It is mandatory for court to hold enquiry in petition for annulment of marriage if wife is suffering from mental illness
Seema Ambadas Khedkar Vs Ambadas Jagannath Khedkar
Bombay HC, Aurangabad Bench
2019(3) MHLJ 384 : Second Appeal No. 284 of 2018
About/from the judgment:
After considering the various rulings cited before me and referred herein above, I have no doubt that both the Courts below erred in completely overlooking the provisions of Order 32 Rule 15 which are mandatory in nature. If those provisions are not followed and a decree is passed against a person having mental disorder, it would be nullity. It will not be proper not to interfere even when both Courts below have passed Judgments and orders which amount to nullity. Both the Courts below were bound to hold enquiry as contemplated under Order 32 Rule 15. When any plaint or petition is filed by a person either himself or through next friend, claiming himself to be a person suffering from mental infirmity or suit is filed by a person against a defendant or respondent, who is alleged to be suffering from mental infirmity, it is bounden duty of the Court to hold enquiry in this regard.
17. Giving opportunity of hearing should be meaningful and with a purpose. If a person is too poor to appoint a lawyer, unless legal aid is given to him, he cannot defend himself. Similarly, giving opportunity of hearing to a person suffering from mental illness, is giving him no opportunity unless he is given the assistance of a Guardian-at-litem, who can take care of this defence. It may be that a person may not appear to be mentally insane sometimes, If he is having lucid attacks at intervals. When he is not having such attacks, he may look perfectly normal, but whenever, he is having attack, he would be incapable of defending himself. Even in such cases, Order 32 Rule 15 must be strictly complied. Otherwise, a person looking normal, may contest the proceedings against him, but at any crucial moment, if he suffers from attack of mental disorder, he would not be in a position to take necessary steps to defend himself.
18. It was therefore, necessary for the trial Court to hold enquiry as contemplated under Order 32 Rule 15.
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