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Apart, only to return united

The final separation for a marriage dating back to 1967, but the first steps towards reunion for one solemnised in 1997.

Less than a month ago, they came to court separately. Saheli Ghosh had slapped a case of assault on husband Amlan, and she was determined to get a divorce.

They were back in court on Monday, separately, the wife followed by the husband. But this time, both told the Bench that they could not live without each other. And so, Saheli and Amlan went back home together.

The bitter-sweet drama of estrangement and reconciliation was played out inside a packed Calcutta High Court room on Monday. Judges Gorachand De and Narayan Sil, however, preferred to keep things open-ended, and wait and watch.

The case brought by Saheli against Amlan would continue, they decreed, for some more time. “Attend every hearing as you were doing till today,” they ruled. “Let’s see how you take your lives forward.”

Saheli and Amlan, however, appeared convinced that they wanted to take their lives forward, together. The January 20 date with the law seemed a distant, if sordid, memory. That day, Saheli had turned up in court seeking the quashing of an anticipatory-bail order that Amlan had managed to obtain from a lower court.

Saheli had moved out of her husband’s home in Howrah and moved a lower court, allegedly after being physically assaulted by Amlan. Saheli’s lawyer told the court that she was being blamed by her husband for not bearing a child, though medical tests had confirmed that the fault did not lie with her.

Amlan moved the lower court for an anticipatory bail and got it. Saheli, determined to make Amlan pay for his act, moved the court, asking the judges not to grant her husband bail.

Saheli and Amlan had married in 1997, after several rounds of negotiations between their families. But by 2002, they seemed certain that they were not meant for each other, Saheli’s lawyer told the court.

The judges heard her out and then made an unusual request: “Go back and stay together for some time… Give your marriage another try.”

It took no time to break a marriage, they reasoned, but mending a strained relationship meant much more.

“We cannot, everything said and done, force you to stay together,” the judges said. “We are bound by law to grant you a divorce if you insist on a mutual divorce, but why don’t you give it a try'” they added.

Saheli was not convinced: “What security do I have'” The judges then replied: “We are your security.”

The two went back home and returned to court on Monday. Saheli came in first. When the judges asked where Amlan was, she requested them to wait for him to show up.

Amlan did show up and stood by his wife. And what the two said next was just what the judges had wanted to hear. “We stayed together in the interim and discovered how much we need each other,” they chorused.

Saheli then made her final request: “I would like to withdraw the case I slapped against my husband.”

It was the turn of the judges to tread with caution. “Come to court like you have been doing and we will wait for an opportune moment for you to withdraw the case,” they said.

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