Delhi High Court: A Division Bench of Hima Kohli and Asha Menon, JJ., while addressing a matrimonial appeal filed on behalf of the husband, held that,
Adultery can only be committed after marriage, allegation of having relationship before marriage cannot be a ground of adultery.
Petitioner being aggrieved by the Family Court’s decision of dismissal of his petition wherein he sought dissolution of his marriage with respondent 1 under Section 13(1)(i) and (ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, filed the present appeal.
It has been alleged that right after the marriage wife of the petitioner had started showing her disinterest in the marriage, he states that respondent 1/ wife had allegedly abused the appellant/husband and his family members and proclaimed that she had no interest in the marriage.
Further she even disclosed of having a love affair with respondent 2 and that she desired to marry him.
Late after a few months, she left with all the valuables and leaving a letter in which she stated that she will not return back and preferred to live her life with respondent 2.
However, respondent 1/wife was brought back by her brother but appellant/husband did not allow her to enter the house.
Thus, in view of the above facts, petition for divorce was filed.
Wife/Respondent 1 while opposing the divorce petition admitted that she had disclosed about her previous affair but claimed that it was only after long discussions with her husband and his family members.
Further she submitted that the husband’s family had started harassing and torturing her for dowry and pressurised her to bring a luxury car which she could not fulfill.
Withe regard to above letter mentioned, she submitted that her sister-in-law had compelled her to write whatever husband’s family members forced her to write and sign.
On one incident, an actual attempt was also made to kill her by pressing her neck and she was saved only because neighbours had gathered on hearing her cries.
Her in-laws hatched a conspiracy to kill her by suffocating her with a pillow. During the said incident, she had received injuries on various parts of her body. The appellant/husband and his family members thought that she might die and so, she was thrown near her parental village.
A complaint against the appellant/husband and his family members under Section 498-A, 307, 504 and 506 of Penal Code, 1860 had been filed.
Analysis and Decision
Bench while analysing the the matter noted that the appellant failed to prove his entitlement to divorce in the grounds of adultery under Section 13(1)(i) of the Act.
Further the Court observed that,
Cruelty is no doubt, not measurable as a tangible commodity, but the standard for determining as to whether a particular conduct amounts to cruelty or only to normal wear and tear of marriage, has been the subject matter of several decisions of the Supreme Court.
Court also relied on the Supreme Court case: V. Bhagat v. D. Bhagat, AIR 1994 SC 710, wherein the following was held:
Mental cruelty in Section 13(1)(i-a) can broadly be defined as that conduct which inflicts upon the other party such mental pain and suffering as would make it not possible for that party to live with the other. In other words, mental cruelty must be of such a nature that the parties cannot reasonably be expected to live together.
As per the incidents stated by the appellant none of them, if at all committed, amount to “cruel” conduct.
To the above, bench stated that, a new bride would be hesitant in her new surroundings in the matrimonial home.
It is always for the husband’s family to make the new bride feel at home and accepted as a family member. Therefore, such conduct of the respondent 1/wife of being interested in remaining in her room or not showing initiative in doing household work can by no stretch of imagination be described as cruel behaviour.
Thus, in Court’s opinion, Family Court’s conclusion including the observation of accusation of adultery being heaped by the appellant/husband on respondent 1/wife are without any proof.
Thus the present appeal of the husband was dismissed in the above view. [Vishal Singh v. Priya, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 638 , decided on 12-06-2020]