Husband put on higher degree than wife is unacceptable; Calcutta High Court grants restitution of conjugal rights to wife

Calcutta High Court

Calcutta High Court: While dealing with an appeal challenging judgement and decree of Trial Court granting decree for dissolution of marriage and dismissing application for restitution of conjugal rights, the two judges bench comprising of Harish Tandon and Madhuresh Prasad JJ, sets aside the impugned order and dismissed the application for dissolution of marriage and also, allowed the application for restitution for conjugal rights.

The case revolves around a marriage between the parties, solemnized on 07-03-2011, according to Hindu rituals. Despite consummation, no children were born to the couple. However, the marital harmony quickly deteriorated, with allegations of cruelty and mistreatment being levied by both parties against each other. The husband alleged that the wife subjected him to various forms of cruelty, including verbal abuse, insults, and physical violence. He claimed that the wife’s behavior towards him and his family members, particularly his mother, was intolerable. Incidents such as the wife’s refusal to tolerate his mother’s illness, resulting in verbal abuse, and her alleged attempt to harm his mother by trying to burn her, were cited as examples of cruelty. However, the wife denied these allegations and counter-alleged mistreatment by the husband’s family, particularly his mother, whom she claimed to have referred to her derogatorily. She expressed her willingness to reconcile despite the husband leaving the matrimonial home voluntarily.

The husband filed an application for dissolution of marriage under Section 13 (1) (a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, alleging cruelty by the wife. He presented various evidence’s to support his claims, detailing instances of verbal abuse, insults, physical violence, and mistreatment towards his mother. In response, the wife denied these allegations in her written statement, claiming mistreatment by the husband’s family and expressing her desire for reconciliation despite the husband’s voluntary departure from the matrimonial home. The Trial Court critically examined the evidence presented by both parties, focusing on the legal principles governing matrimonial cruelty. However, the Court’s analysis was criticized on several grounds by the appellate court.

The Court found fault with the Trial Court’s interpretation of evidence, particularly its reliance on certain incidents that were not sufficiently corroborated. Moreover, the Trial Court’s presumption of acceptance of allegations due to lack of cross-examination was deemed incorrect. Additionally, the Appellate Court disagreed with the Trial Court’s emphasis on certain words in the husband’s testimony, viewing it as biased and inappropriate. The Appellate Court emphasized the mutual responsibilities of spouses in a marriage and rejected any notion of unequal treatment based on gender.

The Court remarked that “The Judge in the Court below was of the view that such incident as explicitly pleaded in the plaint with the specific date having not proved by the husband, the subsequent decision that in absence of any cross-examination or putting a question on such incident it would tantamount to an acceptance thereof does not appear to be correct. The emphasis on the word “still” appearing in the Examination-in-Chief of the respondent/husband appears to be misplaced and cannot lead to a loss of love and affection towards the other nor can be presumed to have a disharmony in the matrimonial relationship which has been withered subsequently. The word “still” should not be emphasised by the Judge in the negative sense more particularly, on the nuances of the cruelty which stands on a higher pedestal than of a normal wear and tear of a matrimonial life. Furthermore, filing an application for restitution of conjugal rights subsequent to the filing of an application for dissolution of marriage does not percolate a negative concept as held by the Judge.”

The Court further remarked that “Another incident of a complaint lodged by the appellant/wife with the police station and arrest of the respondent/husband and his mother is projected as an incident of cruelty. The evidence of the respondent/husband and the second witness on his behalf is clear indicative of the fact that there was no arrest as the respondent/husband and the mother was allowed to go home after certain enquiry without any bail being granted in this granted. Even the complaint (Exhibit-DW 1) does not constitute the elements of cruelty but a mere recording of an incident that the husband left the matrimonial home without intimating the appellant/wife who is residing in the matrimonial house. The observation of the learned Judge that in a happy marriage the wife provides the climate and husband the landscape is an archaic notion which has gradually eroded with the advancement of society in all respect.”

The Court concluded that the Trial Court appeared to be swayed by the emotions and inappropriate appreciation of the facts and, therefore, the findings made in the impugned judgment have no basis.

Thus, the Appellate Court set aside the Trial Court’s judgment and dismissed the husband’s application for dissolution of marriage, citing insufficient evidence to substantiate allegations of cruelty. Conversely, the wife’s application for restitution of conjugal rights was granted.

[Dipanwita Das v. Moloy Das, 2024 SCC OnLine Cal 2848, decided on 22-03-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the Appellant: M r. Sabyasachi Chatterjee, Adv. Mr. Dyutiman Banerjee, Adv. Mr. Sandipan Das, Adv. Mr. Subhrajit Saha, Adv. Ms. Anindita Chatterjee, Adv. Mr. Badrul Karim, Adv. Mr. Kiron Sk., Adv. Mr. Sanajit Roy, Adv. Mr. Saumava Ganguly, Adv.

For the Respondent: Mr. Swagata Dutta, Adv.

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