Topic: T. Sareetha v. Venkata Subbaiah - RCR

T. Sareetha vs T. Venkata Subbaiah
Equivalent citations: AIR 1983 AP 356 - Date of judgment: 1 July, 1983
Bench: P Choudary

ORDER

1. This civil revision petition is filed by sareetha, a well- known film actress of the south Indian screeen agianst an order passed by the learned subordinate Judge , cuddapah ,overruling her objection raised to the enter taining of an application filed by one venkata subbaiah, under section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act) for restitution of conjugal rights with her.

2. Sareetha while studying in a highschool and then hardly aged about sixteen-years and staying with her parents at Madras was alleged to have been given in marriage to the said venkata subbaiah, at Tirupathi on 13-12-1975. Almost immediately thereafter they were separated from each other and have been continuously living apart fromeach othe for these five-years and more. Venkata subbaish had, therefore, filed under section 9 of the Act O.P. No. 1 of 1981 on the file of the subcourt, cuddapah for restitution of conjugal rights with sareetha. Sareetha had taken a preliminary objection to the jurisdiction of the cuddapah sub-court to the entertaining of that application the contention of sareetha was that the petition filed by venkata subbaiah itself showed lack of jurisdiction on the part of cuddapah Court to try the petition and that the sub-court cuddapah ought to have declined jurisdiction. The basis for this objection was an allegation "that the marriage took place at Tirupathi and that the petitioner and respondent last resided together at madras". Sareetha relied upon this statement of venkata subbaiah to say that the cuddapah Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the petition of venkata su bbaiah. It was this preliminary objection taken by sareetha that had been overruled by the cuddapah sub-court, leading sareetha to the filing of this civil Revision petition.

3. Venkata subbaiah hails from cuddapah where he owns a house and agricultural lands. Venkata subbaiah stated in his petition for restitution of conjugal rights that after his marriage with sareetha at Tirupathi in December 1975, he and sareetha went to cuddapah and lived there together for six months and that thereafter they went to Madras and stayed at Madras with the parents of sareetha for some time. According to venkata subbaiah, their stay a cuddapah for six months was immediately after their marriage at Tirupathi and that was the place where they last resided together within the meaning of the Act. The subsequent stay at madras according to venkata subbaiah, should not be regarded as the place where they last resided together. On the other hand, sareetha contended that as she and venkata subbaiah had on the statement of venkata subbaiah himself last lived to gether at madras the cuddapah Court would have no jurisdiction to try the application of venkata subbaiah.

4. By the date of her marriage sareetha was studying in High school and was living with her parents at Madras. Venkata subbaiah hails from cuddapah. The petition of venkata subbaiah disclosed that after their marriage at Tirupathi they lived at cuddapah for six months and that thereafter they went to the parents of sareetha at madras and lived there for some time. There can be no doubt that Madras was thier last place of living together because thereafter they parted company with each other. Those were the days when sareetha was attempting to gain access to the south Indian cinefield of which she is today one of the most talented top actresses. According to venkata subbaiah's allegations, these attempts of sareetha led to misunderstanding between him and sareetha on the one hand and also between him and the parents of sareetha on the other, and forced venkata subbaiah to return to cuddapah leaving sareetha at Madras. Thereafter venkata subbaiah and sareetha never met each other.

5.  Now  the  plea  of sareetha  objecting  tot he jurisdiction of cuddapah  Court   raised two  questions.  Firstly  did  the   parties  live at cuddapah   immediately after  their  marriage? Secondly, If  they did  the madras  residence supersede the cuddapah  residence?   Sareetha   in  her   petition did not  specifically  deny   the allegation   made by   venkata    subbaiah that   after  marriage   they had lived   at cuddapah.  All that  she had stated  in  her petition was:

  "The  respondent admitted in para  3 of his  petition that the marriage  took  place at Tirupathi  and the   petitioner    and  respondent last resided  together at  Madras  Hence  the main   petition  does   not lie  in this   Court  for  the   reason  that the cause  of  action   is raising      outside  the  territorial   jurisdiction of this  Court.  As  per section 19 of the Hindu  Marriage  Act 1955 the Court  at  Tirupathi when  the  marriage took place or at madras  where  the   petitioner and respondent  last  resided   together   alone  have  jurisdiction to try  this petition.  Hence  the  petition  is liable to be  dismissed for  want  of jurisdiction".



The learned subordinate  judge   construed  the   above   pleadings  of sareetha  as  not  amounting  to a specific   denial  of  venkata  subbaiah's   allegation  that  the  husband  and wife   lived   at  cuddapah   for  six  months  immediately   after   thier marriage at Tirupathi and    before    going   to  Madras.  The learned  subordinate judge found  the pleadings of sareetha to mean to say that the  Madras residence amounted in  law  to have superseded the cuddapah residence.  The  learned  subordinate  Judge   found,as a  fact, that the cuddapah  residence  was not denied  by sareetha.  He  accordingly  examined  the  second    question  and found  that the Madras  stay  was not sufficient  to  displace  the cuddapah  residence.  In the result   he  found that the cuddapah  Court had jurisdiction to try the application filed by venkata  subbaiah.



6.  In this  C.R.P.   these  findings are assailed by sareetha.



7.  As   already  noted, venkata  subbaiah  had specifically   pleaded  that they had  lived  together  at cuddapah  immediately  after their marriage  sareetha  failed to  specifically  deny  this  averment    made by   Venkata  subbaiah.  I  therefore  think   that the   learned  subordinate   Judge   was right    in  holding  believing   venkata  subbaiah,  that the parties   lived    at the house  of venkata  subbaiah at cuddapah.  Even  otherwise  it would  not  be easy  to believe that a newly  married   couple    as the parties  are alleged    to be  first  went   to the parents   of the wife at Madras   without  going  to  the  husband's place  at cuddapah  certainly    this is not  common  among  the agricultural  communities    who are  more firmly   bound  tied  to their  place of residence and agriculture.  Further   the very  plea  of sareetha   that madras  was the place   where  they last resided  together   amounts   to an admission  on her  part  that there was



At least one another   place  where they resided together   prior  to their  residing at madras.   That place of residence could  only be  cuddapah.  For all these  reasons  I  hold  that  venkata  subbaiah  and sareetha   lived  at cuddapah  for  some time  immediately  after  thier  marriage  as alleged by  venkata  subbaiah.



8.  But the  next  question  whether cuddapah  or Madras  should be counted  as the place  where  the  parties   had last lived  together  for the purpose  of  section 19 of the Act  still requires  to be considered  and answered.  For  its  answer  this  question  depends  upon the  meaning   to be given  to the statutory   provision of section 19  of the Act,  we should  therefore read  section 19 of  the Act.



9.  Section 19: "every  petition under this Act  shall  be  presented to the district   Court within  the local limits of whose ordinary   original  civil  jurisdiction-

   

(i)  the marriage  was solemnized  or



(ii)   the respondent, at the  time of the presentation of the petition resides, or



(iii)   the parties to  the  marriage last resided   together   or



(iv)  the petitioner is residing  at the time of  presentation of the petition in a case  where  the  respondent is, at  that time,   residing outside  the territories  to which the  Act extends or has not been heard  of as being   alive  for a  period  of  seven  years  or more  by those persons  who would  naturally  have heard  of him if he was alive'.



Of its four clauses of section 19 of the Act, we are concerned in this case, with its clause (iii) which speaks of a place where the parties to the marriage last reised together the words parties to the marriage" in that clause present no difficulty and they obviously refer to the wife and husband. It is the use of the word "resided" that causes a degree of uncertainly in the ascertainment of the meaning of this clause. The word is not defined by the Act. In its dictionary sense of the word, "to reside" means, "to dwell permanently or for a length of time". (See webster's dictionary) temporary place of residence or a casual place of stay is thus excluded from being called a residence. Further in the third clause of section 19 of the Act, the "residence" spoken of is the joint residence. Combinedly read, the third clause of section 19 refers to a place where the husband and wife lived together permanently or at least for sufficinetly long period of time. Such a place can only be a place of permanent dwelling taken up by the husband and wife jointly for their matrimonial purposes. That place must be one to which the parties are bound by the solemn ties of their matrimony. That can only be the place chosen by them jointly as suitable for fulfilling their matrimonial vous of Dharma, Artha, kama and Moksha. In other words the third clause of section 19 of the Act refers to the matrimonial home of the parties to the marriage.

