What is relative impotency? Court annuls marriage as man refuses physical relations with wife

The man had initially blamed his wife for not consummating the marriage

The Bombay High Court's Aurangabad division bench has declared the marriage of a young couple invalid after the husband admitted to Representational image | Pixabay

The Bombay High Court's Aurangabad division bench has declared the marriage of a young couple invalid after the husband admitted to "relative impotency".

The court said it cannot ignore the young couple's agony of frustration. "From the pleadings in the form of a written statement and reply to the application, it can be easily gathered that the appellant-husband has 'relative impotency' qua the respondent-wife," said the bench comprising Justice S.G. Chapalgaonkar and Justice Vibha Kankanwadi.

"The reason for non-consummation of the marriage is apparent 'relative impotency' of the husband," added the division bench.

What is relative impotency?

The division bench in its judgment said the term "relative impotency" is a known phenomenon. However, it is different from the normal impotency, which is the inability to copulate.

Relative impotency occurs when a person is unable to have a sexual relationship with their spouse despite being capable of having sexual intercourse. This could be due to various physical, mental or emotional reasons.

The court said in the present case, the man had blamed his wife for non-consummation initially as he was hesitant to admit he had relative impotency towards her.

"However, subsequently, he candidly admitted the same, being satisfied with the fact that it would not put lifelong stigma on him. The relative impotency is somewhat different than the general notion of impotency and the acceptance of relative impotency would not brand him impotent in general parlance," the bench said.

The man, 27, and the woman, 26, got married in March 2023. However, the couple who got separated within 17 days, said their marriage was not consummated. 

In her plea seeking annulment of marriage before a family court,  the woman said her husband refused to have physical relations with her, saying they could not connect with each other mentally, emotionally or physically.

Though the man initially blamed his wife for not consummating the marriage, he later submitted a written statement admitting relative impotency. However, the family court rejected the application claiming the couple had raised collusive claims.

After the woman moved the high court, it quashed the family court order and annulled the marriage.

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