Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Division Bench of Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and MR Shah, JJ., modifies the maintenance amount being to a son.

Grant of maintenance

Issue in the present appeals pertained to the grant of maintenance to the first respondent who was the minor son of appellant and second respondent.

First respondent was residing with his mother, the second respondent. Family Court had directed the appellant to pay maintenance at the rate of Rs 20,000 per month to the first respondent, further, the High Court had declined to entertain the revision.

Special Leave Petition

On 29th July, 2020, while entertaining the Special Leave Petition this Court had passed an order directing the petitioner to pay Rs 10,000 per month to his son and had added that the amount that has already been paid over shall be adjusted against the amount which is due and payable. Petitioner was also asked to filed his salary slips as on 31st March, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and for the period between January 2020 to July 2020 and along with this, the petitioner shall also explain the deduction being made from his salary.

Salary Slips

Petitioner had filed his salary slips as per this Court’s order as stated above.

Principal Submission urged by the Counsel for appellant, Chinmay Deshpande was that the payment of an amount of Rs 20,000 by way of maintenance would leave the appellant with virtually no resources to meet the maintenance requirements of his family which presently consists of his spouse and two minor children.

Gaurav Agarwal, Counsel on behalf of the respondents had submitted that the appellant cannot be excused from the obligation to maintain the first respondent, his minor son.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Supreme Court decided that it was inclined to modify the order of Family Court which was affirmed by the High Court.

Bench stated that the deduction being suffered by the appellant from his salary were largely in the realm of statutory and compulsory deductions which were made from the monthly income.

“Deductions which were being suffered by the appellant from his salary were largely in the realm of statutory and compulsory deductions which were made from the monthly income.”

 Further, the appellant had shown his bona fides by paying an amount of Rs 6.64 lakhs and also made a disclosure of his salary slips. Payment of Rs 20,000 per month to the first respondent would leave no resources to maintain his other two children and family.

In view of the above, some scaling down was required. But an arrangement to provide maintenance to the first respondent until he completes his first-degree course after High School will be necessary so that the first respondent becomes self-supporting and can live in dignity.

Bench added that it is conscious of the fact that by this Order the Court is extending the period for maintenance, however in issuing the said direction, the Court has borne in mind two significant aspects:

firstly, the maintenance payable by the appellant has been reduced from rupees twenty thousand per month to rupees ten thousand per month;

and secondly the past arrears have been capped at the amount of Rs 6.64 lacs which has already been paid.

Therefore, in view of the facts and circumstances along with the needs of the minor child, Court opined that the appeals should be disposed of in terms of the following directions:

  • Amount of Rs 6.64 lakhs which has been paid by the appellant towards the arrears of maintenance of the first respondent shall be treated as a full and final payment as of 28 February 2021
  • Commencing from 1 March 2021 and for the period until 31 March 2022, the appellant shall pay a monthly maintenance of Rs 10,000 towards the expenses of the first respondent. The amount shall be paid no later than the tenth day of each succeeding month commencing from 10 March 2021. In the event that the second respondent nominates a bank account for that purpose, the appellant shall ensure a transfer of funds in the electronic mode to the nominated bank account. If this arrangement is not suitable, the money shall be paid over by Demand Draft on or before the tenth day of every succeeding month for the maintenance of the first respondent;
  • Amount of monthly maintenance shall stand increased by Rs 1000 per month commencing from 1 April 2022. For succeeding years, the amount of maintenance shall similarly stand increased by a further amount of Rs 1000 per month commencing from the first day of April; and
  • Appellant shall pay maintenance for the first respondent on the above basis for a period of six years commencing from 1 April 2021 until 31 March 2027 or until the first respondent completes his first degree course, whichever is earlier. This direction is intended to ensure that the first respondent shall be maintained by the appellant until he completes his basic education ending with a first degree course after he completes his high school education.

In view of the above directions, appeal were disposed of. [Chandrashekar v. Swapnil, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 656, decided on 4-03-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: A Division Bench of Prashant Kumar Mishra and N.K. Chandravanshi, JJ., reversed a decree of judicial separation passed by the trial court, and instead passed a decree of divorce by mutual consent as originally prayed for the parties.

The parties got married in 2017. However, they remained together only for 2 days, and thereafter never lived as husband and wife. After one year of the marriage, they preferred a joint application for divorce by mutual consent under Section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The application was signed, verified and supported by both parties by filing their respective affidavits. They were examined before the trial court after completion of 6 months cooling-off period. In their deposition also, they stood by their decision to seek divorce by mutual consent. However, the trial Court refused to pass a decree of divorce by mutual consent and instead passed a decree for judicial separation for a period of one year. Aggrieved, the wife approached the High Court in the instant appeal.

