Punjab and Haryana High Court: In an appeal filed by the appellant/husband seeking the dissolution of marriage on the ground of cruelty and desertion, and setting aside the impugned order of lower Court, whereby, his petition under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (‘HMA’), seeking dissolution of his marriage with the respondent has been dismissedthe division bench of Nidhi Gupta and Ritu Bahri, JJ. in order to do complete justice and to put an end to the agony of parties, set aside the impugned order of the lower Court, and dissolved the marriage solemnized between the parties by a decree of divorce. Further, it granted the wife permanent alimony of a sum of Rs. 18,00,000/- as full and final settlement.
The Court found the ruling of the lower Court to be factually incorrect wherein it was held that no cruelty was meted out by the wife against the husband, andtermed the allegations of the husband to be ‘vague and general’, despite the fact that the respondent has levelled the most objectionable allegations against the appellant and his family.
The Court observed that the lower Court has not dealt with the aspect that the wife in her cross-examination has admitted that her father-in-law’s alleged inappropriate behaviour was found to be false by the police, and therefore he was not challaned. The Court referred N. Rajendran v. S Valli, (2022) SCC Online SC 157, and viewed that the parties in the present case have irreconcilable differences making the marriage a mere legal fiction. Parties have resided separately since 2013 and all mediation attempts have been wasteful.
The Court referred to the decision in K. Srinivas v. K. Sunita, (2014) 16 SCC 34, and disagreed with the view of the lower Court, that even though the respondent had filed so many complaints, but no cruelty is made out because all these complaints had been made after the husband had filed the petition for divorce.
The Court referred to the decision in Joydeep Majumdar v. Bharti Jaiswal Majumdar, (2021) 3 SCC 742 wherein it was held that “if the wife files frequent and frivolous complaints against her spouse, it amounts to cruelty and is sufficient ground for divorce” It also referred the ruling in Raj Talreja v. Kavita Talreja, (2017) 14 SCC 194, wherein it was held that “Mere filing of complaints is not cruelty, if there are justifiable reasons to file the complaints. Merely because no action is taken on the complaint or after trial the accused is acquitted may not be a ground to treat such accusations of the wife as cruelty within the meaning of the HMA, 1955”.
Further, placing reliance on the decision in N. Rajendran v. S. Valli, (2022) SCC OnLine SC 157, the Court viewed that that the parties had been living separately for an extended period and that the efforts of solving the dispute through meditation and methods failed to resolve it; and even though irretrievable breakdown of marriage is not available as a ground under the statute, yet, the reality of it has been recognised by the Supreme Court in a catena of decisions. It also referred to the decision in Naveen Kohli v. Neelu Kohli, (2006) 4 SCC 558, wherein the Court granted divorce,as the parties were living separately since ten years and the wife was not ready to divorce the husband, even though their marriage has been irretrievably broken down.
The Court observed that matrimonial cases are matters of delicate human and emotional relationships demanding mutual love, regard, respect and affection. Reasonable adjustments must be made with the spouse while conforming to social norms. It needs to be controlled in the interest of the individuals as well as in a broader perspective, for regulating matrimonial norms for making a well-knit healthy society. The institution of marriage occupies an important place and role in society.Thus, the Court allowed the present appeal to set aside the impugned order, as the marriage between the parties is completely broken down.
[Ratandeep Singh Ahuja v. Harpreet Kaur, First Appeal Order-Matrimonial-208 of 2013 decided on 11.10.2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case:
Shiv Kumar, Advocate, for the Appellant;
Rahul Bhargava, Advocate, for the Respondent.