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A spouse who refuses to have sex with their partner is guilty of cruelty, the Delhi High Court has ruled, in a case over a contested divorce.
The court judge declared that denial of sex was justifiable grounds for divorce after a man said that his wife had refused to sleep with him on their wedding night and had only consented 10 to 15 times over a five-month period.
“The testimony of the husband that the wife was never responsive and was like a dead wood when he had sexual intercourse with her remained unrebutted,” Justice Kailash Gambhir said in his verdict, the Press Trust of India reported on Saturday.
“It is evident that wilful denial of sexual intercourse without reasonable cause would amount to cruelty,” Gambhir said.
The high court rejected an appeal by the woman against the divorce, which was granted by a lower court in 2001 after the couple had married in 1991.
“Sex is the foundation of marriage and marriage without sex is an anathema,” Gambhir said.
“Marriage without sex will be an insipid relation.”
“There may be cases where one partner to the marriage may be over sexual and the other may not have the desire to the same level, but otherwise is fully potent,” he added.
The verdict came after Indian lawmakers last week cleared a draft bill to make divorces easier. Most marriages in India are still arranged by family members and divorce is rare, but rates are reported to have risen rapidly in recent years in the country’s larger cities.