The High Court noted that while granting a decree for judicial separation in place of a decree of divorce by mutual consent, the trial court referred to the provisions contained in Section 13-A of the Hindu Marriage Act, which provides that in any proceeding under this Act, on a petition for dissolution of marriage by a decree of divorce, except in so far as the petition is founded on the grounds mentioned in clauses (ii), (vi) and (vii) of sub-section (1) of Section 13, the court may, if it considers it just so to do having regard to the circumstances of the case, pass instead a decree for judicial separation.

Discussing further, the Court stated that the provisions contained in Section 13-A would attract only when the trial court is satisfied “having regard to the circumstances of the case” that it considers it just to pass a decree for judicial separation instead of mutual divorce. The phrase “having regard to the circumstances of the case” requires the trial court to find out the circumstances which compels it to pass a decree for judicial separation. Unless such circumstances exist, the trial court is not entitled to pass a decree for judicial separation in a mechanical manner.

While passing the impugned decree, the trial court observed that the period of their staying together is so short that it is not possible that any serious dispute would have arisen between the parties. The trial court assumed that the dispute between the parties might not be of such intensity which would force them to seek divorce by mutual consent.

Disapproving such approach, the High Court said that the provisions contained in Section 13-B does not provide for existence of a ground like the ones contained in Section 13 for grant of divorce by mutual consent. There need not be a serious dispute between a married couple for seeking a divorce by mutual consent. It may happen in a given case that there is no quarrel or dispute between the couple but yet their actions and behaviour are not compatible with each other for living a happy and peaceful married life, therefore, they may seek divorce by mutual consent. If an application is otherwise duly constituted and properly presented before the court, it is not for the court to search for a ground or a reason, which has compelled the parties to seek divorce by mutual consent.  

In conclusion, the Court was of the opinion that having regard to the fact that the parties presented the application under Section 13-B by appearing before the trial court on 13-3-2018 and thereafter, again appeared on several dates, the trial Court should have passed the decree of divorce by mutual consent instead of decree for judicial separation. Therefore, the appeal was allowed and a decree of divorce by mutual consent was passed. [Sandhya Sen v. Sanjay Sen, 2021 SCC OnLine Chh 1888, decided on 6-4-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: The Division Bench of Prashant Kumar Mishra and N.K. Chandravanshi, JJ., while finding error in trial court’s decision held that wife attempting to commit suicide and consistently showing abnormality in her behaviour by pressing neck of daughter and husband, jumping to neighbour’s roof will amount to mental cruelty forming ground of dissolution of marriage.

Appellant was aggrieved by the impugned judgment and decree passed by the Family Court dismissing his application under Section 13(1)(i—a) of the Hindu Marriage Act for grant of divorce.

Factual Matrix

Parties were married and their daughter was now residing with the respondent/wife.

It was submitted that from the very next day of the marriage respondent insisted to leave the matrimonial house, but on persuasion stayed for 5-6 days and called her mother to return to her parental house and did not come back for 15-20 days.

Later respondent’s mother informed the elderly persons of the society that she is a schizophrenic, which was not informed to the appellant before the marriage.

Incidents of abnormal behaviour

She used to call elderly persons in the in-laws’ family by their name and on one night she jumped to the neighbour’s house from the roof of appellant’s house. She used to leave her matrimonial house every now and then without any rhyme or reason. When the appellant and other family members objected to her behaviour she used to filthily abuse them and locked the door from inside.

Respondent denied all the allegations.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Decisions pertaining to the concept of mental cruelty were referred to. In the Supreme Court decision of Samar Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh, (2007) 4 SCC 511, illustrative cases where inference of mental cruelty could be drawn was indicated.

Supreme Court decision in V. Bhagat v. D. Bhagat, (1994) 1 SCC 337, held that mental cruelty in Section 13(1)(i—a) can broadly be defined as that conduct which inflicts upon the other party such mental pain and suffering as would make it not possible for that party to live with the other.

Mental cruelty must be of such a nature that the parties cannot reasonably be expected to live together.

In Naveen Kohli v Neelu Kohli, (2006) 4 SCC 558, the Supreme Court held that the word “cruelty” has to be understood in the ordinary sense of the term in matrimonial affairs. If the intention to harm, harass or hurt could be inferred by the nature of the conduct or brutal act complained of, cruelty could be easily established. But the absence of intention should not make any difference in the case.

In view of the above decisions, Court in the present matter stated that in light of the facts of the case, it can be seen that the respondent-wife admitted to attempting to commit suicide and assaulting her mother-in-law.

