Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of S.S. Shinde and Abhay Ahuja, JJ., reiterated the observation of Supreme Court in Gian Singh v. State of Punjab, (2012) 10 SCC 303, while quashing an FIR registered for offences under Sections 498(A), 406, 504, 323, 34 of the Penal Code and Sections 3, 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, on the ground of matter being resolved amicably.

Factual Matrix

Due to differences between the husband and wife, they sought a divorce and a petition was filed before the Family Court, Bandra which was later converted into mutual consent divorce petition under Section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

High Court stated that considering the fact that a matrimonial dispute which sought to be amicably resolved, the Court deemed it appropriate to seek guidance from the Supreme Court decision in Gian Singh v. State of Punjab, (2012) 10 SCC 303, wherein it was observed that:

“…the criminal cases having overwhelmingly and pre-dominatingly civil favour stand on different footing for the purposes of quashing, particularly the offences arising from commercial, financial, mercantile, civil, partnership or such like transactions or the offences arising out of matrimony relating to dowry, etc. or the family disputes where the wrong is basically private or personal in nature and the parties have resolved their entire dispute. In this category of cases, High Court may quash criminal proceedings if in its view, because of the compromise between the offender and victim, the possibility of conviction is remote and bleak and continuation of criminal case would put accused to great oppression and prejudice and extreme injustice would be caused to him by not quashing the criminal case despite full and complete settlement and compromise with the victim. In other words, the High Court must consider whether it would be unfair or contrary to the interest of justice to continue with the criminal proceeding or continuation of the criminal proceeding would tantamount to abuse of process of law despite settlement and compromise between the victim and wrongdoer and whether to secure the ends of justice, it is appropriate that criminal case is put to an end and if the answer to the above question(s) is in affrmative, the High Court shall be well within its jurisdiction to quash the criminal proceeding.”

Bench added that the present matter involved offences arising out of matrimony and was basically private in nature and the parties sought to resolve their entire dispute and due to the compromise between them, the possibility of conviction would be remote and bleak and continuation of criminal case would lead to great prejudice or injustice.

Therefore, in view of the above discussion, petition was allowed while allowing the below prayer clause:

“a. That this Hon’ble Court be pleased to quash and set aside the FIR No.256 of 2019, registered by Vikhroli Police Station at Mumbai, under Sections 498(A), 406, 504, 323, 34 of Indian Penal Code, and 3, 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act dated 19.06.2019 and Criminal Case No.959/PW/2020 and pending before Ld. 31st Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court at Vikhroli, Mumbai, and further be pleased to discharge the Petitioners from C.C. No.256 of 2019 under Sections 498(A), 406, 504, 323, 34 of Indian Penal Code, and 3, 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act.” 

Petition was disposed of in the above terms. [Yuvraj Raman Jadhav v. State of Maharashtra, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 780, decided on 1-06-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Ms. Anushka Shreshtha for the Petitioners.

Mr.J.P. Yagnik, APP for the Respondent-State.

Mr. Jayesh Bhosle for Respondent No.2.

Mr. Yuvraj R. Jadhav – Petitioner No.1 present through V.C.

Mrs. Madhuri Jadhav (maiden name–Madhuri Sawant)-Respondent No.2 present through V.C.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: The Bench of Arun Monga, J., allowed waiver statutory period of 6 months for dissolution of marriage and granted divorce to the couple entrapped in an irretrievably broken marriage.

The petitioners had approached the Court under Article 227 of Constitution for setting aside the impugned order of the Family Court whereby application for waiver of the statutory period of 6 months filed in a joint petition under Section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act, had been dismissed, being not in consonance with the guidelines laid down by Supreme Court in case of  Amardeep Singh v. Harveen Kaur, (2017) 8 SCC 746. The marriage of the parties was solemnized in 2001 according to Hindu Rites and Ceremonies. The parties had two children, one son who unfortunately died. While the daughter was married and was living in a matrimonial home. Due to temperamental differences, the parties had been living separately since December, 2015.

Since there were no chances of reconciliation, therefore, the parties filed a joint petition for the dissolution of their marriage by way of mutual consent, under Section 13-B of HMA. All the disputes regarding permanent alimony etc. were settled and a sum of Rs. 2 lakhs (out of the settled amount of Rs.5 lakhs) was paid by petitioner 2 to petitioner 1. Hence, both the parties had moved an application for waiver of statutory period of six months, which had been dismissed by the Family Court.

The petitioners argued that the Court below had not rightly appreciated the facts and circumstances of the case while not waiving the period of 6 months. It was contended that they had consented to part their ways and were being unnecessarily asked to wait for another six months.

In the light of the above, the Bench opined that the marriage of the petitioners had broken down irretrievably and there was no possibility of any reconciliation between them. Therefore, the order of the Court below in insisting the parties to wait for another six months for the second motion hearing, was totally uncalled for. Holding that the marriage between the parties had irretrievably broken and now they had decided to part their ways, so that they both have an opportunity to live their lives in the manner they like, hence, insistence of the Court below to wait to another six months would result in adding to their woes. Consequently, the revision petition was allowed and the impugned order was set-aside. The Family Court was directed to entertain the petition filed by the petitioners by waiving off six months period and proceed with the petition in accordance with law.[Sunita v. Yogesh Kumar, 2021 SCC OnLine P&H 1057, decided on 19-04-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant ahs reported this brief.


Appearance before the Courts by:

For the Petitioner: Adv. Amit Choudhary

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: The Division Bench of A. Muhamed Mustaque and Kauser Edappagath, JJ., held that false allegation of impotency amounts to mental cruelty, hence, is a valid ground for dissolution of marriage.

The appellant and the respondent were husband and wife, both doctors by profession. Both of them had initiated legal proceedings against each other – the husband, for divorce and the wife, for restitution of conjugal rights. After trial, the Court below, by the impugned common order, dismissed the original petition filed by the appellant and allowed the original petition by the respondent granting her a decree for restitution of conjugal rights.

The appellant had sought for decree of nullity on the ground that his consent to the marriage was obtained by fraud perpetrated by the respondent in suppressing material facts regarding her mental condition. He had also prayed that the marriage be dissolved on the grounds of incurable unsound mind and cruelty on the part of the respondent.

Whether suppression of any information amount to fraud?

Though it was alleged by the appellant, and practically admitted by the respondent, that two psychiatrists had treated the respondent, no steps were taken by the appellant to examine them or to produce the treatment records. The essential ingredient to be proved for securing an order of dissolution of marriage under Section 10 (1) (iii) of the Act, 1869 is that the respondent had been incurably of unsound mind for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition; but there was no convincing evidence on record to prove that the respondent had been suffering from any mental disease of incurable nature. Therefore, opining that the proviso to Section 19 of the Act gets attracted only when the consent was obtained through force or by playing fraud, the Bench explained,

“The word ‘suppression’ does not occur in Section 19 of the Act. The Parliament has employed the words ‘force’ and ‘fraud’. Before a party gives consent for the marriage with the other, there is bound to be exchange of information. This Section cannot be treated as a provision placing burden upon a spouse to the marriage, to reveal the entire information about him or her to the other.”

Hence, the Bench reached to the findings that the allegation was about suppression and failure to inform a particular fact cannot be treated as fraud, unless the person failing to mention it was under legal obligation to state it. Thus, the non disclosure by the wife before marriage that she was suffering from delusion disorder was not a suppression of material fact. Hence, it could not amount to fraud in obtaining his consent for the marriage.

