Ammu was happily married to Vikram. She led a monotonous, yet cheerful life with her husband and her mother-in-law. She takes care of everyone and has a positive approach to her. She has associated all her life with her husband and always finds happiness in her family. Vikram got a chance to be the head of the London branch of his company and so they host a party for all the friends and relatives.
And then something happened that shook her to her core. Vikram slaps her in front of everyone at a party. And the happy, cheerful Amu becomes sad and hopeless. No one around her understands what changed, until a day when she decides that she wants to live at her parents’ house for some time. Vikram was furious and want Amu back at his house and hence he files a petition under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
Restitution of Conjugal Rights,i.e, Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act is used in situations where anyone of the spouses has withdrawn from the society of the other, without any reasonable justification. Restitution means the restoration of some loss, and conjugal rights mean the marriage relationship between the husband and wife. The rationale behind this Section is that marriage imposes an obligation on both the spouses to cohabit with each other. The necessary implication of marriage is that parties will live together.
The guilty party is ordered to live with the aggrieved party under a decree of Restitution of Conjugal Rights. The origin of Restitution of Conjugal Rights is in Jewish law, from where it was adopted in English law, and from English law it came to Indian law.
The defense of reasonable excuse is present for the respondent and the burden of proof to prove that a reasonable excuse existed lies with the respondent.
Amu doesn’t want to go back. She is devastated by the indifference shown by Vikram towards her feelings. And she decides to file for a divorce. She had to face every kind of opposition from her family but for her father. She know that she has a tough fight ahead. But she is not ready to give up.
In a scene, Vikram says “then half the wives in India would leave home for something so trivial”, which can be considered the mindset of the society in case of domestic violence or cruelty. A wife is considered to be better-half of the husband in our scriptures, any rites are considered incomplete without a wife, but our society and the patriarchal mindset of people have let us believe the superiority of men in relationships.
Restitution of Conjugal Rights is a remedy for the marriages to not wither away, but a reasonable excuse can be a reason for the spouse to live separately.
This movie not only throws light on a legal aspect but also societal, psychological and emotional aspects of the Restitution of Conjugal Rights and divorce. And it becomes a must-watch for all the future lawyers.