As per the evidence placed, it was stated that the respondent once jumped from the roof to fall in the neighbour’s house and tried to strangulate her daughter and husband. There have also been instances of respondent-wife leaving the house during the night hours wearing white saree without putting bangles and vermilion on the forehead.

Hence, considering the instance as stated above along with the psychiatrist treatment, Bench held that it was sufficient to prove that her conduct amounted to sustained reprehensible unjustifiable conduct affecting physical and mental health of the appellant.

When she attempts to commit suicide, this singular act by itself amounts to causing such mental cruelty, which is beyond repair.

Bench noted that in the present case there was consistent irresponsible or abnormal behaviour of the respondent, therefore, when the entire married life is reviewed as a whole, inference was that the relationship was being deteriorated and it was extremely difficult for the appellant-husband to live with respondent-wife.

While concluding the decision High Court expressed that the wife was guilty of committing mental cruelty, furnishing a ground for dissolution of marriage.

Trial Court committed an error in not appreciating the evidence, hence the impugned judgment and decree was set aside. [Rajeshwar Prasad Kaushal v. Gayatri Kaushal, 2021 SCC OnLine Chh 799, decided on 31-03-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For Appellant Mr D.N. Prajapati, Advocate

For Respondent Mr C.K. Sahu, Advocate

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: Rajendra Chandra Singh Samant, J. sets aside the impugned order and allowed the petition.

The facts of the case are such that the respondent in a fraudulent manner obtained a decree of divorce which was granted on mutual consent. The petitioner filed First Appeal (Misc.) which was disposed of and the petitioner was granted liberty to file application under Section 151 of the CPC to challenge the decree of divorce mentioned hereinabove. The petitioner then, filed an application under Section 151 of the CPC, which was registered wherein the petitioner moved an application under Section 24 of the Act, 1955, praying for grant of maintenance during the pendency of the proceeding and the same has been dismissed by the impugned order. Aggrieved by the same, an instant petition was filed under Article 227 of the Constitution of India.

Counsel for petitioners submitted that the proceeding under Section 151 of the CPC is the outcome of the proceeding of divorce, which was filed under the provisions of the Act, 1955. Therefore, the petitioner had entitlement for such maintenance during pendency of the proceeding. He further submitted that such prayer can be made in any proceeding, therefore, this proceeding under Section 151 of the CPC.

Counsel for the respondents submitted that the proceeding initiated on the application filed under Section 151 of the CPC, is not under the Act, 1955.

The Court relied on Suresh Kumar Verma v. Smt. Hemlata Verma, 2001 (2) JLJ 93 wherein it was held

“….the language used in Section 24 of the Act has to be construed in a purposive manner so that, the purpose of the Legislature is achieved. It cannot be said that the Legislature while using the words any proceeding under this Act’ intended to confine it only to the substantive proceedings. The purpose of the aforesaid provision is to provide financial assistance to the indigent spouses during their indigency. There is nothing under Section 24 of the Act to suggest that there is prohibition against matrimonial Courts from granting maintenance allowance when the main petition is not pending. If such an interpretation is allowed it will only affect the interest of the spouse who is not in a position to maintain himself or herself. A narrower interpretation would frustrate the purpose of the provision.”

The Court thus observed that the language used in Section 24 of the Act, 1955 has to be construed in a purposive manner and the proceeding under Order 9 Rule 13 of the CPC also attracts the provision under Section 24 of the Act, 1955.

The Court held that in view of the wide interpretation given to the provisions it is clear that the entitlement of the petitioner to make prayer under Section 24 of the Act, 1955 is available in the present proceeding.

In view of the above, the petition was allowed.[Rashmita Patel v. Vivekananda Patel, 2021 SCC OnLine Chh 569, decided on 05-03-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: Rajendra Chandra Singh Samant J., allowed the petition and quashed the impugned order.

The facts of the case are such that the marriage of petitioner 1 with petitioner 2 was solemnized on 17-02-2016. Because of differences between them, they started living separately on 10-01-2018. It was almost after two years; application under Section 13 (1B) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 was filed on 28-01-2021. The learned Family Court directed for counselling of the parties, which failed, regarding pursuant to which the case was posted for after six months in accordance with Section 13B (2) of the Act, 1955 which provides for cooling period. The petitioners then filed an application for waiving off the cooling period, which was dismissed by the impugned order. The instant writ petition was filed under Article 227 of the Constitution of India, for quashing the impugned order.

Counsel for the petitioners submitted that application under Section 13 (1B) of the Act, 1955, praying for decree of divorce on mutual consent has been filed jointly. It was further submitted that the impugned order has been erroneously passed in light of the law laid down in Amardeep Singh v. Harveen Kaur, (2017) 8 SCC 746.