 Cruelty

Considering the case of the appellant, the Bench opined that there was nothing to disbelieve the evidence given by the appellant that throughout the period they lived together, the respondent hs perpetrated various acts, ranging from several mental agony by behaving in an immature, irrational and bizarre manner, being drowsy, lethargic and unhygienic always, showing abnormal postures with her hands, talking uninhibitedly, often screaming that some gang was going to attack her, staring at people, having a phobia for darkness, having bad mouth odour, abdicating all shared household duties etc., making his life a living hell. The Bench stated that to constitute cruelty, the conduct complained of need not necessarily be so grave and severe so as to make cohabitation virtually unendurable or of such character as to cause danger to life, limb or health. It must be something more serious than “ordinary wear and tear of the married life”. It is sufficient if the conduct and behaviour of one spouse towards the other is of such a nature that it causes reasonable apprehension in the mind of the latter that it is not safe for him or her to continue the marital tie. The Bench further stated,

“Malevolent intention is not essential to cruelty. There may be instances of cruelty by unintentional but inexcusable conduct of the party. The absence of intention should not make any difference in the case, if by ordinary sense in human affairs; the act complained of could otherwise be regarded as cruelty.”

It had been held by the Supreme Court in Samar Ghosh (supra) that intention is not a necessary element in cruelty and that the relief to the party cannot be denied on the ground that there has been no deliberate or wilful ill treatment.

False Allegation of Impotency

Yet another facet of mental cruelty on the part of the respondent canvassed by the appellant was the false accusation made by the respondent against the appellant about his sexual capacity, that the appellant was suffering from erectile dysfunction and was incapable of performing sexual activities. In K. Srinivas Rao v. D. A. Deepa, (2013) 5 SCC 226, it was held that making unfounded indecent defamatory allegations against the spouse or his or her relatives in the pleadings amount to causing mental cruelty to the other spouse.

The respondent had imputed that the appellant was suffering from erectile dysfunction, and thus, he was incapable of performing sexual activities, but at the same breath, she had admitted that she had a satisfactory sexual relationship with the appellant after July, 2010. Therefore, opining that the respondent had miserably failed to substantiate the imputation made by her, the Bench said remarked,

“Casting aspersions of impotency or erectile dysfunction by one spouse against other in the counter statement in a matrimonial proceeding will undoubtedly constitute cruelty.”

Hence, it was found that the respondent making unnecessary accusations against the appellant amounted to mental Cruelty. Accordingly, the Bench held that the appellant had made out a case for granting a decree for dissolution of marriage on the ground of cruelty under Section 10(1)(x) of the Act. The prayer for restitution of conjugal rights by the respondent was rejected, the impugned orders were partly set aside and the marriage between the appellant and the respondent was dissolved.[xx v. xx, 2021 SCC OnLine Ker 2327 , decided on 31-05-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance before the Court by:

For the Appellant: Adv. P.Gopakumaran Nair, Adv. B.Bindu and Adv. N.K.Subramanian

For the Respondent: Adv. K.N.Abhilash and Adv. Sunil Nair Palakkat

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: The Division Bench of T. Raja and G. Chandrasekharan, JJ., while upholding the decision of Court below stated that for 12 long years the wife did not appear for any proceedings to disprove the allegations of husband and crucial allegations such as assaulting husband on his vital part of the body are included which were never denied by the wife, then how can the parties be made to live together.

Present appeal was directed against the decision of the Family Court dissolving the marriage between the parties.

Counsel for the appellant/wife argued that the trial court without taking into account the contents of various exhibits and contents of cross-examination of the respondent/husband gave a finding of guilt of cruelty meted out to respondent/husband that could not be sustained as the same was a result of erroneous appreciation of entire materials available before the Court below.

It was also submitted that the husband had fabricated certain documents to evade the payment of maintenance. Due to which the wife had to file a number of proceedings for which the appellant could not be demoralized giving a stamp of inflicting cruelty upon her husband.

Issues that arose in the present matter were as follows:

  • Whether the failure on the part of the appellant/wife to participate in the divorce proceedings before the Court below would amount to accepting the allegations made by the respondent/husband as true?
  • When the respondent/husband has filed the petition for divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, on the refusal of the appellant/wife either to appear in the witness box to state her own case on oath or not offering herself to be cross examined by the other side, whether the Court below is legally justified in drawing an adverse presumption that the case set up by the appellant/wife is not correct, under Section 114-Illus.(g) of the Evidence Act?

High Court’s Analysis and Finding

Bench stated that since the wife had raised counter-allegations, it was her duty and obligation to appear before the Court below and substantiate the same by disproving the allegations made by the respondent/husband by seriously participating in the enquiry.

It was rightly submitted by the counsel for the husband that when the divorce petition was pending from 2007 till 2019, for almost a period of 12 long years appellant/wife had chosen to filed 13 interlocutory applications but it is not known why she did not choose to appear before the Court below to take part in the enquiry.

Secondly, when the wife filed a case against the respondent under Sections 498(A), 406, 323, 504 & 506 of IPC, for which a trial of 9 long years was held, after which the husband and his parents were acquitted, it is unknown why the appellant devoted time to project a false case but did not appear for the enquiry before the Court below to disprove the allegations made by the husband.

Thirdly, she had also filed a case of domestic violence and for maintenance.

High Court stated that when she had boycotted the proceedings before the Court below, where she had the advantage of examining and cross-examining the respondent, she could not have come to this Court.

Bench referred to Order VIII Rule 5(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure, as per which every allegation of fact in the plaint, if not denied specifically or by necessary implication, the same shall be taken to be admitted as against the person who failed to deny the same.

Conjoint reading of Order XVI, Rule 20, Order XV, Rule 4, Order XVI, Rule 20 and Order XXII, Rule 4 of CPC shows that where any party to a suit pending in Court refuses to give evidence or to produce any document then and there in his/her possession or avoid the Court willfully, the Court can pronounce judgment or make such order against that party on the ground that he or she failed to prove the case.

High Court referred to the Supreme Court decision in Mohinder Kaur v. Sant Paul Singh, (2019) 9 SCC 358, wherein it was held that a party to the suit who does not appear in the witness box to state his own case on oath and does not offer himself to be cross examined by the other side, would suffer a presumption, because the case set up by hi would not be genuine, natural or honest and real one.

12 Long Years and No Appearance

Further, in the present matter, Court’s opinion was that when the appellant/wife deliberately and willfully boycotted the proceedings before the Court below for 12 long years due to not having any evidence, she cannot approach this Court with this appeal since the same will not be maintainable.

A very crucial allegation made by the husband was that the wife had assaulted him on his vital part of the body and the same was not even denied by the wife in the counter affidavit.

In view of the above-said allegation and no denying of the same by the wife, it is clear that the wife not only caused mental cruelty but also physical cruelty upon the husband.

“…when the parties are all fighting for more than 14 long years, they cannot be made to live together.”

Unclean Hands

Family Court of Mumbai found that the appellant came to the Court with unclean hands since in the proceeding regarding maintenance she did not show that she was working and having a source of income.

The above order became final, this Court found no justification in this appeal.

High Court found no infirmity or error in the decision of the Family Court and hence upheld the same. [Narayanee v. S. Karthik,  2021 SCC OnLine Mad 2080, decided on 24-03-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For Appellant: Dr K Santhakumari

For Respondent: J. Saravanavel

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Subramonium Prasad, J., while addressing a revision petition in regard to maintenance of wife, held that

Magazine covers are not sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the respondent /wife can sustain herself.

Instant revision petition is against the Family Court’s decision directing the husband to pay maintenance at the rate of Rs 17,000 per month to the wife.

The daughter of husband and wife in the present matter passed away in the year 2010 and at present, they have two major adult sons who are well settled.

