases, apart from mental illness, which afford a ground for a spouse to seek for divorce under the existing laws. These include where a person has been suffering from a virulent and incurable form of leprosy and a person has been suffering from venereal disease in communicable form.
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The matter had reached before the court through a petition filed by a Hoshiarpur resident seeking directions for medical examination of his wife. The petitioner had apprehensions that his wife was suffering from hepatitis B, which could be communicated by s*xual access. Thus, he would be denied of s*xual access to his wife, which amounted to cruelty and a ground of divorce. He had approached the HC after the local court, where his petition for divorce against his wife is pending, had declined permission for medical examination.
Dismissing his plea for medical examination, Justice Kannan also observed that it was a male-dominated society and it led to several ills. The judge stated the present petition itself was an example of how cruel a man could be to a woman in a matrimonial relationship.