In Amardeep Singh v. Harveen Kaur, (2017) 8 SCC 746 it was laid down

“19. Applying the above to the present situation, we are of the view that where the Court dealing with a matter is satisfied that a case is made out to waive the statutory period under Section 13B(2), it can do so after considering the following :

(i) the statutory period of six months specified in Section 13B(2), in addition to the statutory period of one year under Section 13B(1) of separation of parties is already over before the first motion itself;

(ii) all efforts for mediation/conciliation including efforts in terms of Order XXXIIA Rule 3 CPC/Section 23(2) of the Act/Section 9 of the Family Courts Act to reunite the parties have failed and there is no likelihood of success in that direction by any further efforts;

(iii) the parties have genuinely settled their differences including alimony, custody of child or any other pending issues between the parties;

(iv) the waiting period will only prolong their agony.

The Court observed that the facts present in this case disclose that the petitioners have resided more than one year separately, therefore, the requirement under Section 13B (1) of the Act, 1955, has completed. Thereafter, the petition under Section 13 (1B) of the Act, 1955 has been filed on 28-01-2021, therefore, a further requirement of cooling period of six months under Section 13B(2) of the Act, 1955, has also been completed. Further, counselling procedure is also over, which has failed.

The Court thus held that, under these circumstances, and as per the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in Amardeep Singh (Supra), it was a fit case, in which, the petitioners should have been benefited with the relief as they had prayed for.

In view of the above, impugned order was set aside and petition was allowed.[Raju Kumar In re, 2021 SCC OnLine Chh 564, decided on 15-03-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: T. Raja and G. Chandrasekharan, JJ., addressed a matter wherein wife approaches the wife appealed against the family court’s decision of dissolving her marriage solemnised with the respondent, on grounds of cruelty.

Bhuvaneswari, wife of S.K. Jayakumar brought forth the instant appeal on being aggrieved by the decision of the family court, dissolving the marriage under Section 13(1)(i—a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 accepting the case of the respondent/husband that the appellant/wife caused mental cruelty under Section 13(1)(i—a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

Analysis

High Court while deciding the matter observed that the wife made wrong statements before the Court blowing hot and cold. Further, it was also noted that once when the husband met with an accident and was an inpatient for 45 days, appellant or her family member refused to visit him which clearly implies that the wife miserably failed to show any iota of trust as a dutiful wife to her husband.

Another significant point was that after the decree of divorce by the husband was filed, nothing prevents the wife to move an application invoking Section 9 of the HMA for restitution of conjugal rights.

The above clearly describes that situation wherein the wife at no pint was showing any interest to resume or rejoin the matrimonial home.

Bench noted that the trial court rightly relied on the decision of the Division Bench of this Court in the case of Suguna v. Kubendiran, (2017) 1 CTC 695, wherein it was held that if the acts of the wife are of such quality or magnitude and consequence as to cause pain, agony and suffering on the husband, the same would amount to cruelty in matrimonial law for granting the decree of divorce. Supreme Court in its decision of Pankaj Mahajan v. Dimple, (2011) 12 SCC 1 has laid down several instances of cruelty.

In the present case, the husband has stated that the wife had been insulting his parents and quarrelling with him and abusing him every now and then. Besides she had been behaving in an abnormal manner, causing great mental cruelty to the respondent/husband.

Therefore, the Court stated that the facts and pleadings clearly show that the conduct of the wife towards her husband was substantiated and hence they started to live separately for more than 7 long years.

In view of the above chain of marital life, there is no possibility for the parties to unite, hence the decision passed by the trial court was correct and no infirmity was found. [Bhuvaneswari v. S.K. Jayakumar, 2021 SCC OnLine Mad 371, decided on 20-01-2021]


Advocates for the parties:

For Appellant: G. Saravanabhavan

For Respondent: S. Xavier Felix

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Pushpa V. Ganediwala, J., addressed the following substantial questions of law:

  • Whether it is necessary for the wife to file an application in writing to grant permanent alimony under Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955?
  • Whether wife can claim maintenance under Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, as she is divorcee, after passing the decree of divorce?

Counsels representing both the parties had a consensus that Section 25 of the Act does permit the divorcee spouse to claim maintenance from the other spouse even subsequent to the passing of the decree of divorce, subject to certain conditions.

Court below failed to consider the wife’s prayer for permanent alimony under Section 25 of the Act.

Bench stated that various other High Courts including this High Court have held that the word ‘application’ as referred to in Section 25 of the Act i.e. ‘on an application made to it’ does not specify as to whether it is oral application or application in writing. Adding to this observation, Court stated that a broader view of Section 25 of the Act is to be taken considering the object and purpose for the inclusion of this provision in the Act.

