The Gauhati High Court has granted a divorce to a man on the ground that a woman’s refusal to wear shakha, or conch shell bangles, and to apply sindoor after her wedding is an indication that she does not intend to be a part of the marriage alliance, Live Law reported on Monday. Compelling the husband to stay married to the woman under such circumstances may be construed to be harassment inflicted upon him and his family, it added.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ajai Lamba and Justice Soumitra Saikia made the observations while hearing a matrimonial plea filed by the husband, which challenged a family court order that had rejected his claim for a divorce.

Setting aside the family court’s order, the bench claimed that under the rituals and customs of Hinduism, a married woman’s refusal to wear the shakha and sindoor means she is either unmarried or that she refuses to accept the alliance with her husband. “Such a categorical stand of the respondent [the wife] points to the clear intention that she is unwilling to continue her conjugal life with the appellant [the husband],” the high court said in the judgement passed on June 19.

The court further observed that the woman had refused to live with her husband’s family and had forced him to provide her a separate accommodation, which may be “construed as an act of cruelty”. “The family court [while passing the judgement] had completely ignored the fact that the woman compelled and prevented her husband from performing his statutory duties towards his aged mother under the provisions of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007,” the judges said.

The couple had married on February 17, 2012. However, they soon began living separately after she refused to live with her husband’s family members, according to NDTV.

The court said the woman had also lodged a police complaint against her husband and his family members accusing them of torturing her, but the allegation of subjecting her to cruelty was not sustained. “It is evident that there will be no purpose served to keep the marriage alive as there was no matrimonial harmony between the parties to be reached,” it added.