Parties have been living separately since the year 2012. Wife filed the petition under Section 125 CrPC for grant of maintenance stating that she was treated with cruelty and was thrown out of the house in the year 2012 and she was unable to sustain herself, hence required maintenance from the husband.

It was stated that the husband was earning an income of Rs 50,000 from the post of Head Constable and also had some agricultural land from which he was earning an income.

Wife claimed Rs 25,000 per month as maintenance.

Husband submitted that the wife was a working lady earning handsomely. Adding to this he stated that she participates in Jagrans and does TV Serials and was in a position to take care of herself. Both the parties filed their respective affidavits of income.

Counsel for the petitioner submitted that as per the Statement filed by the wife under Section 165 of the Evidence Act, she herself stated that she was doing modelling and it was for her to establish that income earned by her was so less that she couldn’t maintain herself.

Petitioners counsel also presented certain magazine covers and newspaper articles to establish that the respondent was employed and capable of maintaining herself.

Bench stated that law laid down by Supreme Court decision in Rajnesh v. Neha, (2021) 2 SCC 324, indicates that proceedings under Section 125 CrPC have been enacted to remedy/reduce the financial suffering of a lady, who was forced to leave her matrimonial house, so that some arrangements could be made to enable her to sustain herself.

It is the duty of the husband to maintain his wife and to provide financial support to her and their children. A husband cannot avoid his obligation to maintain his wife and children except if any legally permissibly ground is contained in the statutes. 

Court noted that in the present matter, petitioner relied only on the statement given by the respondent/wife under Section 165 Indian Evidence Act. In the said statement she clearly mentioned her employment adding that her income was very low on which her sustenance was difficult.

In view of the above position, the onus to show how much the respondent/wife was earning shifts on the petitioner to show that it was enough for her sustenance. But petitioner failed to bring any evidence.

Court reiterated the Supreme Court’s position that newspaper clippings, etc. are not evidence.

 It was noted that the petitioner was working as an ASI and both the children were well settled, and he was not under any obligation to maintain his children but the wife.

On asking about divorce, it was stated that the petitioner’s children did not want him to take divorce from his wife, hence it becomes the moral and legal obligation of the husband to maintain his wife.

Bench while dismissing the revision petition held that no material was placed on record to show that respondent/wife was able to sustain herself. [Jaiveer Singh v. Sunita Chaudhary, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 1488, decided on 05-04-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner: Neerad Pandey, Advocate

For the Respondent: D.K. Sharma, Advocate

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: T. Raja, J., in the present matter while considering the long separation of parties for almost a quarter-century, granted a decree of divorce by dissolving the marriage between the parties.

Factual Matrix

In the present matter, appellant was married to the respondent and a male child was born out of wedlock. During the pregnancy of respondent, it was alleged that even after doctor’s advise, the respondent/wife had not taken proper care. Ultimately, the respondent delivered a handicapped male child.

Further, it was also alleged that from the date of marriage, the respondent was adamantly raising disputes and quarrels even for cohabitation due to which the appellant was subjected to mental agony.

Although the appellant tolerated all the unlawful activities of the respondent on the belief that she would change her attitude in due course, no improvement thereon had occurred.

No Response for 7 long years

Respondent later left the matrimonial house and never came back even after a lot of requests and visits by the appellant and his parents. When there was no response from the respondent for 7 long years and thereby deserted the appellant, petition was filed before the Family Court seeking divorce on the ground of cruelty and desertion under Section 13(1)(i—a) and (i—b) of the Hindu Marriage Act to dissolve the marriage between the appellant and respondent.

Respondent had sought restitution of conjugal rights under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act. Trial Court concluded that husband, wanted to get rid of the special child and mother and no cruelty was caused by the respondent/wife and no desertion was accused of the simple reason that only the appellant has taken both the respondent with the son by car to her parental house and left them there with the promise that he would come and take them back. But he did not turn up to take them back to the matrimonial home.

When the lower appellate court came to the conclusion that no case of cruelty or desertion was made out, aggrieved thereby, the present appeal was filed by the appellant raising the following substantial questions of law:

  • Whether the appellant/husband is entitled to divorce on the ground of cruelty and desertion and whether the respondent/wife is entitled to the relief of restitution of conjugal rights?
  • Whether the Courts below have properly applied the law of evidence as the question of proof of cruelty and desertion can always be decided only on oath?
  • Whether the finding of the lower appellate Court in putting the blame on the appellant in not taking care of the spastic child is not contrary to the evidence available on record?

Analysis, Law and Decision

Bench expressed that a human problem can be properly resolved by adopting a human approach and applying the same ratio in the cases on hand, when the parties are living separately for 25 long years, not to grant a decree of divorce would be disastrous for the parties.

Adding to the above, Court stated that preservation of a ruined marriage is totally unworkable, as this would be a source of misery for the parties. During the pendency of the matters, the parties declined to accept the proposal for re-union.

Therefore, when the parties were living separately for 25 long years and the mediation efforts were undertaken also proved to be of no avail, this Court following the decision of the Supreme Court in Naveen Kohli v. Neelu Kohli, 2006 (2) CTC 510, Bench decided to dissolve the marriage between the parties.

Moving forward, Court being aware and conscious of the fact that the interest of the respondent needs to be safeguarded, elaborated that Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act states that at the time of the passing of any decree or at any tie subsequent, on an application made to it, may order one party to pay the monthly sum as maintenance to other party.

Since the appellant had been paying a sum of Rs 10,000 per month to the wife as maintenance without any default and taking care of his son with the assistance of a helper by paying from his pension bearing in mind that the appellant is a retired Bank Officer, this Court directs the appellant to continue to pay the said sum of Rs.10,000/- per month as maintenance to the respondent without fail.

Lastly, the wife was granted visitation rights and the matter was disposed of in view of the above terms. [V. Ramasamy v. L. Priya, 2021 SCC OnLine Mad 1674, decided on 26-04-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For Appellant: Mrs K.Sumathi

For Respondent: Mr E.Raj Thilak

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: The Division Bench of A. Muhamed Mustaque and C. S. Dias, JJ., addressed the controversial question regarding rights of Muslim women, i.e.  Have Muslim women lost their right to invoke extra-judicial divorce, after the coming into force of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939? A number of women had approached the Court for seeking to validate their extra-judicial divorce by obtaining a declaration to that affect. The Bench expressed,

“These cases speak in abundance about the patriarchal mind-set followed in the Society for decades depriving Muslim women their right to invoke extra-judicial divorce. The above sketch the miseries of women despite the promise guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution of India.”

Controversy before the Court

The controversy came into force when a Single Judge of Kerala High Court in K. C. Moyin v. Nafeesa, 1972 KLT 785 negated the right of Muslim women to invoke extra-judicial divorce in light of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939. It was held that under no circumstances, a muslim marriage could be dissolved at the instance of wife, except in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

In the instant case a woman, ‘Y’  ‘Y’ had instituted divorce petition on the grounds that her husband ‒ ‘X’, was impotent and treated her with cruelty and was granted a decree of divorce by the Family Court. The grounds were challenged before the High Court and though the X was willing to prove his potency the Court granted ‘Y’ leave to pronounce Khula (exta-judicial divorce) on her request. Y stated that she was prepared to return the dower to ‘X’. However, ‘X’ had declined to accept the dower, which had raised a question mark on validity of Khula.

Observations and Analysis

 Chapter IV: Verse 28 of Quran states that,

“Man was created weak, to mean that his decisions are vulnerable. The very concept of institutionalizing marriage in Islam through a contract is to remind that the parties to the marriage may error in their decision and they may fall apart in conflict to remain as united. Marriage as a contract guarantees both parties permanent rights and obligations. The Holy Quran, therefore, recognizes the right to divorce equally for both men and women.”

