A 31-year-old businessman has put a family court in Bandra, Mumbai, in a quandary, after requesting it to annul his marriage to a 29-year-old fashion designer.
The man, who was born female, went through a gender reassignment surgery to be able to marry his wife. The couple were in a relationship for 11 years, before the businessman was persuaded by the woman to go through a sex-change operation so that she could introduce him to her family as her boyfriend. The two got married a year after the procedure was complete but trouble began shortly afterwards.
According to The Times of India, the woman claimed her husband took out his frustration for not being able to have intercourse with her by treating her badly. Members of his family allegedly joined in the abuse. She also accused him of objecting to her having a career.
For his part, the businessman claimed his wife was fully aware she was entering into a "void matrimony" with a person who may not be able to function sexually like a heterosexual man, having signed the consent form for the surgery as a witness.
The dilemma before the Bandra court now is this: does the Hindu Marriage Act recognise marriage between a woman and a woman-turned-man? The answer to this question will decide the outcome of the case — and the fates of the parties hanging on it.
As the TOI report explained, "A marriage is void in law if one of the parties was already married or if it is a marriage between two persons who fall within degrees of prohibited relationships or between direct lineal ascendants to the third degree."
The man, who has asked for the annulment, wants to marriage to be declared void, having no legal sanctity as such. The woman, on the other hand, has demanded an alimony of ₹1 lakh a month from him as well as a place to live in South Mumbai. Her case is premised on the recognition of the marriage by law, which will then facilitate her plea for divorce and alimony.
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