Trial court didn’t take sufficient care before branding petitioner with “stigma of living in adultery”, order set aside

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Dr. Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi, J. quashed and set aside an order of the trial Court that had cancelled the maintenance awarded to the petitioner, stating that the trial court had not taken “sufficient care before branding the petitioner with the stigma living in adultery”.

Accepting the contentions of the petitioner, that the trial court had not perused the evidence on record, the High Court held that the lower court had not even perused the judgment granting divorce to the respondent and the petitioner. It had been established in the aforesaid judgment that the divorce was being granted on grounds of desertion and not adultery since the respondent had failed to adduce sufficient evidence to prove his allegations. However, since Gautam Pawar, the one with whom the petitioner had been alleged to be living in adultery did not present himself for cross-examination, the trial court held that since this evidence had remained unchallenged, it should be relied upon and that the petitioner did have illicit relations with Gautam Pawar.

The High Court held that the trial court “has not at all appreciated the evidence on record properly and drawn the conclusions which were not borne out from the material.” Along with this, the petitioner’s claim for enhancement of maintenance was also accepted and the amount increased for her and her son till the time he attained majority. [Laxmi Dnyanadeo Netke v. Dnyanadeo Vithal Netke, 2017 SCC OnLine Bom 8643, order dated 6.10.2017]

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