Delhi High Court: In a case wherein, an appeal was filed under Section 19 of the Family Courts Act, 1984 read with Section 28 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (‘the HM Act’) to set aside the decree and judgment dated 9-12-2022 vide which the marriage between the parties had been dissolved by a divorce decree, the Division Bench of Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna*, JJ., concurred with the conclusion of the Family Court and did not found any ground to interfere with the divorce decree granted under Section 13(1)(ia) of the HM Act and accordingly dismissed the appeal.
In the instant case, on 22-11-2015, the appellant-wife and the respondent-husband got married. Thereafter, the wife and the husband lived at the matrimonial home, whereas the husband’s family resided at the ground floor.
However, in February 2019, the wife went to her parental home and lodged a complaint on 21-2-2019, against her husband and his family members alleging dowry harassment. The matter was settled vide a Settlement deed dated 11-03-2019 and pursuant to the settlement, the husband and wife took a separate house where they stayed together for three months.
Further, a complaint dated 7-6-2019 was filed by the appellant to take a legal action against the husband and his family members and subsequently, FIR under Sections 323, 34, 354-A, 406, 498-A and 506 of the Penal Code, 1860 was registered on 9-7-2019.
Thereafter, on 6-6-2019, the husband filed the divorce petition on the ground of cruelty.
Thus, the wife filed the appeal before the present Court.
Analysis, Law, and Decision
The Court opined that in the instance case, divorce had been sought on the ground of cruelty, and while physical cruelty was visible and easy to determine, the challenging aspect was to determine the mental agony.
The Court noted that the wife had alleged that the husband and his family members harassed her, made dowry demands, and on failure to fulfil such demands, she was subjected to cruelty. The wife had further claimed that the husband’s father had demanded Rs. 10 lakhs from the wife’s father, which was further given to him. The Court stated that the Family Court, had rightly observed that apart from mere assertions, the wife had not produced any evidence to prove that her father had given such amount.
The Court also noted the contradictions against the wife’s case and the allegations made by her, wherein, the wife had claimed that she was forced to leave the matrimonial home in February 2019, but during her cross-examination, she stated that she had left because of her bad health.
The Court observed that the terms of the Settlement deed were inserted as a mere precaution and could not be relied to prove dowry harassment without any evidence, and further stated that the Family Court had rightly observed that wife’s claims of dowry harassments and abuse by the husband and his family members were not proved by any evidence.
The Court stated that mere filing of FIR was not sufficient to prove the allegations of cruelty and dowry harassment, substantial evidence was required to prove the same, which the wife had unfortunately not been able to produce.
The Court noted that the complaint was filed on 7-6-2019, the day after the husband had filed the divorce petition. Thus, it appeared that the complaints were merely a counter-blast to the divorce petition and was being used as a weapon against the respondent and his family.
The Court further relied on K. Srinivas v. K. Sunita X, (2014) 16 SCC 34, Mangayakarasi v. M. Yuvaraj, (2020) 3 SCC 786; Nishi v. Jagdish Ram, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 5370 and Rita v. Jai Solanki, 2017 SCC OnLine Del 9078, opined that the complaints which were not substantiated by evidence and remained unproved are acts of cruelty against the respondent.
The Court further relied on Samar Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh, (2007) 4 SCC 511 and Gurbux Singh v. Harminder Kaur, (2010) 14 SCC 301, and opined that while looking at the acts of mental cruelty, the court must look at the married life as a whole and not merely a few isolated incidents.
The Court opined that, even if it was believed that the husband had left the wife the gates of her parent’s house, the husband could not be held guilty of such abandonment because it was clear that the wife was cruel to the husband, and it was extremely difficult to live with the husband.
Thus, the Court concurred with the conclusion of the Family Court and did not found any ground to interfere with the divorce decree granted under Section 13(1)(ia) of the HM Act and accordingly dismissed the appeal.
[Preeti v. Vikas, MAT.APP.(F.C) 14 of 2023, decided on 5-9-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Appellant: Rajinder Singh, Deepali Dasgupta and Muskan Tandon, Advocates;
For the Respondent: Mujeeb Khan and Amjad Khan, Advocates.
*Judgment authored by- Justice Neena Bansal Krishna