Chhattisgarh High Court: In an appeal filed against the judgement and decree dated 20-08-2019, whereby the petition filed by the respondent-husband under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (‘HMA’) was allowed, the Division Judge Bench of Goutam Bhaduri and Deepak Kumar Tiwari*, JJ., opined that if the husband expected the wife to stay at a place other than his company without any sufficient cause, it could not be stated that because of the wife’s resistance to stay apart would be cruelty by the wife. Thus, the Court opined that none of the grounds had been satisfied individually or collectively to entitle the husband to claim decree of divorce and set aside the judgment dated 20-08-2019.
In the instant case, the parties got married on 08-05-2008 and from the said wedlock, a girl child was born on 19-07-2009. After the marriage of the parties, the appellant-wife returned to her matrimonial village, after performing ‘gouna’ and both the husband and wife lived happily together for about six months.
It was alleged that the wife did not like the marriage as it was performed in the rural area and thereafter, she joined the B.Ed. course at Raipur. In the last week of May, 2009, when the wife finished her examination, the husband went back to take his wife from Raipur but she stated that she would reside at her maternal house and during the said period, she conceived. Further, when after the eight days, the husband came to take her back with him, she refused to come as there was no proper medical facilities at their place.
On 24-02-2014, a social meeting was scheduled, wherein the wife had imposed a condition that she would not go to her matrimonial village and reside separately with her husband. The husband accepted the condition and they both started residing at Pipariya village from 26-11-2010. As per the meeting, they were supposed to live separately from their family for only four-six months. Thus, the husband vacated the rented house at Pipariya village and asked the wife to reside at matrimonial village. However, the wife started threatening the husband that she would commit suicide and stated that the husband should keep her at Pipariya village.
On 03-02-2014, the wife reached the husband’s office and negotiation was made for compromise, but the wife refused to reside at matrimonial village. Further, on 21-04-2014, the wife again went to the husband’s office and threatened him to take her back to his house, otherwise, she would kill herself. The respondent submitted that he had tried his level best to keep his wife with him peacefully but she always kept on imposing conditions and there was no physical relation also between them since last four years. Therefore, the husband sought the divorce on the ground of cruelty.
The Family Court after evaluating the entire facts and evidence, granted the divorce on the ground of cruelty. Thus, the wife filed the present appeal.
Analysis, Law, and Decision
The Court opined that it was very natural and rightful demand of the wife from her husband to keep her along with him. From the very beginning, the husband had not accepted the wife’s genuine request and always treated her as a chattel and thought that she was bound to live in a place, where he wanted to keep her. The Court opined that it was well settled that in a matrimonial house, the wife should not be treated as hired chattel or a bonded labour to stay under the conditions imposed by the husband.
The Court relied on Samar Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh, (2007) 4 SCC 511 and opined that it was obvious that the wife insisted to stay with the husband and without any extraneous reason or official cause, if the husband refused to keep her it could not be said that wife had committed the cruelty towards the husband. The Court opined that during the matrimonial ties, the reciprocal respect and regard to each other and the company was necessary. And if such respect and regard to each other was not present, any forceful imposition of condition by either side might lead to a matrimonial disruption.
The Court opined that if the husband expected the wife to stay at a place other than his company without any sufficient cause, it could not be stated that because of the wife’s resistance to stay apart would be cruelty by the wife.
Thus, the Court opined that none of the grounds had been satisfied individually or collectively to entitle the husband to claim decree of divorce and set aside the judgment dated 20-08-2019.
[Kalyani Devi v. Tejnath, 2023 SCC OnLine Chh 4314, decided on 17-10-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Appellant: Krishna Tandon, Advocate;
For the Respondent: CJK Rao, Advocate