Delhi High Court | Allegations of unchastity and indecent familiarity with a person outside wedlock amounts cruelty

Marriage is a relationship which flourishes when nurtured with absolute trust and compassion but whittles down when sprinkled with accusations on character, fidelity and chastity of the spouse and becomes beyond redemption when the devastating effects of this one-sided barrage of accusations is topped with rejection of paternity and legitimacy of the innocent children, by their own father.

Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court: An appeal was filed by the appellant (husband) challenging the impugned judgment dated 31-10-2017 passed by the Trial Court dismissing the petition seeking divorce against wife on the grounds of cruelty. A division bench of Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Sharma, JJ. rejected the appeal and held that the appellant was not able to prove any of his allegations made against the wife.

The case under consideration involves a matrimonial discord between the appellant (petitioner) and the respondent (defendant) under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The petitioner, a divorcee employed with the Central Reserve Police Force, recounts the inception of his relationship with the respondent in 2004 through telephonic conversations, which culminated in a physical encounter in September of the same year. Subsequently, the respondent allegedly claimed pregnancy, prompting the petitioner to marry her in January 2005, only to discover later that the pregnancy assertion was false. The petitioner alleges that post-marriage, the respondent engaged in coercive behavior, pressuring him to resign from his government job and to claim his share of ancestral property. Additionally, he accuses her of neglect, abuse, and threats of suicide to extract financial benefits from him.

In contrast, the respondent presents a different narrative, alleging physical abuse, dowry harassment, and financial exploitation by the petitioner and his family. She claims that the petitioner’s resignation from his job was voluntary and driven by familial obligations rather than coercion from her. The deteriorating relationship between the petitioner and the respondent, marked by allegations of cruelty, neglect, and financial exploitation, ultimately led to the case’s filing. Both parties sought divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, citing various instances of mistreatment and misconduct within their marital bond.

The petitioner emphasized instances of alleged cruelty, neglect, and financial exploitation by the respondent, citing specific incidents such as her refusal to meet his parents, demands for property shares, and alleged extramarital affairs. Conversely, the respondent detailed instances of physical assault, extortion, and denial of parentage of their children by the petitioner.

The Court meticulously analyzed the evidence and arguments presented by both parties, noting inconsistencies in the petitioner’s narrative and the lack of specificity in his accusations against the respondent. Furthermore, the court condemned the petitioner’s refusal to accept parentage of his children and persistent allegations of infidelity against the respondent as acts of mental cruelty. The court underscored the gravity of such accusations and their detrimental impact on marital relationships. It emphasized the need for factual evidence, consistency in testimony, and adherence to legal standards in matrimonial disputes.

The Court remarked that “The Family Judge has rightly observed that levelling of disgusting allegations of unchastity and indecent familiarity with a person outside wedlock and allegations of extra-marital relationship, constitute grave assault on the character, honour, reputation, status as well as mental health of the spouse. Such scandalous, unsubstantiated aspersions of perfidiousness attributed to the spouse and not even sparing the children, would amount to the worst form of insult and cruelty, sufficient by disentitle the appellant from seeking divorce. This is one case where the appellant has himself committed the wrong and cannot be granted the benefit of divorce.”

The Court further remarked that “The relentless and incessant nature of the volley of allegations made by the appellant is also evident for the fact that initially, he had filed a Petition under Section 13(1)(i) of the Act, 1955 on the ground of adultery and cruelty with Mr. T. having been impleaded as respondent No. 2. It is MAT. APP. (F.C.) 118/2022 subsequently during the pendency of the proceedings, that the divorce on the ground of adultery and the name of the respondent 2 was deleted and the appellant confined his divorce on the grounds of cruelty. We find that the Judge, Family Court, has given cogent reasons while dismissing the Divorce Petition, which does not merit any interference.”

The Court dismissed the petitioner’s appeal against the Trial Court’s judgment and held that the petitioner failed to substantiate his allegations of cruelty against the respondent and found evidence pointing towards his own mistreatment and indifference towards his spouse.

[SS v SR, 2024 SCC OnLine Del 2982, decided on 22-04-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Ms. Juhi Arora and Ms. Saral Arora, Advocates with appellant in person

Mr. Karmanya Singh Choudhary, Advocate for respondent

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