The Bench observed, the Holy Quran gives a clear guidance as to the areas of family law, it does not by itself constitute a system. While conferring rights on spouses for divorce, it did not lay down exhaustive procedure to give effect to dissolution of marriage. This approach clearly gives an indication that areas related to divorce are amenable to change with regard to procedure and process without prejudice to the right conferred on a spouse to separate or severe the marital knot. The Bench noticed, many modes of dissolution of marriage existed prior to Islam which were accepted by the Prophet with certain refinement and modifications. The Prophet always had taken a liberal view in the matter of divorce in the best interest of the parties.

The Legal Conundrum and K. C. Moyin v. Nafeesa Case

The legal conundrum that has resulted from K.C. Moyin’s case wherein the Court in unequivocal terms declared that Muslim wife cannot repudiate a marriage dehors the provisions of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act (the Act). The Single Judge was of the view that unilateral repudiation of marriage by Faskh without the intervention of court under the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act was opposed to the law of the land and when a particular branch of law is codified, it was not possible to travel beyond the same and decide the rights of the parties.

To assess the validity of abovementioned decision the Bench pursued to examine the reasons and objects of enactment of the Act. Accordingly, the Bench observed that Section 2 of Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 (the Shariat Act) specifically recognized all modes of extra-judicial divorce except Faskh for which intervention of an authority like Qazi was mandatory. In Section 5 of the Shariat Act a provision was made to dissolve marriage by the District Judge on a petition made by Muslim married women. This would show that the intention of the Shariat Act was to entrust the mode of dissolution of marriage by Faskh through the court. Thus, under the Shariat Act, Muslim women retained the right of all modes of extra-judicial divorce recognized under their personal law Shariat, except Faskh. Later on, after observing that inspite of Shariat Act, Hanafi women were not allowed to obtain decree from the court to dissolve their marriage. Therefore, the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939 was enacted to consolidate and clarify the provisions of the Muslim law relating to the suit for dissolution of marriage by married Muslim women. By the said Act Section 5 of the Shariat Act was repealed, which consolidated the law relating to Faskh alone and the Act, 1939 never intended to do away with the practice of extra-judicial divorce otherwise available to a Muslim woman. Hence,

On an overall analysis of the scheme of the Shariat Act as well as the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act as above, we are of the considered view that the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act restrict Muslim women to annul their marriage invoking Faskh except through the intervention of the Court. All other forms of extra-judicial divorce as referred in Section 2 of the Shariat Act are thus available to Muslim women. We, therefore, hold that the law declared in K.C.Moyin’s case (supra) is not good law.”

Khula: Whether Consent of Husband a prerequisite?

The right to invoke khula conferred upon married Muslim women is an absolute right; akin to talaq conferred upon the married Muslim men. It was submitted by the Amicus Curiae that like talaq, there are no specific stages or procedures to be complied by the wife before seeking divorce invoking khula. The Bench opined that the idea of justice in Quran is rooted in fairness and Chapter IV verse 1 Quran which refers to mutual obligation has to be read into the right conferred on the wife to invoke khula. The Quranic verse as referred in verses 228 in Chapter II in clear terms confers absolute right on the wife to annul the marriage with her husband. Therefore, husband’s consent is not a precondition for validity of khula.

Khula: If Valid When the Wife fails to Return Dower?

The Bench opined that in Hadith, the direction of the prophet to the wife to return or pay compensation to the husband had to be understood to ensure fairness of justice. The right of the husband to claim back what was given in marriage could not be construed to mean khula can be effective only when the husband had consented to the offer made by the wife. Such an approach would deny the right conferred upon wife under Quran in unequivocal terms. The Bench remarked, the procedural equity to be followed cannot override such substantial right. Insistence to return dower or payment of compensation, therefore, were to be understood as husband is legitimately entitled to claim back what is otherwise due to him on account of unilateral invocation of khula by wife and can very well approach the court of law for the return of the same. Reliance was placed on the decision of Supreme Court in Juveria Abdul Majid Patni v. Atif Iqbal Mansoori, (2014) 10 SCC 736, wherein the Court while considering extra-judicial divorce of khula had held that, “This may or may not accompany her offer to give something in return. The wife may offer to give up her claim to Mahr (dower). The `Khula’ is a mode of divorce which proceeds from the wife, the husband cannot refuse subject only to reasonable negotiation with regard to what the wife has offered to give him in return.”

Validity of Khula without Attempts for Reconciliation

Human minds are vulnerable. Quran itself describes a human as fallible. Sometimes, a decision to invoke khula by wife may be due to perceptible differences she had in the relationship with her husband. Quran, therefore, thrusts on conciliation as a medium of dispute resolution before taking a concrete decision. Since, if an unbridled power to invoke khula is given to a Muslim wife, it may result in untold miseries and hardships to both.

Shayara Bano v. Union of India (2017) 9 SCC 1 it was held that triple talaq invoked without any attempt for reconciliation is arbitrary and violative of fundamental right contained in Article 14 of the Constitution. Hence, the Bench held that though there need not be any specific reasons to invoke khula, the procedure of reconciliation itself become a reasonable cause in as much as that it would reflect an attempt to resolve the disputes amicably between parties.  Hence, any invocation of khula without there being an attempt for reconciliation was held to be bad in law.

Jurisdiction of Family Court In Matters Related to Extra-Judicial Divorce

In the matter of unilateral dissolution of marriage, invoking khula and talaq, the scope of inquiry before the Family Courts is limited. In such proceedings, the court shall record the khula or talaq to declare the marital status of the parties after due notice to other party. The Family Court therefore, shall restrain from adjudicating upon such extra-judicial divorce unless it is called upon to decide its validity in appropriate manner.

In the light of above, Khula pronounced by Y was held to be valid in law. However, X, the husband of Y was granted liberty to approach the Family Court for the demand of consideration or dower. Accordingly, the case was disposed of.

[X v. Y, Mat.Appeal.No.89 of 2020, Decided On 09-04-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Appearance before The Court By:

Amicus Curiae: Adv.K.I.Mayankutty Mather

Counsels for the Petitioners: Sri.Babu Karukapadath, Smt.M.A.Vaheeda Babu
Shri.P.U.Vinod Kumar, Sri.Avinash P Raveendran, Smt.Arya Raghunath
Smt.Sneha Sukumaran Mullakkal And Sri.Shelly Paul

Counsel for the Respondent: Sri.P.Narayanan And Smt.P.Sheeba

Counsel for Kerala Federation Of Women: Adv. Shajna

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: Rajnesh Oswal, J., heard the instant petition against the order of the Trial Court whereby the petitioner had been directed to pay maintenance to the allegedly divorcee lady. The Bench stated that,

“The petitioner had not led any evidence as to who sent the divorce to the respondent (wife) to prove the plea of Talak. Otherwise also a meager amount of Rs.2000 as has been awarded to the respondent 1 herein, that in the present era of inflation can in no way be termed as either exorbitant or excessive.”

The petitioner contended that he had already divorced his wife vide “Talaq Nama‟ dated 02-08-2011 which was sent to her through registered post. The facts of the case were such that the  wife of the petitioner had filed a petition for interim maintenance before the Trial Court, wherein the petitioner had claimed that he had already divorced her and as such, he was not under any obligation to maintain the divorced lady. The Trial Court, after relying on the verdict of Supreme Court in Shameem Ara v. State of U.P., AIR 2002 S.C. 355,  and considering the evidence on record granted maintenance of Rs.2000 (Rupees Two thousand) per month to the wife.