10.  The secular description given by Ridley J., to the  place  of residence of a person as 'the  place where   he eats, drinks and sleeps  indicates the connection  of the place   to  the carrying  on  of the activities  by  the  resident.  (See  stoke-on-Trent  Borough  council  v. Cheshire  country  council    (1913)  3 KB  699, 704,  705).  In a  matrimonial  matter, Lord  Merriman  said (in Lowry  v. Lowry  (1952)  2 All ER  61).

  "..........I  suppose the words "last ordinarily   resided together  as man  and wife  in England" could  be paraphrased by saying  that the matrimonial   home  at  which  the  parties  last   cohabited  was in england".



These    ordinarily  accepted  descriptions   of the word  reside  in matrimonial   cases  would have the effect of excluding the places where the  husband  and the wife  stayed   temporarily   on shor t sojourns   pursuing temporary   purposes  such as seeking  pleasure  or  visiting    a friend  or  a  temple  or attending   a function  from the category  of residence.  The  places   where  the wife  and husband stop  to eat  or drink   or stay  for the  night   during  such short fojourns  could never  be taken  to have been intended by section 19 (iii)   of  the  Act to be called "the  place they last resided together  Such places do not  reverberate  with  the  sounds of marriage destiny.  Giving   such a meaning   to the words   "last  resided  together   in section  19 (iii)   of  the  Act would make that clause   disfunctional.  Stay  in Elliot's   one-night   cheap   hotels    could  not  have been intended by  the  Act to be treated  as  the  place  of last   residence of the  husband   and wife.  In particular  in the case of those  who have a place of permanent  dwelling   a matrimonial   home can only refer  to their permanent dwelling  place.  But  where the   parties    to a marriage  have no permanent place of dwelling  to start  with and move  from place to place   like  the  wandering  Gypsies, it  would legally  be difficult to choose   one place    more  than another place  as  their place  of permanent  residence In such a case  acting out of  necessity created  by  the  statute  we may  have to ascribe     even to a temporary  place  of stay  the exalted   status  of the last  place of residence.  In such a case, we may have to call a stay  even  in a one-night  cheap  hotel  as the  last place of thier  residence, because  there are no competing claims  made by other place.  More  depends on the particular facts  of each case and  less on the  meaning of the  words.  Fixation of the  place where the parties last resided together  thus requires  the  courts  to take an over-all  view  of the particular  facts  in a  particular  case. But  venkata  subbaiah  had a permanent house at cuddapah  where he   eats, drinks  and sleeps  carrying   on his agricultural  operations  presumably  his ancestors  lived  there and worked   there with the mother-earth  ther he forged sacred  bonds   of intimacy.  It is  that place  to which venkata  subbaiah and sareetha went  immediately   after  their marriage  at Tirupathi  and  lived   for six months   that was the place chosen  by them  for fulfilling their   matrimonial  vows.  They  thus   made   cuddapah   their  matrimonial  home.  Thus,  within   the meaning   of clause (iii)   of section  19  of the Act, it is  cuddapah  alone that can be called thier    matrimonial  home and  their  place  of residence in this   case.  Such a residence cannot be  displaced by their  Madras  residence.  The   nature  and duration  of their stay at  madras  was temporary  and casual and had  no  enduring   claims   to make  that place a place of residence.  There they  were   visiting  the father and mother of sareetha  but  without   breaking  their  bonds  of  association  with cuddapah.  Such a temporary  or  casual  residence  at madras  occasioned  by  the  customary  necessity   of visiting   relatives,  cannot  displace  the place of their   permanent  dwelling  at cuddapah.  It follows  that  resided together  at cuddapah  and cuddapah   Court has jurisdiction to entertain  the application filed by  venkata  subbaiah  for restitution of conjugal  rights  under   section 19 (iii) of  the  Act.



11.  The petitioner's  learned counsel  cited several decisions of the  various   High Court  and also of the Supreme Court.  It does not appear to me  to be  necessary to refer  to htese cases in detail, because  I find  that in those cases  the Judgments merely  turned  upon  the   facts   of each  case.  The answer  to a question  where  the wife   and  husband  last  resided together  must, in the  nature  of  things, depend  upon on the particular  facts  of each case.

Re: T. Sareetha v. Venkata Subbaiah - RCR

12.   In R. Barnet  London  Borough  council (1981)  2 WLR  86,  the divisional   Court ruled  that the  expression "ordinary   residence"  embodied  a number  of  factors  such as  time, intention  and continuity each of  which might  carry a different  weight  according  to the  context    in  which and the  purpose for  which the expression was   used  in a particular  statute.

13. In the varying circumstances of a concrete case, no general principle of law can decide what relative weight should be given to these various factors of time, intention and continuity. The question therefore whether the wife and husband last resided together in a particular place, can only be decided on the particular evaluation of these changing and differing factors and not by folllowing any mechanical rule of thumb. The various decisions cited by the learned counsel cannot, therefore be taken as alying down any proposition of law. They can only be taken at best as laying down propositions of good sense.

14. In Qualcast wolverhampton Ltd. V. Hayness (1959) AC 743 Lord Denning chided the country Court for treating the decisions of th House of Lords on hte question whether the employer was guilty of negligence or not in particular cases as laying down any proposition of law binding upon a country Court.

15. In that case, an experienced moulder who injured himself in the course of his employment sued his employer for negligence. Although the country Court found as a fact that the moulder was not wearing protective spats that were made available by the employer and which would have prevented the injury held thinking that it was bound by the authoritative decisions of the superior courts that the employer was guilty of negligence, for their failure to administer warning to the experienced moulder. The House of lords reversed that judgment holding that the question what did reasonable care demand of the employers in that particular case was not a question of law but a question of fact on which no decision of the superior courts can Act as a precedential authority Lord Denning observed in that case:

"The question that did arise was this: what did reasonable care demand of the employers in this particulr case? That is not a question of law at all but a question of fact. To solve it the Tribunal of fact - be it Judge or jury - can take into account any proposition of good sense that is relevant in the circumstances, but it must beware not to treat it as a proposition of law. I may perhaps draw an analogy from the Highway code. It contains many propositions of good sense which may be taken into account in considering whether reasonable care has been taken but it would be a mistake to elevate them into propositions of law....................................................

I can well see how it came about that they country Court Judge made this mistake. He was presented with a number of cases in which judges of the High Court had given reasons for coming to their conclusions of fact. And those reasons seemed to him to be so expressed as to be rulings in point of law; whereas they were in truth nothing more than propositions of good sense. This is not the first time this sort of thing has happebed. Take accidents on the road, I remember well that in several cases scrutton L.J. said that"if a person rides in the dark he must ride at such a pace that he can pull up within the limits of "his vision" (Baker v. E. Longhurst & sons ltd. (1933) 2 KB 461, 468. That was treated as aproposition of law until the Court of appeal firmly ruled that it was not (Tidy v. Battman (1934) 1 KB 319). Morris v. Luton corporation - (1946) KB 114). So also with accidents in factories. I myself once said that an employer must, by his foreman, "do his best to "keep (the men) up to the mark" (Clifford v. Charies H. Challen & son Ltd) (1951) 1 KB 495 Someone shortly afterwards sought to treat me as having laid down a new proposition of law, but the Court of Appeal I am glad to say, corrected the error (Woods v. Durable suites Ltd. (1953) 1 WLR 857). Such cases all serve to bear out the warning which has been given in this House before ......"We sought "to beware of allowing tests or guides which have been suggested" by the Court in one set of circumstances, or in one class of "cases, to be applied to other surroundings " and thus by degrees to turn that which is at bottom a question of fact into a proposition of law that is what happened in the cases under the workmen's compensation Act, and it led to a wagon load of "cases", See harris v. Associated portland cement Manufacturers LTd. (1939) AC 71 by Lord Atkin. Let not the same thing happen to the common law, lest we be crushed under the weight of our own reports".