In Madras High Court’s decision of Umarani v. D. Vivekannandan, 2000 SCC OnLine Mad 50, it was held that there is no need of written application under Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act and permanent alimony and maintenance can be granted on the basis of oral application.

Madhya Pradesh High Court, in Surajmal Ramchandra Khati v. Rukminibai, 1999 SCC OnLine MP 87, held that merely because the wife had not presented a separate application praying for grant of permanent alimony, it cannot be said that she is not entitled to the same.

In view of the above discussion, Bench expressed that in terms of Section 25 of the Act, for granting the relief of permanent alimony, the Court has to consider the respondent’s own income and other property, if any, the income and other property of the applicant, the conduct of the parties and other circumstances of the case, it may seem to the court to be just.

In the case of a decree by mutual consent, if relief for permanent alimony is sought, there is no occasion for the Court to observe the conduct of the parties, to examine their financial stability and other circumstances of the case to pass any order of permanent alimony at the time of passing of the decree of divorce by mutual consent. Essential element is that the Court should be able to comprehend the financial position and conduct of parties to pass permanent alimony order.

Appellant had narrated the financial status of the respondent-husband in her affidavit before the Court and she prayed to keep open the issue of permanent alimony for its consideration later on.

Since the appellate court dismissed the appeal on a misplaced ground of marital tie not subsisting, the said order is to be set aside.

On observing and noting the above discussion, Court opined that ‘application’ as referred to in Section 25 of the Act implies any application either in writing or oral for seeking permanent alimony and maintenance. Mode and form of the application under Section 25 of the Act are immaterial. The order in this regard cannot be passed in a vacuum.

Therefore, the matter is remanded to the trial court in order to decide the issue of permanent alimony. [Vijayshree v. Dr Nishant Arvind Kale, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 29, decided on 08-01-2021]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

South Africa High Court, Kwazulu-Natal Division: Bezuidenhout, J. while adjourning the application sine die granted the applicant leave to amend her papers and file a supplementary affidavit.

The applicant, Amina Dawood, under Rule 43 of the Rules of this Court brought an application against respondent claiming pendente lite maintenance for herself and for two minor children.

Respondent in his counter-affidavit contended that the issue of maintenance between the parties had been resolved after the parties were divorced in terms of Islamic Law. As the applicant abandoned the matrimonial home she was not entitled to any further maintenance.

It was stated in the respondent’s affidavit that the marriage was not registered in terms of any statutory provisions. As well as there was no recognised marriage and no legal proceedings pending and therefore Rule 43 does not apply.

Counsel for the applicant, E.J. Vawda submitted that similar orders have been granted in other divisions where the parties had been married by Islamic Rights. He referred a decision of Tasneem Mahomed v. Zaki Jasat, 2195 of 2015, wherein such relief was granted, even though the parties were married in terms of Islamic Rights and divorced in terms thereof.

The Court in view of the above submission observed that in case referred above and some similar cases, relief was sought by way of a declaration of some sort and the relief in terms of Rule 43 is still pending for finalisation of such litigation. It was thus pendente lite. The Court further observed that due to the legislative process not having been finalised, Islamic Marriages are presently not yet recognised as valid marriages in terms of the Marriage Act and therefore a decree of divorce cannot be granted. [Amina Dawood v. Suleman Rahaman, Case No. 6578 of 2019, decided on 28-10-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: The Division Bench of S.N. Satyanarayana and P.G.M. Patil, JJ. allowed this appeal and remanded the matter back to the Principal Judge, Family Court.

In this instant case, the Respondent – wife in M.C. No. 268 of 2016 before the Family Court, Hubballi has appealed impugning the judgment of the Principal Judge. The petition of the aforesaid M.C. No. 268 of 2016 was filed by the husband of the Respondent (herein appellant). 

Their marriage took place on 11.05.2011 and they have a son. The appellant alleged that the husband/respondent threw her out of the matrimonial house on 01.07.2015. Thereafter, she went to her parental house in Rajasthan and filed a petition in F.C. No. 53 of 2018 under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 seeking restitution of conjugal rights. Meanwhile, the husband secured a decree of divorce in M.C. No. 268 of 2016. 

The wife came to know from the certified copy of the judgment of the Principal Judge that the husband filed the matrimonial case by giving wrong address of the wife and therefore the notice never reached the wife and thereby securing a decree of divorce ex parte.

