Labelling husband as alcoholic and womanizer without any basis amounts to ‘cruelty’ u/S 13(1) HMA, 1955; Bombay High Court grants divorce

Bombay High Court

   

Bombay High Court: In an appeal filed by wife challenging the judgment and decree dated 22-11-2005, passed by the Family Court whereby the marriage was dissolved by a decree of divorce under Section 13 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 on the ground that the allegations constitute an act of cruelty, a Division Bench of Nitin Jamdar and Sharmila U Deshmukh JJ., held that making false and baseless allegations by the wife pertaining to the character of the husband and labelling him as an alcoholic and womanizer constitutes “cruelty” within the meaning of Section 13(1)(i-a) of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

The petitioner-wife has deposed that the respondent-husband used to be constantly under the influence of liquor and used to physically assault her and was a habitual alcoholic and a womanizer. She alleged that due to his vices he used to return home late at night and that she was deprived of her conjugal rights, and he was in the habit of visiting her sister on one pretext or the other.

The Court noted that there is no evidence produced by the wife to substantiate her allegations. Pertinently, the petitioner’s own sister did not corroborate the case of the petitioner and has merely deposed that the husband used to consume liquor, but made no assertion of him being alcoholic, which has a distinct connotation. Moreover, the deposition also lacks credibility in the allegations regarding him being a womanizer. Thus, the evidence on record produced by the petitioner fails to prove the allegations made by her in pleadings.

The Court further noted that the wife has defamed him in the society by making false and baseless allegations, causing him mental agony, which is proved by the respondent and on the contrary, has failed to substantiate the allegations made by her in the reply to the counter claim.

The Court remarked that while considering the conduct of a party, in the context of “cruelty” as contemplated under the provisions of Section 13(1)(i-a) of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the strata of the society to which the parties belong is also relevant. In the present case, the husband is an ex-army man retired as “Major” and as stated by the wife in her pleadings, belongs to upper strata of society and has a standing in the society.

The Court concluded that the conduct of the wife in continuing to make unwarranted, false and baseless allegations pertaining to the husband’s character labelling him as an alcoholic and womanizer has resulted in shredding his reputation in the society especially where he was carrying out social work and therefore, he cannot continue with the matrimonial relationship in the face of such allegations.

Thus, the Court held the case fit for grant of divorce.

[Nalini Nagnath Uphalkar v. Nagnath Mahadev Uphalkar, Family Court Appeal No. 45 of 2006, decided on 12-10-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Vikas B. Shivarkar, Advocate, for the Appellant;

Mr. Onkar Kulkarni i/by Mr. Yadunath Chaudhari, Advocates, for the Respondent.


*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.

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