The   question  which  is the place  where   the husband   and  wife   last  resided  together is, in my opinion   not being    capable  of being   treated  as a question of law, I  consider the matter from an overall view  of the facts.



16.    In  this   case, the  finding of  fact is that the  parties  had lived  for six months at cuddapah  immediately  after  their  marriage  at Tirupathi.  The place of the permanent  residence  of venkata  subbaiah  is  cuddapah, Venkata  subbaiah  has agricultural   lands  there.  Presumably   he  conducts   agricultural  operations   from there which would  require   his constant  presence and attention  Unless  sareetha  suceeds in showing that she never lived with venkata  subbaiah at  cuddapah, the claim of cuddapah to be the  place of last residence in this case, cannot be rejected.  It is true  that sareetha say that she  never lived with venkata  subbaiah at cuddapah,  but this  point    was never  made  good  by her.  She never   argued  this  point  before  the Court below    nor is  that plea  proved  to its  satisfaction.  The  question  whether  she  lived   with venkata   subbaiah  at cuddapah or  not is a pure   question  of fact.  The finding   of the lower   Court on such a  question   of fact  cannot  be distribed  by  a  revisional Court. I am thus left with no option except  to accept  that finding Accepting the finding   of  the ocurt below  that sareetha and venkata  subbaiah  lived  together   at  cuddapah  for about a period   of six months after their  marriage  at Tirupathi  I hold  that cuddapah was the place where the parties had  last resided together    and the Madras   residence  is ineffectual  to displace  that cuddapah  residence and that accordingly the  Court of  the subordinate Judge.  Cuddapah, has  jurisdiction  to try the petition filed  by venkata  subbaiah  for   restitution of conjugal rights.

PART  II.

17.  This    leads me to the consideration of the other half of this case which raises an important  constitutional  question. Sareetha in her petition dated 31-8-1981  of which notice from this  Court had been duly   given  to and  served  upon  the Attorney   General  Of India,New Delhi raised for the  first  time a question of constitutional validity of section 9 of  the Hindu Marriage   Act.  Through  that  petition, sareetha  claimed that section 9 of the Act, "is liable to be struck  down as violative of the fundamental  rights in part III  of  the Constitution of India, more  particularly  articles 14, 19 and 21 inasmuch as the  statutory  relief  under  the said provision, namely restitution of conjugal  rights  offends  the guarantee to life,  personal  liberty and human dignity and decency'.  As  the  above  contention of sareetha  involves the question of constitutional validity of section 9 of the Act,  authorising  grant of curial relief  of  restitution of  conjugal rights to a Hindu suitor, I read section 9 of the Act in full and the  relevant  parts of its allied procedural provisions  contained in order 21 Rules 32 and 33 of the civil  procedure code.



Section 9: Restitution of conjugal rights:
"When  either the husband or the wife  has without reasonable excuse withdrawn from the society of the  other, the aggrieved  party may apply by petition to the district Court for  restitution  of conjugal   rights and the Court,  on being satisfied  the truth of the statements  made in such petition  and  that   there is no legal  ground  why the application should not be granted, may  decree restitution of conjugal rights  accordingly.

Explanation:  Where a question arises whether there has been reasonable excuse  for withdrawal from the society, the burden of proving  reasonable excuse shall be on the person who has withdrawn from the society".



Order 21 Rule 32 of C.P.c.  Decree for specific  performance for  restitution   of conjugal  rights,or for an injunction:

   

"(1) where the party against whom a decree for the specific performance of a contract, or for restitution of conjugal rights, or for an injunction, has been passed, has had an opportunity of obeying the decree and has wilfully failed to obey it, the decree may be enforced (in the case of a decree for restitution of conjugal rights by the attachment of his property, or in the case of a decree for the specific perofrmance of a contract, or for an injunction) by his detention in the civil prison, or by the attachment of his property, or by both.

(2)...................................................

(3) Where any attachment under subrule (1) or sub-rule (2) has remained in force for (six Months) if the Judgment-debtor has not obeyed the decree and the decree-holder has applied to have the attached property sold, such property may be sold; and out of proceeds the Court may award to the decree-holder such compensation as it thinks fit, and shall pay the balance (if any) to the judgment-debtor on his application.

(4) Where the Judgment-debtor has obeyed the decree, and paid all costs of executing the same which he is bound to pay, or where, at the end of (six months) from the date of the attachment on application to have the property sold has been made or if made has been refused, the attachment shall cease.

Rule 33. Discretion of ocurt in executing decrees for restitution of conjugal rights:

(1) Notwithstanding anything in R. 32, the Court either at the time of passing a decree (against a husband) for the restitution of conjugal rights or at any time afterwards may order that the decree (shall be executed in the manner provided in this rule).

(2)  Where  the Court  has made  an order   under sub-rule (1),  it may  order  that in the event of the decree  not being   obeyed  within such period  as may be fixed  in this  behalf, the  judgment-debtor  shall make to the decree-holder  such  periodical  payment  as may  be just  and if it  thinks  fit, require  that  the  judgment -debtor    shall, to its satisfaction   secure  to the decree-holder such periodical payment.



(3)  The Court may from time to time  vary or modify any order  made under sub-rule (2) for  the   periodical payment  of money,  either  by altering  the times  of  payment  or by increasing or diminishing   the amount, or  may   temporarily  suspend  the same  as to the  whole  or any part  of  the money so ordered to be paid  and  again  revive  the same, either wholly or in part as it  may  think  just.



(4)  Any  money  ordered to be paid  under  this rule  may  be recovered  as though it  were  payable  under  a decree for  the  payment   of money".



A combined   residing   of  the  above  substantive  and procedural  provisions relating  to the  grant  of relief  of  destitution   of conjugal  rights  by Court makes  it clear   that the    decree for restitution  of conjugal  rights    contemplated  to  the  granted   under section 9 of the  Act is intended by  hte    statutory law to be enforced   in   species   under O. 21  Rr. 32 and 33  by  applying financial  sanctions  against  the  disobeying  party.  Additionally  always  a Court can enforce  its decree  through its  contempt powers.  The  Judicial committee of the  privy council  in Moonshed  Buzloo Rhueem  v. Shumsoon  Nissa  Begum, (1867) 11 Moo  Ind  App 551, held  that a suit for restitution of conjugal   rights  filed by a Muslim  husband  was  rightly   filed  as a suit  for  specific  persormance  it is on  the same lines   that order 21 Rule  32  of the code of civil  procedure   speaks  of a decree granted   for  restriction     of conjugal   rights   as a  decree of  specific   performance  of restitution   of  conjugal   rights.  Conjugal   rights  connote  two  ideas.  (A)  "the   right    which husband   and  wife  have  to each other's  society   and   (b)   "marital  intercourse".  (See the  dictionary  of English  Law  by Earl  Jowitt P. 453)  In  Wily  v. Wily  (1918)   P. 1   "an   offer  by  the   husband   to live  under    the   same proof  with his  wife,  each   party  being  free from molestation by  the   other was held   not  an offer to matrimonial  cohabitation". (See   N. R.  Raghavachariar's  Hindu Law, 7th  Edn. Vol II p.  980.  Gupt's  Hindu  Law  of  Marriage P. 181  and derrett's  Introduction  to Modern  Hindu  Law  para  308).  In other  words, sexual  cohabitation is an inseparable  ingredient of a decree for restitution  of  conjugal  rights.  It  follows, therefore  that a decree  for restitution  of conjugal    rights  passed   by a civil Court  extends  not only to the  grant    of relief    to the decree holder   to the company of the  other spouse, but  also  embraces the  right to have marital intercourse  of the  enforcement of such a decree  are  firstly   to  transfer the choice  to have  or not  to  have marital  intercourse  to the state  from  the  concerned  individual  and secondly   to  surrender  the choice  of the individual  to allow or not to allow  one's  body  to be used   as a vehicle  for  another human  being's   creation   to the  state.  Relief  of restitution    of conjugal  rights fraught  with such serious  consequences  to the concerned, individual  were  granted under section 9 of the Act enables the decreeholder  through  application  of  financial  sanctions  provided  by  order  21 Rules  32  and 33  of C.P.C.  to have  sexual  cohabitation  with an  unwilling   party  even   by imprisonment in a civil   prison.  Now  compliance   of the unwilling   party  to such a  decree  is sought to be procured, by  applying   financial  sanctions  by attachment   and sale of the  property   of  the   recalcitrant party.  But  the purpose  of a decree  for restitution   of conjugal   rights   in the  past as it is in the  present remains   the saem which is to  coerce  through  judicial  process the unwilling party to have sex  against that person's  consent   and  freewill with  the  decree-holder.  There can be no doubt that  a  decree  of  restitution   of conjugal  rights  thus enforced offends the inviolability  of the body  and the mind   subjected to hte decree  and offends  the  integrity   of  such a  person and invades the marital  privacy and domestic intimacies  of  such a person  The  uninhibited  tragedy  involved   in granting  a decree  for  restitution  of conjugal    rights  is well illustrated by Anna  saheb  v. Tara  Bai . In that case,  Division  Bench of  the madhya  pradesh High Court decreed  the husband's  suit  for restitution of conjugal  rights observing   ":but if the husband is not guilty  of misconduct, a petition cannot  be dismissed merely  because    the wife   does   not like  her husband  or  does  not want  to  live  with him............."  What  could have happened to Tarabai  thereafter may well  be left  to the  eader's  imagination .  According  to law,  anna  saheb  against her  will.