Referring to the observations of the Trial Court and Sessions Court, the Bench stated that the Magistrate had held that the petitioner had miserably failed to prove the requisites of Talaq and also that Talaknama was sent to the respondent. The petitioner had not been able to prove as to on which date the divorce was pronounced upon the respondent(wife). The delivery of the envelope was also doubtful as the postman had not seen any such record in which he had obtained signatures of the respondent. Moreover, none of the witnesses produced by the petitioner had stated whether any-one tried to reconcile the parties before the divorce. Needless to mention here that if the plea of Talak is taken then the same is required to be proved like any other fact.

The Bench stated that there was not even an iota of evidence that any reconciliation efforts were made by two arbiters one chosen by the wife from her family and the other by the husband from his family. So there was no perversity in the finding returned by the Magistrate and upheld by the Court of revision that the petitioner had not been able to prove the plea of Talak taken in his objections. Furthermore, the petitioner had not led any evidence as to who sent the divorce to the respondent (wife) to prove the plea of Talak. Otherwise also a meager amount of Rs.2000/- (Rupees Two thousand) as has been awarded to the respondent no.1 herein, that in the present era of inflation can in no way be termed as either exorbitant or excessive.

In view of the above, the Court denied to interfere with the orders impugned and the petition was dismissed for being devoid of merit.

[Abdul Majeed Dar V. Hafiza Begum 2021 SCC OnLine J&K 294, Decided On 26-03-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Appearance before the Court by:

For the Petitioner/Applicant(s): Adv. Parvaiz Nazir

For the Respondent(s): Adv. Shabir Ahmad

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Mukta Gupta, J., while addressing a matrimonial matter, highlighted the scope of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,

PWDV Act provides for a complete mechanism for enforcement of the rights claimed under Section 12 of PWDV Act and merely because the rights as provided under Sections 18 to 22 of PWDV Act can be claimed in other legal proceedings also does not imply ouster of jurisdiction of the Magistrate to try the matter once divorce proceedings have been filed.

Due to the petitioner and respondent’s marriage running into rough weather, respondent had to leave the matrimonial home. After which the respondent filed a complaint under Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDV Act) against the petitioner and his parents.

In 2014, petitioner filed a divorce petition against the respondent.

By the present petition, petitioner sought transfer of complaint filed by the respondent under Section 12 of the PWDV Act and the execution petitions filed to the Principal Judge, Family Courts, South-East District, Saket Courts.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Present petition hinges on the interpretation of Section 26 of the PWDV Act.

In P. Rajendran v. Sasikala, Criminal Original Petition No. 29522 of 2013, decided on 14-09-2017, Madras High Court followed the decision on Capt. C.V.S Ravi v.  Ratna Sailaja, Crl. O.P. No.17122 of 2008, reiterated that merely because Family Court can grant reliefs under Sections 18 to 22 of the PWDV Act, it does not lead to the conclusion that an application filed by an aggrieved person under Section1 2 of the PWDV Act was required to be transferred to the Family Court.

Bench noted that Section 26 of the PWDV Act reveals that it permits availing of the reliefs provided under Sections 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 of the PWDV Act in any other legal proceedings before a civil or criminal court and in case such a relief is granted than information to this extent was required to be given to Magistrate dealing with the application under the PWDV Act.

Section 26 of PWDV Act does not contemplate ouster of jurisdiction of the Magistrate even in a case some relief as contemplated under Sections 18 to 22 of the PWDV Act is granted by the civil or criminal court in some other legal proceedings.

High Court expressed that:

“…even if a proceeding is pending before the Family Court, the same will not warrant the application under Section 12 of PWDV Act to be transferred to the Family Court.”

 Court found that the petitioner had been delaying the proceedings in the application under Section 12 of the PWDV Act and was not complying with the Magistrate’s order, while avoiding making payment of maintenance to the respondent.

Hence, it was directed to conclude proceedings under Section 12 of PWDV Act as expeditiously as possible.

No reason was found to transfer the proceedings before the Metropolitan Magistrate to Family Court, therefore, petition was dismissed. [Sandeep Aggarwal v. Viniti Aggarwal, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 1524, decided on 07-04-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner: Aditya Goel, Advocate

For the Respondent: Lalit Gupta, Sidharth Arora, Advocates with the respondent in person.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The Division Bench of Dr Kaushal Jayendra Thaker and Ajit Singh, JJ., while setting aside a decree of divorce addressed the issue of granting maintenance to a widowed wife.

Present application was filed for modification of Court’s earlier order whereby the appellant wife’s appeal against the divorce decree granted to the husband was dismissed as withdrawn.

Factual Matrix

An appeal that was filed in the year 2009 challenged the decree of divorce passed in favour of the respondent-husband. The said appeal was pending for a period of 9 years.

The appeal came up before the Court on 12-04-2018, Court inquired from the appellant and counsel for the respondent-husband as to whether there was any chance of settlement between the parties, to which both parties agreed to live together.

Pursuant to that, both parties resumed cohabitation. The appellant wife requested for withdrawing her appeal as no dispute survived since both parties were now happily living together.

The High Court allowed the withdrawal of appeal, however, without interfering in the decree of divorce already granted in favour of the husband.

Subsequently, the respondent-husband passed away. The appellant wife now claimed maintenance under Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act as his widowed wife. Consequently, she sought the modification of the Court’s earlier order dismissing her appeal as withdrawn without interfering in the decree of divorce passed by the trial court.

Analysis and Decision

In the present scenarios, except the son and the appellant, there was no one else to claim as the heir of the deceased respondent and hence the only legal heir entitled to inherit the estate of the deceased is the appellant and her son.

During the time period of 20 years of litigation, the wife never sought maintenance but now claimed the same under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956.

Bench cited the Supreme Court decision in Rohtas Singh v. Sant Ramendri, (2000) 3 SCC 180 and Swapan Kumar Banerjee v. State of West Bengal, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1263, with respect to the status of the divorced wife.

High Court held that in view of the above-stated cases, the appellant would be entitled to the maintenance as per the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 as she was dependent on the deceased.

The Bench held that it cannot be said that the appellant was a divorced wife. Being a Hindu wife, the appellant has condoned all the misdeeds of the respondent and if her husband did not cohabit with her and has thereafter, started co-habiting with her, in that view of the matter, the decree of divorce both on merits and on cohabiting and condonation of misdeeds, if any, both by the husband and the wife, the decree is liable to be set aside.

The husband after 30.07.2018 had never came up before the Court to complain that she had again deserted him or what is the status of the matrimonial relations between them, which means he had also condoned misdeed of the appellant (wife), if any.
According to the Court, a case for setting aside the impugned decree of divorce was made out.

Hence the divorce decree was set aside. The earlier order of the High Court which was sought to be modified was also set aside.[Jyotsna Verma v. Ashok Kumar, First Appeal No. 432 of 2009, decided on 10-03-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Counsel for Appellant:- In-Person, Ms. Jyotsna Verma (In Person)

Counsel for Respondent:- B. D. Mishra, Syed Fahim Ahmed

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: V. Bhavani Subbaroyan, J., while addressing a very significant issue with respect to a divorce being sought, expressed that:

“…concept of marriage in the present generation has been taken very lightly and even for trivial issues, divorce is filed, and marriage is broken.”

Wife filed the present petition against the petition filed by the Husband before the Family Court. The husband’s petition was filed on the ground that the wife was suffering from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and was not fit for cohabitation or to give birth to a child.

Husband also filed an interlocutory application seeking for an amendment to include the provision of law from 12(1)(a) and 12(1)(a) and (c). The said petition seeking for amendment was pending before the Family Court for decision.

Petitioners Counsel, S.P. Arthi submitted that PCOS disorder is an endocrine system disorder that affects the capacity of reproduction in women, and which is totally distinct and different from claiming to be impotence.

