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Restitution of conjugal rights in Pakistan

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Marriage confers important rights and entails corresponding obligations both on the husband and the wife. Some of these rights are capable of being altered by the agreement freely entered into by the parties. But mainly, the obligations arising out of marriage are laid down by the law. An important obligation is consortium which not only means living together, but also implies a ‘union of fortunes’. A fundamental principle of matrimonial law is that one spouse is entitled to the society and comfort of the other. Thus, where wife without lawful cause, refuses to live with her husband, the husband is entitled to sue for the restitution of conjugal rights and similarly, the wife has the right to demand the fulfillment by the husband of his marital duties. The restitution of conjugal rights is often regarded as a matrimonial remedy, but at the same time, it has faced a lot of criticisms. In majority of the cases in the sub-continent, the question which arises is regarding its origin, its roots in religion and the it constitutionality.

When either the husband or the wife has, without reasonable excuse, withdrawn from the society of the other, the aggrieved party may apply, by petition to the district court, for restitution of conjugal rights and the court, on being satisfied of the truth of the statements made in such petition and that there is no legal ground why the application should not be granted, may decree restitution of conjugal rights accordingly. Where a question arises whether there has been reasonable excuse for withdrawal from the society, the burden of proving reasonable excuse shall be on the person who has withdrawn from the society.

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