After having heard both the counsels for appellant (H.R. Gundappa) and respondent (Gurudev Gachchinamath), the Court observed that there were instances where the respondent – husband could have informed the appellant – wife about the proceedings in the Court but did not. The Husband kept it from the wife. Therefore, it is clear from the very face of it that the decree was secured with malafide intentions so as to curtail the right of his wife and maintenance of minor son. The Court also gave light to how the decree was granted. The decree was granted without appreciating the material on record and also by not following the statutory provisions which are required to be seen by the Court below while considering granting the decree of divorce. Hence, the decree was set aside.[Renu v. Kamalesh, 2019 SCC OnLine Kar 1655, decided on 29-08-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: The Division Bench comprising of Narendra Singh Dhaddha and Mohammad Rafiq, JJ. allowed a decree of divorce which was filed through a joint application under Section 13 B(1) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

In the present case, a joint application was filed by the husband and wife under Section 13B (1) of HMA, for dissolution of their marriage. Along with this, they also filed an application under Section 13B (2) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for waiver of the cooling-off period.

Further, the above was filed in the family court and dismissed thereafter. Hence the present appeal has been filed challenging the said order.

Parties stated that the marriage could not be consummated fro inability of the husband and there is absolutely no possibility of the parties living together. In such circumstances, they both started living separately and decided to obtain a decree of divorce.

Counsel on behalf of the parties submitted that the application filed under Section 13 B (1) of the stated Act clearly mentions that the parties have been living separately from last more than 1 year. Further, it has been stated in the application that, wife received all her ‘stridhan’ and dowry articles along with a sum of Rs 15, 00,000 as permanent alimony.

In order to support the above submission, counsel relied on the Judgments of the Supreme Court in Veena v. State (Govt. of NCT, Delhi) (2011) 14 SCC 614; Devinder Singh Narula v. Meenakshi Nangia, (2012) 8 SCC 580 and Amardeep Singh v. Harveen Kaur, (2017) 8 SCC 746.

The High Court, on noting the submissions of the parties along with keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case, stated that, the compromise arrived between the parties persuaded the court to allow the said appeal and therefore the marriage is to be dissolved with immediate effect.[Sachin Gupta v. Ram Kumari Gupta, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 2402, decided on 22-08-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: The Division Bench comprising of Prashant Kumar Mishra and Gautam Chourdiya, JJ. allowed an appeal to grant a decree of divorce in favour of the appellant-husband for being subjected to mental cruelty by the wife.

The present appeal calls in questions the legality, validity and the propriety of the judgment passed by the trial court in which it had dismissed the appellant/plaintiff’s suit for grant of decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty and desertion.

Submissions by the appellant

Appellant submitted that the respondent-wife was not paying proper respect to his parents and used to instruct his mother to prepare meals as per her menu. Respondent wife had returned to her parental house after a few days of marriage and returned after repeated requests and that is when she started pressurizing the appellant to live separately.

Appellant states that even after accepting all her demands, there was no change in her attitude and behaviour. To make the situation worse, she filed a false complaint of demand of dowry, after which she again returned to her parental house and never joined back the company of the appellant-husband.

Therefore, based on the above circumstances, the plaintiff/appellant prayed for a decree of divorce on the ground of mental cruelty and desertion.

Respondent wife denied all the above allegations and in fact pleaded that she was subjected to cruelty, her in-laws retained the Streedhan properties and appellant threatened her that he will obtain a divorce and remarry. Further, she categorically stated that she is willing to join the company of the appellant.

Observation

On perusal of the pleadings and depositions, it was noted that the appellant had been making allegations that the respondent impleaded him, his parents and other relatives in a false criminal case for offence under Sections 498-A and 323 of Penal Code, 1860.

Trial Magistrate had acquitted the accused persons of the charges under Sections 498-A/34 and 323 IPC. Further, it was noted that, the respondent-wife stated that she was subjected to disrespectful and indecent behaviour by the appellant and his family members. Allegation of cruelty and demand of dowry or causing simple hurt was not found by the Trial Magistrate

In the present suit when respondent-wife was examined, a specific question was asked to her that, whether she is willing to reside with the appellant, to which she answered with an emphatic ‘NO’, ‘Never’.

The above makes it clear that she made false allegations along with that she was also not willing to reside with the appellant and all of this was contrary to her own pleading.

Held

The High Court, while relying on the law laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of K. Srinivas Rao v. D.A. Deepa, (2013) 5 SCC 226 in which it was observed that:

“Scandalous, vulgar and defamatory statement by the wife against the mother of the appellant causes mental cruelty to the husband.”

Adding to the above observation, it was also stated that wife failing to prove her complaint in which she has placed unfounded, indecent and defamatory allegation would all amount to causing mental cruelty.