18.    It  cannot be denied  that  among   the few   points    that  distinguish  human   existence from that of animals, sexual  autonomy an  individual  enjoys  to choose  his or  her partner to a sexual Act, is  of primary   importance.  Sexual   expression   is so integral to one's  personality that it is impossible to conceive  of sexuality  on  any basis  except  on the basis   of   consensual  participation    of   the opposite  sexes.  No relationship between man and woman  is more  rested  on mutual  consent and  freewill  and is more intimately  and  personally   forged  than sexual  relationship.  The  famous   legal definition of marriage   given  by Lord    penzance   in Hyde v. Hyde  (1866)  LR IP  & D  130 (Divorce  Court),  as a  voluntary   union   between   man  and   woman only highlights  this    aspect  of free association.  The  ennobling   quality  of  sex  of which havelock   ennobling  quality of  sex of  which havelock  Ellis  wrote  in his  studies    on  the   Psychology  of sex  ensues  out of  this freedom  of choice.  He  wrote  that "the  man experiences  the   highest    unfolding   of his   creative   powers  not   through  ascertism  but  through   sexual   happiness'.  Bertrand  Russell  who ought   to know  declared  that:

  "I  have sought  love,  first  because it brings   ecstasy-ecstasy so  great  that I   would often  have  sacrificied all the  rest  of life   for a few   hours  of this  Joy'.



Forced sex, like  all forced  things   is a  denial  of all  joy  yet  in  conceivable  cases   sex  and  statutorily  be denied  and even forbidden  by law   between  specified    groups   of persons.  But  no positive  Act of sex can  be forced   upon  the   unwilling  persons, because     nothing    can conceivably  be more  degrading  to   human  dignity  and monstrous  to human  spirit  than  to  subject a person   by  hte  long arm of hte law to a positive  sex Act.  The  restitution of  cnjugal   rights   by force  of arms  can be  more and can be no less than   what   late  sri Sri,  the greatest of  the Modern   Telugu  poets ,  described   in his poem  "Kavitha  as  "Rakshasa  Rathi".  The Act  of sex  requires  primarily   the  participation of mind  the researches    of  the modern psychology  had put  to rest  the cartesian dischotomy  that   has   separated  body  and mind  since  the 17th  centurt.  The researches  of Dr. George  solomon  of Univerity of california   led  him to  conclude  that "mind   and  body  are inseparable"   and that "the  brain  influences  all sorts   of physiological  processes that   were  once thought  not to be centrally  regulated".   And  that  "the brain  influences  all sorts  of physiological  processes that  were  once thought   not to be centrally   regulated".  Sex  Act  therefore, can never  be treated as a mere  Act of  body  that can be ordered to obey  by  the state.  The   coercive  Act of the state  compelling   sexual  cohabitation therefore, must  be regarded  as a great  constraint and torture imposed  on the   mind  of the unwilling  party.  The life of a man or woman  which the sovereign  can commandeer through the coercive  power  of the state  for  performing  an unwilling   Act  of   sexual  cohabitation  cannot but  be regarded  as  that  of a human  beast drained  of all spirituality.  In  Russel  v. Russel  (1897)   AC  395  Lord  herschell  long-ago noted the  barbarity  of this judicial   remedy.  He  observed, I think  the law  of restitution of conjugal    rights  as administered in the courts   did sometimes  lead to results which I can only call bardarous".



19. There is even graver implications for the wife. An Act of foerced sex is no less potent than an Act of consensual sex in producing pregnancy and procereating offspring. The only difference lies in the fact that the latter is with her consent while the former is without her consent. In the process of making such a fateful choice as to when where and how if at all she should beget, bear deliver and rear a child, the wife consistent with her human dignity should never be excluded, conception and delivery of a child involves the most intimate use of her body. The marvel of creation takes place inside her body and the child that would be born is of her own flesh and blood. In a matter which is so intimately concerns her body and which is so vital for her life, a decree of restitution of conjugal rights totally excludes her.

20. The origin of this remedy for restitution of conjugal rights is not to be found in the British common law it is the medieval Ecclesiastical law of England which knows no matrimonial remedy of desertion that provided for this remedy which the Ecclesiastical courts and later ordinary courts enforced. But the British Law commission presided over by Mr. Justice scarman, (as he then was) recommended recently on 9-7-1969 the abolition of this uncivilized remedy of restitution of conjugal rights accepting that recommendation of the British Law commission the British parliament through section 20 of the Matrimonial proceedings and property Act, 1970 abolished the right to claim restitution of conjugal rights in the English courts. Section 20 of that Act reads thus:

"No person shall after the commencement of this Act be entitled to petition the High Court or any country Court for restitution of conjugal rights".

But our ancient Hindu system of Matrimonial law never recognised this institution of conjugal rights althought it fully upheld the duty of the wife to surrender to her husband. In other words, the ancient Hindu law treated the duty of the Hindu wife to abide by her husband only as an imperfectobligation incapable of being enforced against her will . It left the choice entirely to the free will of the wife. In Bai Jiva v. Narsingh Lalbhai (ILR 1927 Bom 264 at p. 268) a division Bench of the Bombay High Court judicially noticed this fact in the following words:

"Hindu law itself even while it lays down the duty of the wife of implicit obedience and return to her husband, has laid down no such sanction or procedure as compulsion by the courts to force her to return against her will".

21. This could have been only because of its realisation that in a matter so intimately concerned the wife or the husband the parties are better left alone without state interference. What could happen to the fate of a person in the position of Tara Bai (the respondent in the abovementioned madhya pradesh Appeal) who was forced to go back to her husband even after declaration of dislike and abhorrence towards her husband could have been well considered by the ancient Hindu Law. With the Brithish occupation of this country the whole legal position was drastically altered. The British indian courts wrongly equating the Ecclesiastical rule of this matrimonial remedy with equity good conscience and justice, thoughtlessly imported that rule into our country and blindly enforced it among the Hindus and the Muslims. Thus, the origin of this uncivilised remedy in our ancient country is only recent and is wholly illegitimate. Section 9 of the Act had merely aped the british and mechanically reenacted that legal provision of the British Ecclesiastical origin. The plain question that arises is whether our parliament now functioning under the constitutional constraints of the fundamental rights conceived and enacted for the preservations of human dignity and promotion of personal liberty, can legally impose sexual cohabitation between unwilling opposite sexual partners even if it be during the matrimony of the parties.

