A three-judge bench considered the following facts: The appellant, Smt. Kailash Wati, and the respondent, Ajodhia Parkash, were married while both were employed as village-level teachers. Following their marriage, the appellant was transferred to her husband's station, and they resided together in the matrimonial home for approximately 8 to 9 months. Subsequently, the appellant returned to her parental home to resume her previous employment.

Issue: The central issue before the court pertained to whether the Hindu Marriage Law accommodates or legitimizes the notion of a "weekend marriage," wherein the wife unilaterally determines the duration of her stay at the matrimonial home. This question held significant importance and required determination by the full bench.

Observation: While the meaning of the term 'conjugal rights' is vague and indefinite, it has been defined as matrimonial rights; the right which husband and wife have to each other's society, comfort and affection.

Marital or conjugal rights include the enjoyment of association, sympathy, confidence, domestic enjoyment of association, sympathy, confidence, domestic happiness, the comforts of dwelling together in the same habitation, eating meals at the same table and profiting by the joint property rights as well as the intimacies of domestic relations. Three situations obviously come to the mind in such a withdrawal by the wife from the matrimonial home.

  • I. Where the husband marries a woman already in public or private service and that any working woman entering into matrimony, by necessary implication consents to the obvious and known marital duty of living with a husband as a necessary incident of Marriage.
  • II. Where a husband either encourages or at least allows his wife to take up employment after marriage. A particular situation or financial circumstances at one or the other stage of marriage, require that both the spouses may have to seek work. In such a situation, either by mutuality or even at the instance of the husband, a wife might obtain gainful employment away from the matrimonial home. Merely from this to infer that thereafter the said condition must necessarily continue or a permanent right accrues to the wife to live away from the matrimonial home on the ground of employment elsewhere, does not appear to me as supportable either on principle or authority.
  • III. Wife against the wishes of her husband accept employment away from the matrimonial home and unilaterally withdraws there from. It would be an obvious case of a unilateral and unreasonable withdrawal from the society of the husband and thus a patent violation of the mutual obligation of husband and wife to live together.

The above is subject to two plain qualifications.

Firstly, the husband must actually establish a matrimonial home wherein he can maintain his wife in dignified comfort in accordance with the means and standards of living of the parties.

Secondly, it must be crystal clear that the husband whilst claiming the society of his wife in the marital home should be acting in good faith and not merely to spite his wife.

Held: The time perhaps has come when the appellant must make her choice between the job and the husband. Considerations only of employment elsewhere also would not furnish her reasonable ground for withdrawal from the society and companionship of the husband which in practical terms is synonymous with withdrawal from the matrimonial home. A unilateral withdrawal from the society of her husband in the present situation cannot possibly be deemed a reasonable excuse so as to come within the ambit of the definition provided under section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act. Appeal dismissed.