Delhi High Court: In a case wherein the appeal was filed by the appellant-wife against the judgment and decree dated 24-01-2018, whereby divorce was granted to the respondent-husband on the ground of cruelty and desertion under Sections 13(1)(ia) and 13(1)(ib) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (‘the Act’), the Division Bench of Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna, JJ.*, concurred with the Family Court’s decision that the wife’s conduct towards the husband amounted to cruelty which entitled him to the decree of divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Act, and thus disposed of the appeal.
On 10-05-2004, the parties got married as per Hindu custom and rites, however, no child was born from their marriage. The husband filed a divorce petition against the wife, wherein he stated that from the first night of their marriage, the wife was behaving abnormally and did not respond to hissexual overtures. Thereafter, she went to her parental home and when the husband asked her to come back, she stated that she was not interested in living with him. However, the wife returned to her matrimonial home but then again went to her parental home without informing the husband and his family members. Again, when she was brought home again, she declared that she was not happy with the marriage and was not inclined to stay in her matrimonial home. She maintained an indifferent attitude towards the respondent and did not speak to the family members and showed complete disrespect to the parents and other family members of the respondent.
On 16-05-2004, the wife locked herself in the room and threatened that she would commit suicide, or she might be dropped at her parental home. Eventually, in the last week of May 2004, the wife went back to her parental home and did not return. The husband further asserted that in November 2005, he was served with the summons from Crime Against Women (‘CAW’) Cell, where the wife had filed a complaint for dowry harassment. Eventually, a FIR under Sections 498-A, 406 and 34 of the Penal Code, 1860 was registered against the husband and his family members. Thus, the husband filed a divorce petition on the grounds of cruelty and desertion.
The Principal Judge, Family Court (‘Family Court’) concluded that deprivation of conjugal relationship to the husband amounted to cruelty and thus, granted divorce. Thereafter, being aggrieved by the grant of divorce, the wife filed an appeal before this Court.
Analysis, Law, and Decision
The Court observed that on account of hesitation and reluctance of the wife towards physical intimacy, differences arose between the parties and since the wife was not able to adjust in her new role as a wife, she and her husband resided together barely for a period of two months. The Court stated that their marriage had a rocky start and the differences and mistrust that generated in the beginning did not let their relationship flourish further.
The Court also noted the FIR that had been registered against the husband and his family members and thus opined that filing a criminal case for dowry demand could not be termed as an act of cruelty, but there was no cogent evidence submitted by the wife that the dowry demands were made, or the wife was harassed or physically tortured.
The Court relied on K. Srinivas v. K. Sunita, (2014) 16 SCC 34; Mangayakarasi v. M. Yuvaraj, (2020) 3 SCC 786; Ravi Kumar v. Julmidevi, and opined that “making allegations of dowry harassment resulted in registration of a FIR and the trial to follow could only be termed as an act of cruelty when the wife had failed to prove even one incident of dowry demand”. The Court concurred with the Family Court’s decision that no serious or grave facts were brought on record, where it could be concluded that the marriage was not workable within such short period.
The Court further relied on Rajeev Chadha v. Shama Chadha Nee Shama Kapoor, 2012 SCC OnLine Del 1720; Shakuntla Kumari v. Om Prakash Ghai, 1980 SCC OnLine Del 268; Samar Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh (2007) 4 SCC 511 and observed that the marriage between the parties subsisted only for thirty-five days, however the marriage failed completely due to deprivation of conjugal rights and consummation of marriage. Thus, the Court opined that such deprivation over a period of more than eighteen years itself amounted to mental cruelty.
The Court held that the Family Court had rightly concluded that though the desertion had not been proved but the wife’s conduct towards the husband, amounted to cruelty, which entitled him to the decree of divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Act, and thus, disposed of the appeal.
[Seema v. Vijay Kumar, 2023 SCC OnLine Del 5761, decided on 11-9-2023]
*Judgment authored by- Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Neena Bansal Krishna
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Respondent: Vijay Kinger, Ashwani Gehlot, Roopa Nagpal and S.C. Kashyap, Advocates