22. The Hindu marriage Act was enacted by our parliament in the year 1955 and the legislative competence of the parliament to enact section 9 of the Act under item 5 of the List III of the VII schedule to the Constitution is undoubted. But the question is whether that provision runs foul of part III of the Constitution. The petitioner attacks section 9 of the Act on the ground that granting of restitution of conjugal rights violates the petitioner's rights guaranteed under articles 14, 19 and 21 of part III of our constitioner attacks section 9 of the Act on hte ground that granting of restitution of conjugal rights violates the petitioner's rights guaranteed under articles 14, 19 and 21 of part III of our Constitution. Let us, therefore, first examine the content of Article 21 Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees right to life and personal liberty against the state action. Formulated in simple negative terms, its range of operation positively any person of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure liberty except according to the procedure established by law is of far reaching dimensions and of overwhelming constitutional significance. Article 21 prevents the state from treting the human life as that of any other animal. It is now well established by the decisions of the Supreme Court that the word 'life' occuring in the above Article 21 has spiritual significance as the word life occuring in the famous 5th and 14th Amendments to the American Constitution does. In those constitutional provisions of the American Constitution the life is interpreted by Mr. Justice field in this dissenting judgment in Munn v. Illinois, (1877) 24 L Ed p. 17 to mean and signify "more than a person's right to lead animal or vegetative existence. Field J., said in the above munn's case "by the term life as here used something more is meant than mere animal existence". The contrast drawn by field J., emphasising the difference between existence of a free willing human and that of an unfree animal was accepted by our Supreme Court first in kharak singh v. State of U.P. and next in Govind v. State of M.P. transforming Article 21 of our Constitution into a charter for civilization In Kharak singh v. State of U.P. (supra) Rajagopala Ayyangar J., for the majority and subba Rao, J., for the concurring miniority accepted the above meaning and significance given to the word 'life' by observing that the expression life' used in that Article cannot be confined only to the taking away of life, that is causing death." Subbarao J., in the same case gave greater importance to the words "personal liberty", occuring in Article 21 of the Constitution. But both held that Art. 21 of our Constitution to be the source for the protection of our personal liberty and life in the elevated sense. Subbarao J., perceptively observed that right to privacy forms a part of the guaranteed right of personal liberty in Art. 21 of the constitution. In a scientific age, psychological fears and restraints generated by the use of scientific methods, he feared, may constitute even greater denial of personal liberty then mere crude physical restrainsts of a bygone age.

23. In a later decision of the Supreme Court in Govind v. State of M.P. , (supra) Mathew J., taking the lead given by the minority Judgment of subbarao j.,in the abovementioned Kharak singh's case and adverting to the american legal and philosophical literature on right to privacy and to the american cases reported in Griswold v. Connecticut, (1965) 14 L Ed 2 d 510 and Jane Roe v. Henry wade, (1973) 35 L Ed 2d p. 147 ruled that Article 21 of our Constitution embraces the right to privacy and human dignity. The centrepiece of the judgment in Govind's case is to hold that right to privacy is part of art. 21 of our Constitution and to stress its constitutional importance and to call for its protection. The learned Judge then examined the content of the right to privacy and observed that "any right to privacy must encompass and protect the personal intimacies of the home, the family, marriage motherhood, procreation and child rearing." The learned Judge stressed the primordial importance of the right to privacy for human happiness and directed the ocurts not to reject the privacy-dignity claims brought before them except where the countervailing state interests are shown to have overweighing importance. He observed that "there can be no doubt that the makers of our Constitution wanted to ensure conditions favourable to the pursuit of happiness. They certainly realised as Brandies J., said in his dissent in Olmstead v. United states of America, (1927-277 US 438, 471) the significance of man's spiritual nature of his feelings and of hisintellect and that only a part of the pain, pleasure satisfaction of life can be found in material things and therefore they must be deemed to have conferred upon the individual as against the Government a sphere where he should be left alone". The learned Judge also stated "there can be no doubt that privacy-dignity claims deserve to be examined with care and to be denied only when an important countervailing interest is shown to be superior". Govind's case (Supra) thus firmly laid it down that Article 21 protects the right to privacy and promotes the individual dignity mentioned in the preamble to our Constitution . Govind's case also lays it down that the ocurts should protect and up-hold those important constitutional rights except where the claims of those rights for protection are required to be subordinated to superior state interests.

24. However it must be admitted that the concept of right to privacy does not lend itself to easy logical definition This is so partly because as Tom Gaiety said in his Article "Redefining privacy" (12 Harv civ Rts. - Civ. Lib rev p. 233,) the concept was thrown up in great haste from a miscellany of legal rock and staone and partly because of the inherent difficulties in defining such an elusive concept. The difficulty arises out of the fact that this concept is not unitary concept but is multidimensional susceptiable more for enumeration than definition. But it can be confidently asserted that any plausible definition of right to privacy is boudn to take human body as its first and most basic reference for control over personal identity. Such a definition is bound to include body's inviolability and integrity and intimacy of personal identity including marital privacy A few representative samples would bear this out. Gaiety defined privacy as "an autonomy or control over the intimacies of personal identity." Richard B. Panker in his " A definition of privacy", quoted in "philosophy and public Affairs" (1975 Vol 4 No. 4 p. 295-314 wrote:

"...............Privacy is control over when and by whom the various parts of us can be sensed by tohers. By "sensed" is meant simply seen, heard touched smelled or tasted".

Gary L. Bostwick writing in california Law review Vol. 64 P. 1447 suggests that "privacy is divisible into three components (a) repose (b) sanctuary and (c) intimate decisions of these three components he holds, that the last one is an eminently more dynamic privacy concept as compared to repose and sanctuary (P. 1466) prof. Tribe in his American constitutional Law. P. 921. Stressed another fundamental facet of the right to privacy problem. He wrote, inter alia.

  "Of  all decisions a person makes  about   his or her  body the most profound  and intimate relates   to two sets  of questions   first, whether   when  and  how one's body  is to  become  the vehicle    for  another   human  beings  cration".



25.Applying   these definitional aids  to our discussion it cannot but be admitted that a decree  for restitution of conjugal  rights  constitutes  the grossest  from of violation  of an individual's  right  to  privacy  applying  Prof.  Tribe's  definition of right to privacy, it   must  be  said that the decree  for restitution of  conjugal  rights    denies  the woman her free  choice  whether   when and  how her  body is to become  the vehicle  for the  procreation  of another  human   being  applying  parker's  defintion, it  must be said  that a decree for  restitution of conjugal  rights    deprives  a woman   of control  over  her choice as to when  and by whom the various  parts  of her body  should be allowed to be sensed.  Applying  the tests  of gaiety and Bostwick,  it  must  be said,  that the  woman loses   her control  over her most intimate decisions clearly, therefore, the right  to privacy  guaranteed by Art. 21  of our  Constitution is flagrantly  violated  by  a decree of restitution of  conjugal  rights.



26.  A  few   decided  American  cases  have also taken  the same view  of the constitutional right  to privacy  in that country.



  27.  The observations of Justice Mc  reynolds in Meyer v. Nebraska,  (1923)  67 L Ed  1042 highlight   certain    facets  of  this  right  to privacy.  There the  learned  Judge  observed:

  "Without  doubt, it denotes  not merely  freedom  from   bodily   restraint  but  also  the right   of any individual  to contract, to engage  in any of the common  occupations of life, to acquire useful  knowledge to marry establish   a home and bring  up children to worship   God   according  to the dictates of  his own  conscience, and  generally  to enjoy  those privileges   long recognised at common  law  as   essential  to the orderly  pursuit of  happiness  by free  men.............  ..............  ..............   The established   doctrine   is  that  this  liberty  may not  be interfered  with   under   the guise   of protecting   the public  interest, by  legislative    action   which is  arbitrary or  without   reasonable  relation  to some  purpose  within the competency  of the  state to effect".



