‘Plea of mental instability being misused as grounds for divorce’

English: Karnataka High Court, in Bangalore, I...

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 ‘Show compassion’:Karnataka High Court judge N. Kumar speaking at a workshop on mental health awareness in Gulbarga on Sunday.

GULBARGA : Karnataka High Court judge N. Kumar on Sunday expressed anguish over the incidence of married couples seeking divorce on the grounds that either the wife or the husband was mentally unstable, and said that courts should be very careful while allowing such divorce petitions.

Inaugurating a workshop on Mental Health Awareness organised jointly by the Karnataka State Mental Health Authority, the district administration, Department of Health and Family Welfare and district judiciary here on Sunday, Mr. Kumar said the provision of mental instability as grounds for allowing divorce was being misused. He urged courts to thoroughly verify the doctor’s certificate while hearing such cases, and check whether the person accused of mental instability was really suffering from mental illness before allowing the petition for separation.

Mr. Kumar said that only cases where either the husband or the wife was “incurably of unsound mind” and or suffering from “continuous mental disorder” should be allowed, adding that divorce should only be allowed as a last resort.

Mr. Kumar said the replacing of joint families by nuclear families had resulted in the neglect of people with intellectual disabilities. It was the responsibility of society to show compassion towards them and help them to get the best possible treatment.

Rise in numbers

He expressed concern over the growing number of people afflicted with mental illness, and said that suicide among those with intellectual disabilities was on the rise. According to estimates, around 8 lakh of them ended their lives every year in the country, with the highest number in Bangalore, he said.

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February 2012
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