Delhi HC: Roka custom, A Social Evil!

Recently, While ruling an appeal filed by a woman against the decree of divorce granted by a family court, The Delhi High Court remarked that Roka, a pre-wedding ceremony as “a social evil which needs to be condemned”

Roka, a ceremony which have been predominantly practiced by Punjab for years and years now, on account of having the first, formal agreement of the wedding, where in the families of the bride and groom exchange gifts in the pretext of stopping from looking any further for a suitable mate.

The Delhi High Court condemns the ceremony that goes back approximately 25 years ago, Bench of Justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Pratibha Rani remarked that under this outdated ceremony, “a couple is treated as a kind of a chattel and its significance is that on the account of money given by the family of the female to the male, it is conveyed to the society that neither would henceforth scout for a life partner – the search for a life partner is stopped: Roka. It is a social evil which needs to be condemned. It entails useless expenditure and in many cases, becomes the source of future bickering.”

As per the plea, the marriage between the two took place in 2006. The next year, a son was born. But, “unfortunately, circumstances overtook him, the wife then left the matrimonial house, with the infant son, on the ground that her husband was an alcoholic. Alcoholism led to bouts of depression in him. He did not take the antidepressants that were prescribed to him. Therefore, he became irritable, and prone to anger at the drop of a hat which later led him to be abusive towards her,” the court noted.

The bench, set aside the divorce granted to the husband on grounds of cruelty and desertion, and observed that there is “a lot of exaggeration in divorce petitions and probably the reason is a feeling that unless the other spouse is painted black the chances of success are meagre”.

Regarding the allegations and counter allegations of cruelty raised by the couple, the bench also observed that “the propensity is to throw all and sundry at the opposite party hoping that something would stick. The same is the story in the instant case”

“We bring down the curtains by holding that neither cruelty nor desertion has been proved. The girl’s desire to live with her husband has been established through her testimony and admissions made by the husband, provided he takes antidepressants,” the Bench added.

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