In  Griswold v. Connecticut, (1965)  14  L Ed 2d  510  Mr.  Justice  Douglas, while   invalidating  a connecticut  statute  which made the use of contraceptives a criminal    offence, wrote  for  the Court that  "this   law,  however   operates  directly   on an intimate relation  of husband  and  wife and  their  physician's  role  in one aspect ot that relation......",  implying   that the right  to privacy   encompasses  within  itself    intimate relationships    such as those  between husband  and wife about  the use of  contraceptives.  Of   course, the question  from where  this  right  to privacy   should  be derived  gave  rise to different  answers  in that case.  Mr. Justice  Douglas in Griswold  v. Connecticut,   (1965-14 L ed  2d 510)  has found  penumbral  areas  of specific  guarantees  in the bill  of Rights  as  providing   the basis  for the  right   of  privacy  .  But  Mr.  Justice  Goldberg  wrote, in that case  highlighting in the process the theoretical  confusions in the stitution that the right  of marital privacy   falls   within the category  right  to privacy  Griswold's   case is in   authority for  the   proposition     that the   reproductive choice  to beget  and bear  a child  does not  belong   to the state   and that belongs   to an individual.  In  jane  Roe.  V.  Henry   wade,  (1973)  35 L Ed  2d  147  Mr.  Justice   Blackmun  for hte Court   observed   that the earlier   decisions of the american  Supreme Court held that only  personal  rights   that can be  deemed  fundamental"   or implicit  in the concept  of  ordered liberty"......... are   included  in this guarantee of personal  privacy   they  also  make  it clear that  the right has some extension   to activities  relating to marriage.........procreation,  contraception,  family  relationships, and  child  rearing   and education........."

  "Yet   the marital  couple  is not an independent  entity  with a mind    and heart   of its    own but an  association of two  inviduduals each with  a  separate intellectual  and emotional   make up.  If  the   right of privacy   means  anything, it is   the right  of the INDIVIDUAL , married    or single,  to be free  from unwanted   Government  intructing    a person as the  decision  whether   to bear  or beget  a  child".



This is a clear recognition   of the legal  position that  right  to privacy  belongs  to a person   as an individual    and is not lost by marital  association.  In  planned   parenthood   of Missouri v. Danforth,   (1976-49  L ed 2d  788)  the Court reiterated  the position    taken   by  the  American   Supreme Court  in Eisenstadt v. Barid   (1972)  405 US   438)  (supra) that  the  right    to privacy   belongs to each one of the  married   couple    separately   and is not lost by reason of their    marriage.  The    Court   observed,  invalidating a statutory   condition, that the husband's  consent is  necessary  for termination  of pregnancy,  "We  cannot  hold  that  the  state   has  constitutional   authority to give   a spouse    unilaterally  the ability   to prohibit  a wife from   terminating her pregnancy'.  The Court  further   observed  that "Inasmuch  as it is the woman  who physically  bears  the child   and   who is  the  more  directly  and immediately    affected  by the  pregnancy,  as between the two, the  balance weight in her  favour".  Earlier in skinner v. Oklahoma, (1941-86  L  Ed  1655)  the American Supreme Court characterised the right  to reproduce  as one of the  basic  civil   rights  of man.  In  the same  case Justice  Jakson  spoke  of the state interference with reproductive   decisions   as  involving  dignity  and personality.  See aslo  the decisions in Loving  v. Virginia, (1967-18 L Ed  2d 1010) and Zablocki v. Redhall, (1978) 54 L ed 2d  618).



28.  The above cases of the American Supreme Court clearly establish  the  proposition that  the reproductive  choice  is fundamental to an individual's   right  to privacy.  They  uphold   the individual's  reproductive    autonomy  against the state   intrusion  and forbid  the  state from   usurping  that right  without  overwhelming  social   justification.  That this   right belongs even to a married woman  is  clear from justice  Brennan's  opinion  quoted  above.  A wife  who is  keeping  away  from her husband, because   of permanent or even temporary   estrangement   cannot be forced,  without  violating her right  to privacy to bear   a child  by her  husband.  During   a time  when she is probably   contemplating an action for divorce, the  use and enforcement of section 9 of the Act against the estranged  wife can irretrievably  alter  her position   by  bringing about  forcible  conception   permanently  ruining   her mind   body  and life and everything   connected with it.  During  a moment's  duration  the  entire  life-style   would be altered  and  would even  be destroyed  without  her    consent.  If that  situation made possible   by this    matrimonial remedy  is not to be a violation of individual   dignity and right to privacy guaranteed by our Constitution and more  particularly Art 21,  it is not conceivable  what else  could be a violation of Article 21 of our  Constitution.



29.  Examining the validity of S. 9 of the Act in  the light  of the above  discussion, it should be held, that a Court decree  enforcing  restitution of conjugal  right  constitutes  the  starkest  form  of Government  invasion  of personal  identity  and individual's  zone  of  intimate  decisions.  The  victim is stripped of its  control  over the various   parts of its  body    subjected  to the humiliating sexual   molestation accompanied by a  forcible loss of the precious  right  to decide    when if at all  her  body  should be allowed  to be used to give  birth  to another   human  being.  Clearly the victim  loses  its  autonomy  of control  over  intimacies  of personal  identity.  Above  all,  the  decree for restitution of conjugal   rights  makes  the unwilling victim's  body a  soulless and a  joyless vehicle  for bringing into  existence another  human being.  In other  words,  pregnancy  would  be foisted on her   by  the  state and  against her will.  There can therefore  be little  doubt  that  such  a law  violates  the right to privacy  and human  dignity  guaranteed by and contained  in Article   21  of our  Constitution.  It is of constitutional significance  to note  that the ancient Hindu  society  and its culture   never approved such a  forcible marital  intercourse.  Our  ancient law-givers refused  to recognize   any state interests  in forcing unwilling sexual   cohabitationbetween  the husband  and wife  although they  held   the duty of the  wife to  surrender to the  husband almost absolute.  Recently  the British  law commission  headed by Mr.  Justice  scarman also found  no superior state interests  implicated in retaining this  remedy   on the British   statute  Book.  It is  wholly  with out any  social  purpose.  State coercion  of  this   nature   can neither  prolong nor preserve the voluntary  union  of husband and wife  in matrimony.   Neither  state coercion cna soften  the  ruffled  fellings  nor clear the misunderstandings    between the  parties.   Force can only bebet  force as action  can only produce   counter-actions   the  only usefulness  in  obtaining a decree  for restitution  of conjugal  rights   consists   in providing  evidence for subsequent    action  for divorce. But   this  usefulness of the remedy  which can be  obtained only at enormous   expense to human   dignity cannot be  counted as outweighing the interests in upholding  the  right to privacy   It is  only after   considering   the various   factors   that hte  scarman  commission  recommended  for the  abolition   of this     matrimonial  remedy    in england   and the British  parliament  enacted a law  abolishing it.  It is  therefore legitimate  to conclude  that there are no  overwhelming   state  interests  that  would  justify  the sacrificing of the individual's  precious  constitutional right  to privacy.

Re: T. Sareetha v. Venkata Subbaiah - RCR

30.  Duncan Derrett in his  "modern  Hindu Law"  para  306  however, while   approving the abolition of  this  remedy  in England  advocated for  somewhat  strange  reasons  the continuance  of this  remedy  in India.  He  wrote  that"...............  The  practical   utility  of the remedy  is   little  in contemporary  England".  He  however says,  that:

  "In  India, where spouses  separate  at times  due to misunderstandings,  failure   of mutual   communication, or the  intrigues  of relatives, the  remedy  of restitution is still  of of considerable value  especially  when coupled  with the right under section 491  of hte criminal  procedure  code  to  recover    (under certain circumstances0  custody  of  a  minor   bride,  and in the  light   of the rule  that where restitution  has been ordered a decree for separate maintenance cannot  without   proof  of new facts, issue  in favour of  the  respondent".



