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Married in ’67, separated at 62

Last week, the judge tried to play marriage counsellor. But even that didn’t work. Anubha Chaudhuri was determined to get a divorce from Subir, 36 years after they had been pronounced man and wife.

It did not matter that Subir was 58 and Anubha 62. It did not matter that they were married in 1967. It did not matter that they had been practically living apart since 1977. It did not matter that the lawyer tried to play patch-up man and the judge did what he could to keep them together. In the end, Anubha’s determination won her what she wanted — a formal separation at 62.

Subir, now a defence ministry employee on the verge of retirement, married Anubha in 1967. They had three children — two sons and a daughter — and lived together till 1977, before things fell apart. When Anubha filed for a divorce at Barasat District Judge’s Court recently, almost everyone was taken aback, not least of all judge M.M. Sarkar. Here was a couple living apart for the past 26 years, and after all these years, the woman was insisting on a divorce.

In court, Anubha did not ask for any alimony or any other benefit from her husband. “She just told the court that she did not wish to be known as Subir’s wife any more,” said her lawyer Mitali Dasgupta.

“I asked her a few times why she was seeking a divorce at this age,” the judge later said. “I even consulted other judges and they, too, told me that they had not come across such a case,” he added, explaining that couples did not usually seek a divorce at such an age.

Even marital law experts were consulted and they, too, failed to provide any recorded evidence of such a divorce case involving two elderly people.

“Anubha told the court that it was her husband’s temper that had forced her to live separately since the autumn of 1977,” said Arup Dasgupta, who presented Subir’s case.

His client gave his consent to the divorce without any attempt at reconciliation, he added.

The case soon became the most talked-about in the Barasat court. People, including the men in black robes, would flock to the small courtroom for every hearing. “There was huge interest even among the lawyers and they thronged the courtroom to watch the proceedings,” Subir’s counsel said.

Finally, the elderly lady, who lives at Ichhapur with her three children, had her way. Judge Sarkar ruled for the termination of her marriage with the man who still goes to work within a few hundred yards of her home.

Days have passed since the judgment, but the Anubha vs Subir case continues to top the chat-charts at Barasat court. “The woman could have asked for her share of the property. After all, she was married to this man for so many years and was a housewife. But she decided against it. This shows her determination to dissociate herself from him, and also her lack of greed,” observed a lawyer.

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