Therefore, in the present case, the respondent-wife made allegations which she had failed to prove and the allegations were to the extent of scandalous and indecent ones against the father-in-law along with the demand of dowry and causing simple hurt, which were all false.

Thus, the appeal to grant the decree of divorce in favour of the appellant to dissolve the marriage between the parties was allowed. [Chandan Singh v. Sangeeta Singh, 2019 SCC OnLine Chh 89, decided on 20-08-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: Madhumati Mitra, J. dismissed an application filed by the petitioner to quash the order of the Additional Sessions Judge whereby he refused to stay the petition filed by his former wife for the execution of the maintenance order granted in her favour by the Magistrate.

By the order passed under Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, the Magistrate had directed the petitioner to pay Rs 3000 + Rs 800 per month to his former wife. Subsequent to that order, the petitioner obtained an ex-parte divorce decree against his former wife. After the said decree, the petitioner filed an application under Section 25, praying for alteration/modification or revocation of the maintenance order on the ground that he is not liable to pay to his former wife as no domestic relationship between them subsist.

Before the High Court, the petitioner was represented by Siva Prosad Ghose, Chandra Bhanu Sinha and Rohit Kumar Shaw, Advocates. Per contra, the former wife was represented by Anand Kesari and Sekhar Mukherjee, Advocates.

After referring to the relevant provisions of the DV Act along with Section 125 CrPC, and a conspectus of cases on the subject, the High Court observed: “Decree of divorce does not deprive the wife of the relief granted in her favour under the provisions of the Act of 2005. After decree of divorce, the Opposite Party 2 has become a divorced wife.”

The Court was of the opinion that our law recognises the right of a divorced wife to get maintenance till her remarriage, under Section 125 CrPC. The DV Act provides additional rights and remedies to the aggrieved person.

Finally, it was noted: “Existence of domestic relationship is not needed to execute the order granted under Section 12 of the Act of 2005 and the divorced wife who got an order of maintenance and other relief under the Act of 2005 prior to the decree of divorce is entitled to execute the same if she is unable to maintain herself and she has not remarried and for other reasons.”

In such view of the matter, the Court decided the application against the petitioner, and accordingly dismissed the same.[Krishnendu Das Thakur v. State of W.B., 2019 SCC OnLine Cal 969, decided on 28-06-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: Lok Pal Singh, J. dismissed a writ petition where mandamus was sought to direct the Principal Judge of Family Court to decide the matter of petitioner under Section 13-B of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and grant a decree of divorce based on mutual consent.

The factual matrix of the case was the petitioner and respondent both filed a joint petition in the Family Court for divorce by mutual consent. The petitioner contended that on the first date of hearing in Family Court both parties appeared and a due date after six months was fixed for the appearance. But on subsequent dates the respondent-wife was absent, hence he had no knowledge that whether the case is pending or divorce had been granted.

Learned counsel for the petitioner, Karan Anand, relied on a judgment in Suman v. Surendra Kumar, 2002 SCC OnLine Raj 111, where Rajasthan High Court decided a similar matter where the respondent was the husband and he absented himself from the Court hearing, in such case the Court had held, “This is a case of total silence on the part of the husband on the question of consent at the stage of the second motion. Should we infer the negative from silence? We are of the view that if the husband wanted to withdraw his consent he should have taken a positive stand for that purpose. There was nothing which prevented him from informing the Court that he was withdrawing his consent for decree of divorce by mutual consent. When the husband has himself left the matter for inference, the inference ought to be drawn in favor of consent rather than for absence of consent. The husband had already given his consent for the decree of divorce at the time of the first motion and he alone could withdraw the consent by a positive act, otherwise, the inference would be that the consent which was initially given continues.” Thus, the Court granted a divorce by mutual consent ex-parte.

The Court observed that case referred by the learned counsel for petitioner i.e. Suman v. Surendra, 2002 SCC OnLine Raj 111,, initially the appeal filed by the wife against the decision of the Family Court rejecting an application under Section 13-B of Act, 1955 was dismissed by the Rajasthan High Court. Subsequently, on the review application, a decree of divorce was granted on the basis of mutual consent thereby dissolving the marriage between the parties under Section 13-B of the Act, whereas, in the present case, there is no such order of the Family Court, on record, rejecting or allowing the petition under Section 13-B. Court further noted that although petitioner filed an order sheet stating that respondent was absent on several dates and in the interest of justice adjournments were made, the fact that whether the initial divorce petition is decided by the Court in any form is still a question which was not known to the Court. Based on aforementioned observations Court held that “direction sought by the petitioner is not legally maintainable as no higher court can issue a direction to a subordinate court to pass judgment or decree in favour of either of the parties.”[Rajeev Mandrawal v. Renu Mandrawal, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 442, decided on 10-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Division bench comprising of Rajiv Sharma and Alok Singh, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed against the judgment of Family Court, granting a decree of divorce, for want of substantiation of the appellant-wife’s allegations against the respondent-husband.

