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Bombay HC cancels marriage as couple fails to consummate it due to husband’s ‘relative impotence’

Mumbai: The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has annulled the marriage of a young couple who could not consummate it due to the man’s ‘relative impotence’, noting that their agony of frustration cannot be ignored.

A division bench of Justices Vibha Kankanwadi and SG Chapalgaonkar in the April 15 judgment also observed that this was a fit case to help “young marriage patients” who could not connect with each other mentally, emotionally or physically.

A 27-year-old man had approached the court after a family court dismissed an application filed by his 26-year-old wife in February 2024 seeking annulment of the marriage at the admission stage itself.

The Supreme Court in its ruling said that the expression ‘relative impotence’ is a well-known phenomenon and is different from normal impotence, which means the inability to copulate in general.

Relative impotence broadly refers to a situation where a person might be able to have sexual intercourse but is unable to carry it out with the spouse.

The court said that there could be several physical and mental causes for such relative impotence.

“In the present case, it can be easily established that the husband has relative impotence qua (over) the wife. The reason for non-consummation of the marriage is this apparent relative impotence of the husband,” the HC said.

The Supreme Court said it could not ignore the fact that this was a case involving a young couple dealing with the pain of marital frustration.

The man may have initially blamed his wife for his lack of consummation because he was reluctant to admit his relative impotence toward her, the statement said.

“But later he candidly admitted the same, as he was satisfied that this would not inflict a lifelong stigma on him. The relative impotence is somewhat different from the general idea of ​​impotence and the acceptance of relative impotence would not label him as impotent in common parlance,” the HC said.

The couple married in March 2023 but split after 17 days. The couple said their marriage had not been consummated.

The woman claimed that the man had rejected the physical relationship with her.

In her plea for annulment of marriage filed in the family court, the woman said the man had ‘relative impotence’.

She said they couldn’t connect mentally, emotionally or physically.

The man initially filed an affidavit in the family court stating that the marriage had not been consummated, but blamed the woman for this.

He later submitted a written statement admitting relative impotence.

The man claimed that he could not establish a physical relationship with his wife, but that he was otherwise normal. In the statement, he said he didn’t want the stigma of being generally impotent.

Following this, the woman filed an application asking the Family Court to decide the divorce petition at the admission stage itself, in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, instead of conducting a trial.

However, the family court rejected the request, claiming that the husband and wife had filed collusive claims.

The HC bench set aside the family court order quashing the marriage and declaring it null and void.

(Published April 21, 2024, 5:13 am IST)