As per the contention of counsel for the petitioner, the said claim made by the husband was absolutely incorrect and the said usage of terminology of impotency against the wife could not be sustained and on the said ground striking off the petition was sought.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Bench noted the categorical allegation placed by the husband with regard to the issue of PCOS in the wife due to which the husband sought a divorce.

High Court expressed that:

The term ‘PSOS’ by itself cannot be termed as ‘impotency’. Impotency is different and unable to give birth to a child is different, owing to various physical and mental reasons.

 On careful consideration of the contentions placed on record, it was clear that the husband did not plead the wife’s inability to give birth to a child as ‘Impotency’, but he sought annulment of marriage on the reason that there was no cohabitation and wife could not bear a child. He also submitted that the wife did not cooperate for cohabitation owing to her medical condition, as she was almost 25 days on her menstrual cycle.

Marriage being a bondage between men and women as husband and wife, it not only limits to a biological needs and desires, but also as a companion in life caring forward to the next generation through their children.

Elaborating more in respect to the present set of facts and circumstances, Bench added that Family Courts have increased in numbers to cater to the demand of intolerant couple, who are unmindful of the institution of marriage, break the relationship on unimaginable trivial reasons.

As per the pleadings placed, nowhere the husband used the word connoting impotency towards his wife. He mainly approached with the complaint that the wife could not bear a child for two reasons:

  • No Cohabitation
  • Suffering from ‘PCOS’ due to which wife suffers from improper menstrual cycle.

Legitimate Expectation?

Bench expressed that it is the husband’s legitimate expectation to live with his wife and have cohabitation and bear children and if the same is not achieved owing to some physical or mental problems, it is quite logical that either of the parties will approach the Court for seeking a divorce.

Except for some case wherein the couple are understanding and come forward with the life issue-less or even go for adoption, however, the same has to be proved by the person claiming that his or her partner is incapacitated to give or bear the child.

Petitioner/Wife could not show the husbands averments to be illusive.

Hence, High Court did not find any grounds seeking for the intervention of this Court under Article 227 of the Constitution of India with regard to striking off the petition.[ Annapoorani v. S. Ritesh,  2021 SCC OnLine Mad 1079, decided on 16-03-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Alka Sarin, J., heard the instant filed by a couple seeking police help to restrain the respondents from interfering with the life and liberty of the petitioners. The Bench said,

Panchayati divorce has no recognition in the eyes of law as by the virtue of Section 4 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 all customs and usages had ceased to have effect. 

The facts of the case were that the petitioners were both major. It was alleged that the relatives of petitioner 2 were against relationship of the petitioners. However, the petitioners had got married on 21-01-2021 at Gurudwara as per Sikh rites and ceremonies. Petitioner 1 was earlier married to one Mandeep Kaur and had taken a Panchayati Divorce on 19-06-2017, whereas, petitioner 2 was earlier married to one Harjinder Singh and had got a divorce under Section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 vide judgment and decree dated 14-07-2000. The petitioners were apprehending danger to their life and liberty.

Petitioner 1, had alleged to have obtained a Panchayati divorce from his first wife. There was no decree of dissolution of marriage of petitioner 1 by a Court of competent jurisdiction and his first marriage remained subsisting in the eyes of law. Hence, the petitioners were alleged to have got married without petitioner 1 obtaining a legally valid divorce from his first wife.

The Bench observed that after enactment of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, marriages and divorce qua Hindus was governed by the procedure as set out in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Section 4 of the said Act read as under :

“4. Overriding effect of Act – Save as otherwise expressly provided in this Act,(a) any text, rule or interpretation of Hindu law or any custom or usage as part of that law in force immediately before the commencement of this Act shall cease to have effect with respect to any matter for which provision is made in this Act;” 

Therefore, in the view of Section 4 of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955 all customs and usages ceased to have effect. Thus, the contention of the petitioners that petitioner 1 had sought and got a Panchayati divorce could not be accepted. The Bench stated,

“The alleged marriage itself between petitioner 1 and petitioner 2 would be illegal and against the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 inasmuch as this marriage had been contracted without the petitioner 1 being legally divorced.” 

However, in the light of Article 21 of the Constitution which provide that no person should be deprived of his life and liberty except in accordance with law and that the petitioners had approached this Court for protection of their life and liberty to live as a couple which could not be considered in the facts and circumstances of the present case, the Bench had granted them protection as individuals. Further, the petition was dismissed with the direction to the petitioners that if they apprehend any threat to their life or liberty, they would be entitled to approach the Police for redressal of their apprehensions regarding the same.[Nishan Singh v. State of Punjab,  2021 SCC OnLine P&H 523, decided on 27-01-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this story together.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where an Army Officer’s wife made numerous malicious complaints against him to his superiors and various authorities, the 3-judge bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ held that such conduct cannot be considered to be “squabbles of ordinary middle class married life” and that it amounted to mental cruelty.

Holding that the husband was entitled to dissolution of his marriage, the Court said,

“In circumstances like this, the wronged party cannot be expected to continue with the matrimonial relationship and there is enough justification for him to seek separation.”

Background

The appellant, an Army Officer with M.Tech qualification and the respondent, a faculty in the Government P G College, Tehri with Ph.d degree got married on 27.9.2006 and lived together for few months at Vishakhapatnam and at Ludhiana. But from the initial days of married life, differences cropped up and since 15.9.2007, the couple have lived apart.

In the divorce proceeding, the appellant pleaded that he was subjected to numerous malicious complaints by the respondent which have affected his career and loss of reputation, resulting in mental cruelty. On the other hand, the respondent in her case for restitution of conjugal rights contended that the husband without any reasonable cause had deserted her and accordingly she pleaded for direction to the appellant, for resumption of matrimonial life.

Family Court’s finding

The Family Court gave a finding that the respondent had failed to establish her allegation of adultery against the husband. Further, it was held that the respondent had subjected the appellant to mental cruelty with her complaints to the Army and other authorities. Consequently, the Court allowed the appellant’s suit for dissolution of marriage and simultaneously dismissed the respondent’s petition for restitution of conjugal rights.

High Court’s finding

In appeal, while the Uttarakhand High Court found that the wife did write to various authorities commenting on the appellant’s character and conduct, the Division Bench opined that those cannot be construed as cruelty since no court has concluded that those allegations were false or fabricated. According to the Court, the conduct of the parties against each other would at best be squabbles of ordinary middle class married life. Accordingly, the High Court set aside the decree for dissolution of marriage and allowed the respondent’s suit for restitution of conjugal rights, under the impugned judgment.

Husband’s case

It was argued that the respondent had filed a series of complaints against him before the superior officers in the Army upto the level of the Chief of Army Staff and to other authorities and these complaints have irreparably damaged his reputation and mental peace. He cannot therefore be compelled to resume matrimonial life with the respondent, in the face of such unfounded allegations and cruel treatment. Moreover, the couple have been separated since 15.9.2007 and after all these years, restitution would not be justified or feasible.

Wife’s case

It was argued that the wife wrote letters and filed complaints only to assert her legal right as the married wife of the appellant and those communications should therefore be understood as efforts made by the wife to preserve the marital relationship.

Supreme Court’s analysis and finding

What amounts to Mental Cruelty?

For considering dissolution of marriage at the instance of a spouse who allege mental cruelty, the result of such mental cruelty must be such that it is not possible to continue with the matrimonial relationship. In other words, the wronged party cannot be expected to condone such conduct and continue to live with his/her spouse.

“The degree of tolerance will vary from one couple to another and the Court will have to bear in mind the background, the level of education and also the status of the parties, in order to determine whether the cruelty alleged is sufficient to justify dissolution of marriage, at the instance of the wronged party.”

