New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has said that “Roka”, a traditional Punjabi pre-marital ceremony, is a “social evil that needs to be condemned”.
A division bench of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Pratibha Rani said: “It is a social evil which needs to be condemned. It entails useless expenditure and in many cases becomes the source of future bickering.”
In most matrimonial disputes, the allegations between parties commence from the day of the Roka, added the court as it decided a matrimonial dispute. Roka is a traditional Punjabi ceremony in which the families of the bride and groom exchange gifts and this ceremony signifies that the boy and girl are formally engaged.
“A word on the so-called Roka. Its existence takes back approximately 25 years. The couple is treated as a kind of a chattel,” said the bench, adding: “Its significance is that on account of money given by the family of the female to the male, it is conveyed to the society that neither would henceforth scout for a life partner – the search for a life partner is stopped: Roka.”
The court’s observation came, while giving its judgement on an appeal filed by a Punjabi wife against the decision of a family court here which granted divorce on her husband’s plea. The family court had granted divorce on ground of “cruelty” and “desertion” which the high court has quashed.
As per the plea, the marriage between the two took place in 2006. The next year, a son was born. However, the wife then left the matrimonial house, with the infant son, on the ground that her husband was a heavy drinker and was in the habit of beating her. The husband, also professing Sikh religion, had alleged that after the Roka ceremony, she complained to him over the telephone that his parents had not gifted her sufficient items as per her taste and living standard – allegations she had denied.