With respect I am  unable  to agree with this recommendation  Firstly  Derrett  did not  examine  the matter  from the constitutional point  of view  of   right  to  privacy   guaranteed  by Art.  21  of  the  Constitution.  Restitution   of conjugal  rights  is  an  instance of punishing  a criminal without  a victim.  Secondly   his  remedy  of restitution  of conjugal    rights  is not  only   execussive  but is  also  inappropriate.  As  Telugu   proverb says, it is  like   setting   fire  to a house  to burn   it so  is not the appropriate   way to  bring  about  reconciliation  between the estranged wife and  husband .  the  observations   of Justice  Blackmun  in the  above  planned  parenthood's   case, (1976-49  L Ed  2d  788)  are  worthy  of  note  in this  connection.  He  observed:

"But  it is   difficult to   believe  that the goal  of  fostering mutuality  and trust  in a marriage  and of strengthening  the  marital  relationship  and the marriage    institution, will be acheived by giving  the husband a veto  power   exercisable  for  any reason   whatsoever or for no reason at all.  Even  if the  state had the  ability  to delegate to the husband  a power   it itself   could not exercise,  it is  not at all   likely   could not exercise, it is  not at all  likely    that such action   would  further as the district  Court majority   phrased  it the  interest of the state in  protecting   the mutuality   of decisions vital  to the   marriage  reltionship.



I  therfore  hold  that  there are no  overwhelming   state  interests to justify  the  subordination  of the valuable  right  to privacy  to any  state interests.

31.  On the  basis of my  findings  that section 9 of the Hindu  Marriage  Act  providing for the  remedy   of  restitution  of conjugal   rights  violates   the right  to  privacy  guaranteed   by art. 21  of the  Constitution, I wil   have  to hold  that section 9 of the Hindu   Marriage Act is constitutionally  void.  Any  statutory  provision  that abridges  any  of the rights   guaranteed by part  III  of the contitution will  have  to  be dec;ared  void  in terms  of Article 13  of the  Constitution.   But the  earlier   decisions  of the Supreme Court,    particularly  the earliest in Gopalan's  case  , had  narrowly  interpreted  the language  of Article  21  of  the Constitution as merely  requiring a statutory  procedure  to be provided  or established  .  if  the validity  of section 9 of the Act  were to be  considered on  that  basis, I would  have  been left   no  option   except  to   uphold    its  validity.


32.    The  protection to life  and  personal liberty contained in Art. 21 of our Constitution is confined  by Gopalan's    interpretation  only to  the  executive  action   taken    without  the  backing  of  a supporting    statutory   law  providing   for   procedure.  In other   words    the  efficacy  of that Article  as a fundamental  right is    almost  denuded  becaus e  taking   of  life  or personal  liberty  according    to  the  procedure  established by a  legislative  enactment   is rendered by  that interpretation    constitutionally  unobjection-able under  that   Article.    Thus   interpreted, Article 21  offers no protection against  legislative  action.   The  cook  of  Bishop  of Rochester could still  be boiled to death, because  the parliament  ordained  that Given  that meaning, Article  21  would have been left  with no  constitutional  mission  to subserve,  because    a constitutional limitation   imposed  in the  form of a fundamental is needed  not  against the  arbitrary   exercise   of  legislative   power.   Under  our  system of  jurisprudence, where   the executive   would   be ineffective to  deprive     any person    of  his life    or personal  liberty  except   under the authority   of legislative   sanction   even  in  the   absence   of a fundamental right.  A fundamental right which  mainly    operates  against  an executive  action  would be purposeless. Yet  this is clearly  the interpretation of Art. 21  that commended  itself   to Gopalan's  case .  Added to  that is  the rule  laid  down   by Gopalan's    case  to the effect    that  each  fundamental right  in Part  III of  the Constitution is a constitutional island  to itself.  According  to  this  interpretation,  the state action, in order to be  valid,  need  not  pass the test  of cumulative  prohibition  contained in the relevant  fundamental rights.


33.  In both  these  aspects  the rule in Gopalan's  case  was found  to be  unsatisfactory  almost  from its inception.  These  rules  are  therefore  considerably  modified  by  the  later   decisions of hte Supreme Court in  such as those rendered   in the Banks   Nationalisation case,    and maneka   Gandhi's   case,  .  In  sunil  Batra  v.   Delhi  Administration,   while dealing  with the  question as to whether  a person awaiting  death   sentence  can be kept   in solitary  confinement, Krishna Iyer J.,  said:

  "That  though our  Constitution  did not  have  a "due  process"  clause as in the American Constitution, the same consequence  ensued    after  the decisions in the Bank nationalisation  case and  Maneka   Gandhi   case.  For  what is  punitively  outrageous,  Scandalizingly  unusual  or cruel  and  rehabilitatively  counter-productive  is unarguably  unsual  or cruel  and rehabilitatively  counter-productive, is  unarguably  unreasonable and arbitrary  and is  shot  down by articles 14 and 19 and if  inflicted with procedural unfairness, falls  foul  of Article  21."


In the same case Desai J.,  observed  that:


The  word  'law  in the  expression  procedure  established by law' in Article 21  has been  interpreted  to mean  in  maneka  Gandhi's   case  that  the  law must  be right   just and fair  and not arbitrary  fanciful  or oppressive   otherwise,  it would  be no procedure  at all and the  requirement  of Article 21  would  not be  satisfied.  If   it  is  arbitrary,   it would  be violative    of Article 14".

The above   quotations are taken  from Mithu v. State of Punjab   which   referred  to those  observations with  approval.

34.  In Mithu  v. State   of Punjab  (supra)  the Supreme Court  went   even farthest  where  it  struck  down  S. 303  I.P.c.  on the ground  that  that section   violated not  only  Article  14  but  even  Article  21.  The Supreme Court while   approvingly  referring   to the  above     quotations  observed  in  Mithu's  case  that:

  "These  decisions have  expanded the  scope  of Article  21  in a significant way   and  it is now  too late in the day  to  contend  that  it is  for   the legislature  to  prescribe    the procedure  and for the  legislature to provide  the punishment and for the  courts to impose it".

Explaining   the scope  of expansion  which  Article  21  has undergone  by reason of Bank  Nationalisation   case   and Maneka  Gandhis  case   the  Supreme Court  in Mithu's  case  declared:

  "If  a law were  to provide  that the offence of theft   will be  punishable with the penalty of  the  cutting of  hands,  the   law  will be bad as violating   Article  21.  A savage  sentence is anathema  tothe civilized  jurisprudence  of Article  21".



In  Mithu's  case the Supreme Court implied that imposition  of death  sentence  even under  section 302 I.P. C. Would have been  held in Bachan  singh's  case   invalid and ultra vires    of the  protection guaranteed by Article   21 if the parliament had not provided  for alternative sentences of life   imprisonment  and death sentence  but  provided  for  only a mandatory  death   sentence. A mandatory death sentence would  then have been shot  down  by  the   civilized   jurisprudence  of Article 21.  Now  savagery  of a death sentence  is more  an  attribute  of substantive  law.  In    Mithu's  case ,  Chinnappa Reddi, J.,  ascribed  the   whole  of his  concurrence  to Article  21.  The reasoning  of our Supreme Court in Mithu's  case comes  very close to the  reasoning   adopted  by  the   American   Supreme Court in cases like    Lambert  v. California  (1957)2 L Ed 2d 228  decided,  upon  the basis  of substantive   due  process  clause.  In Lambert  v.  California  (supra)  the American  Supreme Court invalidating a state   criminal    law held  that:

  "Where a person did not knwo  of the duly  to register and where there was no proof  of the  probability  of such  knowledge, he  may  not be convicted  consistently  with  due  process".



After   Mithu's   case, it is not easy  to  assert  that Article  21  is  confined  any   longer   to procedural  protection only.  Procedure  and substance  of law now  comingle    and overlap  each other, to  such a  degree  rendering  that a finding  of any law  that can  competently   establish a  valid   procedure  for the enforcement of a savage  punishment impossible.