Whether wife’s conduct in the present case amounts to mental cruelty?

The respondent had made several defamatory complaints to the appellant’s superiors in the Army for which, a Court of inquiry was held by the Army authorities against the appellant. Primarily for those, the appellant’s career progress got affected. The Respondent was also making complaints to other authorities, such as, the State Commission for Women and has posted defamatory materials on other platforms. As a result, the appellant’s career and reputation had suffered.

“When the appellant has suffered adverse consequences in his life and career on account of the allegations made by the respondent, the legal consequences must follow and those cannot be prevented only because, no Court has determined that the allegations were false.”

The Court also found fault with the High Court’s approach in dealing with the issue. The High Court had, without any definite finding on the credibility of the wife’s allegation, held that the wronged spouse would be disentitled to relief.

The Court also noticed that the allegations are levelled by a highly educated spouse and they do have the propensity to irreparably damage the character and reputation of the appellant.

“When the reputation of the spouse is sullied amongst his colleagues, his superiors and the society at large, it would be difficult to expect condonation of such conduct by the affected party.”

Further, the explanation of the wife that she made those complaints in order to protect the matrimonial ties also would not justify the persistent effort made by her to undermine the dignity and reputation of the appellant.

The Court hence held that the High Court was in error in describing the broken relationship as normal wear and tear of middle class married life.

“It is a definite case of cruelty inflicted by the respondent against the appellant and as such enough justification is found to set aside the impugned judgment of the High Court and to restore the order passed by the Family Court.”

Hence, the appellant was held entitled to dissolution of his marriage and consequently the respondent’s application for restitution of conjugal rights was dismissed.

[Joydeep Majumdar v. Bharti Jaiswal Majumdar, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 146, decided on 26.02.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice Hrishikesh Roy

Know Thy Judge | Justice Hrishikesh Roy

Appearances before the Court by: 

For Appellant – Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan

For respondent – Advocate Ahmad Ibrahim

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division bench of A.S. Chandurkar and Pushpa V. Ganediwala, JJ., upheld the family court’s finding that “the behaviour and the conduct of the husband of making wild and unsubstantiated allegations resulted in causing mental cruelty to the wife.”

Factual Matrix

Appellant and the respondent were married since 2008 and a child was born out of the said wedlock. Appellant and his family started ill-treating the respondent. Respondent was driven away from her matrimonial home, after all, her gold articles were taken away.

In view of the above, she proceeded to file a case under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for restitution of conjugal rights.

The above proceedings were however withdrawn and later, wife filed a petition seeking divorce on the grounds of cruelty and desertion. She alleged that the appellant and his family members were ill-treating the respondent physically and mentally. Respondent approached the Mahila Cell with her grievances and after understanding given to both the parties, they started residing together, but the same did not continue for long as the respondent found herself in an unsafe environment and proceeded to file the present proceedings.

Family Court held that the respondent had proved that the appellant was treating her with cruelty. Hence by the impugned judgment, the Family Court proceeded to pass a decree for divorce on the ground of cruelty. Being aggrieved the appellant has preferred this appeal.

Issue for Consideration:

Whether in the facts of the case the Family Court was justified in granting a divorce on the ground of cruelty?

Decision

Bench in view of the facts and circumstances found the Family Court’s decision to be justified.

“…making of unfounded allegations against the spouse or his/her relatives in the pleadings or making complaints with a view to affect the job of the spouse amounts to causing mental cruelty to the said spouse.”

Mental Cruelty: What led to it?

Court elaborated on the above point that the conduct of the husband of not pleading that the wife was suffering from epilepsy and stating the same for the first time in his deposition as well as making wild allegation that the wife and her relatives had secured false caste certificate without attempting to substantiate the said allegation resulted in causing mental cruelty to wife.

Bench also added regarding the husband’s conduct that, it appeared from his conduct in one or the other he intended to prejudice the service of the wife.

The impugned judgment was affirmed. [Thalraj v. Jyoti, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 255, decided on 10-02-2021]


Advocates who appeared for the parties:

P.K. Mishra, Advocate for the appellant.

A.B. Bambal, Advocate for the respondent.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya, J., expressed that:

Where a conflict arises between individual conscience of the concerned Judge and judicial conscience, supported by law of the land, the former has to give way to the latter.

Second wife of Sardar Natha Singh (deceased) who was a freedom fighter getting a pension from the Central Government under the Swatantra Sainik Samman Pension Scheme, 1980 till his demise has preferred the present challenge.

Petitioner, relying on a deed of declaration of divorce, executed by respondent 11, the first wife and Sardar Natha Singh, the husband of petitioner claimed widow pension, which was refused on the ground that such deed of divorce was not acceptable under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 in the absence of a decree of divorce obtained from a competent court of law.

It was submitted that the petitioner and her husband were governed by customs of Jat Sikhs, which permit such a divorce. Petitioner claimed that Section 29(2) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is attracted.

Analysis and Decision

While noting the facts and circumstances of the case, Bench expressed that for Section 29(2) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 to be invoked, it has to be established by the party relying on a custom that the right of the party was recognized by custom, to obtain the dissolution of a Hindu marriage.

Court noted that in the present matter, High Court did not approach the civil court for a declaration regarding the validity of the divorce deed.

Further, Bench added that the burden and the initial onus lies on the petitioner to prove the existence of a custom having the force of law, to be proved by evidence – oral or documentary – in order to attract the benefit of Section 29(2) of the Hindu Marriage Act.

Section 2(1)(b) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 stipulates that the Act applies to Sikhs as well. Thus, the provisions of the Act, including Section 13 thereof (pertaining to divorce), applies to Sikhs in general.

 High Court stated that marriage between respondent 11 and her deceased husband could only be dissolved by a decree of divorce passed by a competent court on any of the grounds as mentioned in Section 13 of the Act, unless the existence of any contrary custom was proved by evidence.

To justify an exception to Section 13 within the purview of Section 29(2), petitioner had to approach a civil court and establish by evidence that the dissolution of the marriage between respondent 11 and her deceased husband was recognized by custom.

Bench also stated that respondent-authorities do not have the jurisdiction in law to decide the matrimonial status of the private parties and/or the validity of the deed of declaration, which could only be done before a civil court.

The initial grant of pension to respondent 11 is an endorsement of the fact that the first wife was found eligible for such pension by the respondent authorities and she had already started getting pension.

A suit in question was filed by respondent 11, inter alia, for a declaration that she was the only married wife and the only widow of Sardar Natha Singh and was entitled to widow pension and that the present petitioner was not the wife and widow of Sardar Natha Singh.

While concluding, Court expressed that the divorce decree executed purportedly between respondent 11 and her deceased husband was not endorsed by any valid custom, the exception envisaged in Section 29(2) of the 1955 Hindu Marriage Act would not be attracted.

Thus, the spouses had to revert back to Section 13 of the Act, which sanctions dissolution of marriage only by a decree of divorce, for the dissolution of marriage to be valid in the eye of law.

Bench held that the fact that pension was granted earlier in favour of respondent 11 upon a valid sanction being issued by respondent-authorities, it would be unjust to deprive respondent 11 of such pension at the behest of petitioner, merely on the basis of the petitioner’s assertion on oath in the present writ petition that a deed of divorce, supported by valid and recognized customs, was executed between respondent 11 and her deceased husband.

Hence, the High Court decided that in view of the long-pending litigation between the private parties, it would be lucrative to direct pension to be paid equally between the petitioner and respondent 11. However, such a course of action would be grossly illegal.

