Delhi High Court refuses divorce to husband on displaying constant reluctance towards reconciliation

Unfortunate are the matrimonial disputes where the fountain head of friction inter se the spouses is mere lack of adjustment, understanding and the will to stay together. These factors are the wheels of the chariot of a workable marriage and if either spouse becomes averse to move together and chooses to abandon the relationship, then extensive reconciliatory efforts by one spouse, would also not yield any results.

Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court: An appeal was filed by husband assailing the judgment and decree dated 07-01-2009 vide which the divorce petition under Sections 13(1)(ia) and 13(1)(ib) of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 filed on behalf of the husband on grounds of cruelty and desertion was dismissed. A division bench of Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna, JJ., held that the divorce petition of the appellant was rightly dismissed by the Additional District Judge and does not call for any interference.

The Court further held that “It is a case where the marriage is dead but in recognition of the principle under S.23 (1)(a) HMA,1955, to grant a Divorce in the present case would be to add a premium to the recalcitrant and unreasonable conduct of the appellant in unilaterally refusing to discharge his matrimonial obligations and has indeed caused undefinable cruelty to the respondent by denying her the conjugality without any fault.”

The couple in question entered marriage in April 1994, solemnizing their union through Hindu customs and rituals. During their marriage, they were blessed with a daughter, born in August 1995. Soon after their marriage, discord arose between the spouses, primarily initiated by the wife’s alleged misbehavior and unreasonable demands. The husband contended that within mere days of their wedding, the wife began insisting on separate accommodation and displayed disregard for significant familial events. These actions, coupled with incidents such as locking herself in a room, caused significant mental distress to the husband. Driven by the escalating tensions and alleged mistreatment, the husband resorted to legal action, filing a divorce petition under sections 13(1)(ia) and 13(1)(ib) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. He cited instances of cruelty and desertion as grounds for seeking dissolution of the marital bond.

Counsel for the husband presented a detailed narrative of events, highlighting instances of the wife’s alleged cruelty and abandonment. He recounted incidents where the wife refused to participate in family festivities, made unreasonable demands for separate living arrangements, and eventually left for her parental home without intending to return. In response, counsel for the wife vehemently denied the allegations leveled against her. She asserted her role as a sincere and dutiful wife, refuting claims of cruelty and desertion. The wife maintained that she was subjected to mistreatment and prevented from living with her husband by his family members.

The Court meticulously examined the submissions presented by both parties, scrutinizing the evidence and testimonies provided. It critically analyzed the alleged instances of cruelty and desertion, assessing the credibility of the claims made. Regarding the allegations of cruelty, the Court concluded that the incidents cited by the husband were not of sufficient gravity to warrant divorce. It deemed them as minor issues of adjustment rather than indicative of cruelty on the part of the wife. Similarly, on the issue of desertion, the Court found that the husband’s actions played a significant role in the wife’s separation. The Court noted inconsistencies in the husband’s testimony and highlighted instances where he failed to demonstrate genuine efforts to reconcile.

The Court remarked that “None of these allegations as claimed by the appellant/husband were substantiated and neither has he made any serious allegation, grave and weighty enough to grant divorce on the ground of cruelty which could cause reasonable apprehension in the mind of the appellant/husband that living with the wife is unsafe and harmful for him. The Learned Additional District Judge has rightly concluded that no acts of cruelty as envisaged under Section 13(1)(ia) of HMA, 1955 were proved by the appellant/husband; rather they were incidents of normal wear and tear and minor initial adjustments.”

The Court further remarked that “The entire evidence, which is essentially not disputed but is admitted by the appellant thus, proves that the appellant at every point of time resisted the reconciliatory efforts made by the respondent and despite persistent efforts of the respondent did not permit her to join him in the matrimonial home. The appellant has also not been able to explain the reason why he never went to meet the respondent or make any effort to bring her back.”

“In the present case, there is no evidence whatsoever to prove that the respondent had shifted out of the matrimonial home; without any reasonable excuse rather it is established that the appellant compelled her to shift out It is also not proved that the respondent had any animus or intention to leave the matrimonial home. The appellant has miserably failed to prove that the respondent had deserted the appellant. The appellant was thus, rightly denied divorce on the ground of Desertion under S.13 (1) (ib) of HMA, 1955 by the Ld. ADJ, Delhi.”

The Court concluded that while the marriage may be irreparably broken, granting a divorce would unjustly reward the husband’s unreasonable conduct. The Court emphasized the importance of equitable resolution and denied the divorce petition, recognizing the lack of substantial evidence supporting the husband’s claims. Thus, the Court dismissed the husband’s appeal, upholding the decision of the lower court.

Gaurav Gulati v. Gita Pravin, 2024 SCC OnLine Del 1608, decided on 01-03-2024

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Ms. Gauri Puri & Ms. Yamini Mukherjee, Advocates with appellant in person

Ms. Jyoti Gupta, Advocate with respondent in person

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