Facts of the case were that marriage was solemnized between the parties as per Hindu rites and ceremonies. Immediately after their marriage, a few differences cropped up between them and the appellant/ wife left the matrimonial home after seven months of marriage as she wanted to stay away from her in-laws. The respondent was working in Indian Army and posted in Kanpur. In order to maintain peace in his marital life, he took the appellant along with him to Kanpur where they stayed in the government-allotted quarters. However, their disputes continued and in the meantime, respondent got transferred to Arunachal Pradesh. He could not take the appellant along with him over there due to duty restrictions and sent her back to his parents’ home. After two months, the appellant left her matrimonial home and made complaints to the superior officers of respondent; pursuant to which the respondent/ husband sent her a legal notice to stop harassing him. Thereafter, the appellant along with her parents threatened to implicate him in a dowry case and filed a case under Section 125 CrPC. The respondent also filed a suit under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 which was decreed vide impugned judgment.

The High Court perused entire evidence on record and noted that there were several inconsistencies in the appellant’s statements – on one hand, she stated that she wanted to live with her husband and on the other hand, she stated that she has a threat to her life from him. Further, the appellant had failed to produce any witness or documentary evidence in support of her bare allegations of harassment, torture, and demand for dowry. While she contended of having complained to the respondent’s senior officers at Kanpur, no copy of the complaint was filed by her. She also alleged demand for dowry, harassment and that her husband wanted to have a second marriage but had failed to substantiate all of her allegations.

As such, the High Court opined that the Family Court had appreciated and discussed the evidence on record elaborately and there was no infirmity in the impugned judgment. On this holding, the instant appeal was dismissed. [Sangeeta Bhakuni v. Pushkar Singh Bhakuni,2018 SCC OnLine Utt 868, decided on 28-09-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of S.A. Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao, JJ. allowed an appeal filed against the judgment of Delhi High Court whereby the marriage between the appellant and the respondent was held void.

The interesting factual matrix of the case is that, earlier, the appellant was married to one Rachna Agarwal. In August 2009, she had filed a divorce petition under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 which was allowed by the Additional District Judge and thus their marriage was dissolved. The appellant filed an appeal against the decree in the High Court. During pendency of the appeal, the appellant and the said Rachna Agarwal reached a settlement. Pursuant to the settlement, the appellant filed an application for withdrawing the appeal. It is pertinent to note that the settlement was reached on 15-10-2011; the application for withdrawal was filed on 28-11-2011, and the High Court dismissed the appeal as withdrawn on 20-12-2011. In the meanwhile, on 6-12-2011, the appellant married the respondent. Subsequently, consequent to matrimonial discord, the respondent filed a petition for declaring the marriage void under Section 5(i) read with Section 11. The main ground being that the appellant married the respondent during pendency of appeal against the decree of divorce from his first wife. The family court dismissed the respondent’s petition. However, on appeal, the High Court declared the marriage between the appellant and the respondent as null and void. Aggrieved by the same, the appellant filed the instant appeal.

To adjudicate the issue, the Supreme Court, inter alia, perused Section 15 of the Act. The Court observed that the section provides that it shall be lawful for either party to marry again after dissolution of marriage if there is no right to appeal against the decree. A second marriage by either party is lawful only after dismissal of an appeal against the decree of divorce is filed. The object of the provision was observed to provide protection to the appellant party and ensure that the said appeal is not frustrated. The purpose of the section is to avert complications that would arise due to a second marriage during pendency of the appeal, in case the decree of dissolution of marriage is reversed. The protection that is afforded is primarily to a person who is contesting a decree of divorce. In the instant case, after entering into the settlement as mentioned hereinabove, the appellant did not want to contend the decree of divorce. His intention was made clear by filing the application for withdrawal of appeal. The Court was of the view that it could not be said that he had to wait till a formal order was passed in the appeal, or otherwise his marriage dated 6-12-2011 was unlawful. Following the principles of purposive construction, the Court held that the restriction placed on second marriage under Section 15 till dismissal of an appeal would not apply to a case where parties have settled the matter and decided not to pursue the appeal. The judgment of the High Court annulling the marriage between appellant and respondent was held to be erroneous. Accordingly, the judgment impugned was set aside and the appeal was allowed. [Anurag Mittal v. Shaily Mishra Mittal, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 1136, dated 24-08-2018]