Punjab and Haryana High Court: Expressing that, Matrimonial cases are matters of delicate human and emotional relationship, the Division Bench of Ritu Bhari and Ashok Kumar Verma, JJ., expressed that, the Court no doubt should seriously make an endeavour to reconcile the parties, yet, if it is found that the breakdown is irreparable, then divorce should not be withheld.

In the present matter, husband-appellant approached the Court seeking to set aside the decision of the District Judge whereby the petition filed by him under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for dissolution of marriage had been dismissed.

Factual Background

The Husband sought dissolution of the marriage on the ground that the wife from the beginning of the marriage was cruel, and harsh and she used to pick up quarrels over trifles without any justifiable cause. Further, the respondent-wife deserted the appellant-husband in 2002 and since then she had not returned to the matrimonial home.

Whenever, the appellant went to meet from his place of posting to meet his wife, the wife’s parents did not allow him to meet the son and wife both. Later, in the year 2006, when the husband requested the wife to company her, she refused stating that is he tried to take her she would commit suicide.

In spite of best efforts, the respondent did not join the matrimonial home, he was compelled to institute a divorce petition. Further, despite giving undertaking before the Court that she would withdraw her complaint and maintenance application file before the Senior Air Force Officer, she did not do so and did not join the company of the appellant, hence, the decree of divorce was sought.

Analysis, Law and Decision

“The institution of marriage occupies an important place and role to play in the society, in general.”

High Court noted that the criminal complaint was made by the wife after the filing of the divorce petition by the husband, however, the fact remained that earlier also she had filed complaints against the appellant before his senior officers in the Air Force which she assured to withdraw.

Filing of the complaint and initiation of criminal proceedings which were found to be baseless and false, do cause harassment and torture to the husband and his family, Bench stated.

Noting that the wife’s conduct of filing a complaint making unfounded, indecent and defamatory allegations against her husband and parent-in-law Bench stated that the same caused mental cruelty.

Respondent wife also bent upon destroying the career and reputation of the appellant-husband as she made complaints against him to his senior officers in the Air Force.

Primary Issue for Consideration

Whether the relationship of the husband and wife has come to an end and if the respondent-wife is not ready to give mutual divorce to the appellant-husband, whether this act of her, would amount to cruelty towards husband, keeping in view the fact that she is not staying with her husband for the last twenty years and there is no scope that they can cohabit as husband and wife again?

This Court along with several decisions also referred to the Supreme Court in Naveen Kohli v. Neetu Kohli, (2006) 4 SCC 558, wherein the Court considered a case of irretrievable break down of marriage. In this case, the wife was living separately for long but did not want a divorce by mutual consent, only to make life of her husband miserable. Thus, the decree of divorce was granted and held a cruel treatment and showed that the marriage had broken irretrievably.

In the instant case as well, the Bench found that marriage had broken down irretrievably and there was no chance of their coming together or living together again. Hence, not granting a decree of divorce would be disastrous.

The consequences of preservation in law of the unworkable marriage which has long ceased to be effective are bound to be a source of greater misery for the parties.

Lastly, in Court’s opinion, the appeal should be allowed, and the decision of the District Judge be set aside and a decree of divorce be granted. The husband was directed to make an F.D. of Rs 20 lakhs as permanent alimony in the name of the respondent-wife.[Devesh Yadav v. Meenal, 2022 SCC OnLine P&H 902, decided on 8-4-2022]

Advocates before the Court:

Mr. Gurpreet Singh, Advocate, for the appellant-husband.

Mr. Gautam Diwan, Advocate, for the respondent-wife.

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