The Chhattisgarh High Court last month called for the eradication of “discrimination based on skin colour” as it upheld a family court order denying a man’s divorce application. The husband had claimed “cruelty”, arguing he had been deserted by his spouse, but the court ruled for the wife, who said she had been insulted, and thrown out of her home, because of her darker complexion.
The court then came down strongly on the man, who was wed in 2005, and said it could not give others, through its judgement in this case, an “incentive to promote (a colourist) mindset”.
“The human race needs to change the dialogue at home… which may not promote the fairness preference of skin,” a bench of Justice Gautam Bhaduri and Justice Deepak Kumar Tiwari said.
The court also referred to studies on the role skin colour plays in selection of marital partners and the long-running debate on “fairness creams”, which, in 2020, were the subject of an amendment to the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act that prescribed a five-year jail term for ads promoting fair skin.
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“The study further indicates… dark-skinned (women) were rated lower than their counterparts, and the majority of skin-lightening cosmetics target women. They are likely to portray a dark-skinned woman as under-confident and insecure… unable to secure success in life,” the court noted.
“Therefore, the incentive cannot be given to a husband to promote such mind set of the society for preference of light skin over dark…” the court ruled, adding, “… we are of the view that no ground of cruelty, or desertion, has been made out by the husband to get the decree of divorce…”