35.  In a imperfect  word  where  the  clash  of competing  interests is  the  only  certainly   where  issues  are therefore   inherently complex,  where  judges  are falliable, and where  man-made  institutions have  limits  solutions to problems  will inevitably   be less than  optimum (see- preface  to chase  and Ducat's   "constitutional  Interpretation"  (second  edition). In   its  search  to   recognize  the true  boundaries    between  the individual  and the community  constitutional  theory   should   therefore  be open- ended   without  its categories  being   permanently   closed.  (See paul  A.  Freund   "on  Law   and Justice"   page  163).

  "Each   new  claim  to constitutional  protection  must   be cnsidered  against  a   background  of  constitutional  purposes, as  they have  been rationally   perceived  and historically   developed.  Though  we exercise  limited and sharply restrained  Judgment  yet  thereis no "mechanical  Yardstick",  to  mechanical  answer".  The  decision  of an apparently   novel  claim  must   depend   on grounds    which  follow closely  on well-accepted  principles   and criteria.   The new decision  must take  its place in relation to what went  before and  further (cut) a channel   for   (1953)  347 US  128, 147   98  L. Ed   561  578      74  S ct  381   9dissenting   opinion)   the  matter was  well   put  in Rochin  v. California,  (1951)  342   US  165, 170 171  96 L. Ed  183,  188, 189:72   s. Ct205 :25  ALR  2d  1396".



(Justice  Harlan,  in, poe v. Ullman,  (1916)  6 Led 2d p. 989 at 1020).



The constitutional doctrine  of privacy  is not   only  life giving   but also is lifesaving.  It gives spiritual meaning  to life which sankara   described as emanation of Brahman  and saves such a life from "inhuman  and degrading treatment"  of  forcible   sexual cohabitation.   (Art 5 of  the Universal Declaration of Human  Rights)  (see  also  the Right  to be let  alone  by  K.K.  Mathew,  ( Journal  section)  and also "torture   and the   right  to human  Dignity"  by paras diwan  , (1981)  4 SCC  p. 31 (journal  section).   Nothing   much   that is reasonable    in my  opinion  can be urged  in  support  of this   barbarous  remedy  that forces  sex at  least   upon   one of the  unwilling   parties.



36.  Following  the reasonaing adopted  in the above  mithu's  case, section 9 of  the  Hindu  marriage Act,  should be declared as unconstitutional  for  the  reason that the  remedy  of  restitution of conjugal  rights  provided  for by  that section  is a savage   and  barbarous  remedy, violating  the  right  to  privacy   and human  dignity guaranteed by Article 21 of our  Constitution.



37.   The constitutional validity of section 9 of hte Act when examined on the touch-stone  of equal  protection of laws  also  leads to  a conclusion  of its invldity.  This is  so because  of two  reasons.   Firstly, section 9 of the Act does not  satisfy the traditional classification test.  Secondly  it fails    to pass the test  of minimum  rationality  required  of any  state  Law.



38.   Of  course  section 9 of  the  Act does not in form  offend  the classification  test.  It makes  no discrimination between a husband  and  wife.  On the  other hand,  by making  the remedy  of restitution of  conjugal  rights   equally  available both  to  wife and husband, it  apparently   satisfies the equality test.  But  th requirements of equal protection of laws  contained   in  Article  14  of  the  Constitution  are not met with that apparent though  majestic   equality  at which anatole France mocked.  Our  Supreme Court declared that:

  "Bare equality of treatment regardless  of  the inequality of realities   is neither justice   nor homage  to the constitutional  principle".
(See M. Match  works  v. Asst. Collector  ).


The  question  is  how  this remedy  works  in life  terms  In our   social reality,  this matrimonial remedy   is found  used  almost  exclusively by  the  husband   and  is rarely  resorted to by  the   wife.  A passage in Gupte's  Hindu law  in Brilish India' page 929 (second edition)  attests to this   fact.  The  learned  author   recorded   that although  the rights  and duties  which marriage  creates  may be enforced by either spouse against  the other and not  exclusively  by  the   husband  agianst the  wife; a suit  for   restitution  by   the wife  is rare".

The reason for  this  mainly lies in the fact of hte differences    beween  the man and the woman  .  by enforcing  a decree for restitution   of conjugal  rights   the life  pattern  of the wife is  likely  to be altered irretrievable   whereas the husband's  can remain  almost as  it was  before  this is so because it is the wife  who  has to beget  and bear a child.  This  practical  but  the inevitable  consequence of the enforcement of this remedy  cripples  the wife's   future   plans  of life  and prevents  her  from  using  that self-destructive   remedy.  Thus   the use  of remedy  of restitution   of conjugal   rights  in  reality  becomes   partial   and one-sided  and available  only to the husband.  The  pledge  of  equal  protection  of laws   is thus inherently  incapable   of being   fulfilled by this   matrimonial remedy  in our   Hindu  society.  As a result  this  remedy  words  in practice  only as an engine of oppression to be  operated by the husband for  the  benefit  of the husband against the wife.  By treating  the wife and the husband  who are  inherently  unequal  as equals, section 9 of  the Act offends the rule  of equal  protection of laws.  For  that  reason  the  formal  equality  that section  9 of  the Act  ensures  cannot be   accepted  as constitutional.  Section 9 of the Act should therefore  be struck  down  as violative  of Article 14 of the Constitution.

39. Section 9 of the Act has also to be examined fo rits constitutional validity from the point of view of the test of minimum rationality. The American constitutional writes and Court decisions on the equality clause of the American 14th Amendment recognize the inadequacies of the mere classification theory of minimum rationality not merely as an additional test to the above theory of classification but even as basic to the whole of the 14th Amendment. Writing for a division Bench of this Court in A. Laxmana Murthy v. State (aIR 1980 Andh pra 293 at 298) I expressed our view of inadequacies of the theory of classification in these words:-

'Hitler's classification of all jews into a separate category for purposes of butchering them and Nazalities' classification of all landlords into a separate category for purpose of exterminating them cannot, therefore be faulted on this theory of equal protection clause".

Our Supreme Court had accepted the theory of minimum rationality in E.P. Royappa v. Tamil Nadu in the following words:-

"From a positivistic point of view equality is antithetic to arbitrariness. In fact equality and arbitrariness are sworn enemies, one belongs to the rule of law in a republic while the other to the whim and caprice of an absoulte monarch. Where an Act is arbitrary it is implicit in it that it is enequal both according to political logic and constitutional law and is therefore violative of Article 14". ........They require that state action must be based on valent relevant principles applicable alike to all similarly situate and it must not be guided by any extraneous or irrelevant considerations because that would be denial of equality".

But our Supreme Court called the test as test of arbitrariness and followed it in the subsequent decisions in maneka Gandhi case and the International Air port case , and Ajay Hasia v. Khalid Mujib and Air India v. Nergesh The theory of minimum rationality test which is heavily criticised by seervai in his latest constitutional Law, 3rd Edition page 272 is described by prof. Tribe as requiring all legislation to have "a legislative public purpose or set of purposes based on some conception of general good". (See his American constitutional Law, page 995) Examined from this point of view, it is clear that whether or not section 9 of the Hindu marriage Act suffers from the vice of over-classification as suggested in the preceding paragraph it promotes no legitimate public purpose based on any conception of the general good. It has already been shown that section 9 must thereofe be held to be arbitrary and void as offending art. 14 of the consitution.

40. In the view I have taken of the constitutional validity of section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, I declare that section 9 is null and void. As a corollary to that declaration, I hold that O.P. No. 1 of 1981 on the file of subordinate Judge, cuddapah, filed by venkata subbaiah for the relief of restitution of conjugal rights with sareetha is legally incompetent. Accordingly, I prohibit the Court of the subordinate Judge, cuddapah from trying O.P. No. 1/81.

41. The civil Revision petition is allowed, but without costs.

42. Revision allowed.