The Supreme Court has said that a husband cannot force his wife to stay with him if she does not want to, PTI reported on Sunday. “She is not a chattel,” said justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta. “You [man] cannot force her. She does not want to live with you. How can you say that you will live with her?”

The woman had lodged a criminal case against the husband and sought divorce on grounds of cruelty, but her husband said he wanted to live with her. The court asked the man to re-consider his decision.

“How can he be so unreasonable?” the court asked the lawyer appearing for the man. “He is treating her as a chattel. She is not an object.”

The court had earlier referred their case for mediation, and will hear the matter next on August 8.