Karnataka High Court: The Division Bench of S. Sunil Dutt Yadav and K.S. Hemalekha, JJ. allowed the petition in part and dissolved the marriage between the parties on account of mental cruelty for levelling unsubstantiated claims against husband by the wife.
The present appeal was preferred by the husband assailing the judgment and decree passed by Principal Judge, Family Court, Dharwad, whereby the petition filed by the husband under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 seeking decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty was dismissed. The grounds for divorce are regarding allegations levelled against him that the husband is impotent in front of relatives which amounts to mental agony and cruelty to the husband.
The issue under consideration is whether the allegation made by the wife that the husband is impotent and not competent to perform matrimonial obligations has resulted in mental cruelty as envisaged under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 or not.
The Court observed that cruelty includes both physical and mental cruelty as enumerated under the Section 13(1) (ia) Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and cruelty would require the assessment of the cumulative effect of the attending facts and circumstances established by evidence on record.
The Court noted
No prudent woman would think of making allegation of impotency in the presence of others, rather she would take necessary steps to see that the reputation of the husband is not affected and not thrown out in public.
The Court relied on G Padmini v. G Sivananda Babu, 1999 SCC OnLine AP 678 wherein it was observed that putting unnecessary allegations on the husband to not being able to bear children, without presenting any proof, will lead to intense mental agony and anguish for the husband.
The Court also observed, though Section 13 Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 does not consider the impotency as the ground for divorce, the false allegation of impotency being made by the wife would definitely cause mental disharmony and this would amount to mental cruelty within the meaning of Section 13(1)(ia) of the Act, and enables the husband to seek divorce on the ground of cruelty.
The Supreme Court held in Pramila Bhatia v. Vijay Kumar Bhatia, 2000 SCC OnLine Raj 54, as no evidence having been specifically adduced by the wife to prove that the husband is actually impotent; the allegation would remain only an allegation and has the effect of lowering the dignity of the husband, which amounts to cruelty.
The Court held “in light of the allegations having not been proved to be genuine, and calling the husband an impotent without legally substantiating the same, itself would amount to cruelty within the meaning of Section 13(ia) of the Act and the trial Court was not justified in holding that the cruelty asserted by the husband is not proved. Thus, we are of the considered opinion that the judgment and decree of the Family Court needs to be set aside and the petition filed by the husband under Section 13(1) (ia) of the Act needs to be allowed granting a decree of divorce in favour of the husband.”
[X v Y, MFA No. 10265 of 2022, decided on 31-05-2022]
For the appellant: Mr. Srinand A. Pachhapure
For the respondent: Mr. S.R. Hegde