Although Court’s empathy went fully with the petitioner, who was an unemployed lady of about 63 years as per her affidavit, however, the Court found that it had no power to enact law but was bound by the provisions of law as the Parliament, in its own wisdom, chose to promulgate.

Therefore, the writ petition was dismissed.[Krishna Veni v. Union of India,  2021 SCC OnLine Cal 437, decided on 18-02-2021]


Advocates who appeared for the parties:

For the petitioner: Gunjan Shah and Vinit Kumar Choubey

For respondents 1, 2 and 4: Kumarjyoti Tiwari

For respondent 9: Subrata Roy

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Division Bench of Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli, JJ., upheld the Family Court’s decision and directed the parties approach the local Court of Singapore with regard to sorting out their matrimonial dispute. 

Issue

Present appeal was filed seeking a direction against the Family Court’s decision, wherein the appellant/plaintiff sought an anti-suit injunction against the defendant/respondent to seek restraint against him for proceeding with a divorce petition filed by him to seek dissolution of marriage before the Family Justice Courts of the Republic of Singapore.

Family Court had granted injunction till the next date of hearing, restraining the defendant/respondent from prosecuting, pursuing or going ahead with his divorce action or any other proceedings as emanating from the matrimony in the case pending in Singapore Court.

Analysis

Bench found that the Family Court took note of the law laid down by the Supreme Court decisions on the aspect of grant on anti-injunction suit. Following were decisions of Supreme Court that were relied upon by the Family Court:

Y.Narasimha Rao v. Y. Venkata Lakshmi, (1991) 3 SCC 451

Modi Entertainment Network v. WSG Cricket PTE Ltd., (2003) 4 SCC 341

Dinesh Singh Thakur v. Sonal Thakur., AIR 2018 SC 2094

Appellant’s submission before the Court is that she would be severely prejudiced in case the divorce proceedings were allowed to continue in Singapore Courts, since the divorce would be granted without the appellant being granted any maintenance, or alimony, as also the custody of the children.

Opinion

Court on perusal of the submissions, facts and circumstances of the case stated that:

Firstly, regarding the rights of the parties in a matrimonial dispute according to the law of Singapore can hardly be a reason for the Court to grant the injunction, for the simple reason that the parties were domiciled in Singapore and were continuously residing there since 2012.

Secondly, no reason can be seen why the Singapore Courts would treat the appellant unfairly. Pertinently she had moved an application before the Court at Singapore to seek maintenance. Therefore, the Court cannot accept her claim that she would be prejudiced in any manner on account of her being the wife in the matrimonial dispute before a Singapore Court.

Appellant had also moved an application challenging territorial jurisdiction of the Court at Singapore, which application was rejected.

Decision

Hence, the High Court held that the Family Court had rightly rejected the application preferred by the appellant under Order 39 Rule 1 and 2 CPC.

Bench reiterated that parties being permanent resident of Singapore, residing there since 2012, should sort out their matrimonial dispute before the local Court in Singapore.

Adding to the above, Court expressed that Courts in India cannot be said to be forums that would be convenient to either of the parties. Enforcement of orders passed by the Courts in India- when the parties; their children, and; their assets/properties are situated in Singapore, would be a practical impossibility.

On finding no merit in the appeal, it was dismissed. [Rakhee Bahl v. Pankaj Bahl, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 766, decided on 03-02-2021]


Advocates for the parties:

For Appellant: Osama Suhail with Surabhi Diwan, Advs.

For Respondent: Shashank Agrawal, Adv.

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 BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Prathiba M. Singh, J., dismissed an application filed under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act on finding no interest in the same by the wife.

Petitioner filed a divorce petition under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, seeking divorce from his wife. To which Family Court granted a decree of divorce to dissolve the marriage. However, on the same date, a notice was issued in the application under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, Family Court called for the detailed affidavits to be filed as to the expenditure, assets and liabilities of both the Petitioner and Respondent.

The above-said application has been challenged.

Bench noted from the Family Court’s decision that the respondent did not contest the divorce petition at all. Respondent’s defence was struck off and cross-examination of the petitioner was also of a limited nature.

Further, the Court added that since the respondent did not set out any substantial defence and the decree of divorce was granted without contest, respondent didn’t seem to be interested in pressing the application under Section 24 of the Act, which is meant for interim maintenance pendente lite.

 While concluding with the decision, Court expressed that the legal position is that a Section 24 application under the Act can survive beyond the dismissal of the main proceeding for grant of divorce, in respect of the period till the dismissal of the said petition.

Adding to the above, bench stated that the decision in Rita Mago v. V.P. Mago, 20(1981) DLT 103 may no longer be good law.

Hence, Bench concluded that in view of the above facts and circumstances the respondent doesn’t seem to be interested in pursuing the application under Section 24 for interim maintenance, therefore the said application was dismissed. [Apurva Anand v. Chanchal Niranjan, CM (M) 426 of 2020 and CM Appl. 20237 of 2020, decided on 29-01-2021]


Advocates for the parties:

Petitioner: Dr Aman Hingorani and Himanshu Yadav, Advocates

 Respondent: None

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case dealing with Transfer of petition under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, for restitution of conjugal rights from Palanpur, Gujarat to Mumbai after a previous Transfer Petition was dismissed, the single-judge bench of V. Ramasubramanian, J has held that the dismissal of a petition for transfer, may not operate as res judicata, when a fresh petition is filed on change of circumstances. However, when a case is at its final stage, this Court will be extremely reluctant to order the transfer, as it may derail the entire process.

In the present case, after three years of the dismissal of the first Transfer Petition, the petitioner came up with the present Transfer Petition on the ground that there are change of circumstances warranting a fresh look as her mother had died making it impossible for her to leave two minor daughter in Mumbai to attend to the hearings at Palanpur; and also because it was becoming difficult for her to defend the case, which was being listed for hearing on 2 to 3 occasions every month as the Family Court was imposing penalties upon her whenever a request for adjournment was sought or when the Legal Aid lawyer appointed on her behalf did not attend the Court. Further, the Family Court discarded the evidence of the petitioner and struck off her right of evidence after which the petitioner came up with the Transfer Petition.

The respondent, on the other hand, argued that the proceedings for restitution of conjugal rights have already reached the stage of judgment and that once a request for transfer got rejected on an earlier occasion, a second petition cannot be maintained.

Considering both the aspects, the Court was of the opinion that the present petition for transfer cannot be opposed solely on the ground that the earlier petition was dismissed. But at the same time, the petitioner will have to satisfy the court that there are change of circumstances and that there are sufficient grounds made out.

“While the hardship, both social and financial, pleaded by the petitioner deserves favourable consideration, the transfer of the case at this stage of the proceeding may not be appropriate.”

The Court, hence, rejected the Transfer Petition but issued the following directions:

  • The petitioner be permitted to move an application for reopening of her evidence before the family Court.
  • The application may be allowed to be filed online if such a facility is available. Else, it may be permitted to be filed through counsel without the petitioner having to undertake a travel. On all occasions except the date on which the petitioner is to be cross examined, the petitioner may be permitted by the Family Court to be represented by a counsel without being present. If Video   Conferencing facility is available, the petitioner may be granted the said facility;
  • The Family Court may take a lenient view on the said application and have the evidence on the side of the petitioner restored. Thereafter the case may be posted for the cross examination of the petitioner.
  • For facilitating the cross examination of the petitioner by the counsel for the respondent-husband, the Court may be granted a firm date. On the date so fixed, the petitioner shall appear before the Family Court.
  • The respondent shall ensure that the cross examination of the petitioner is carried out without fail by the counsel for the respondent.
  • No request for any adjournment on behalf of the respondent shall be allowed.
  • On every occasion when the family Court wants the physical presence of the petitioner, the respondent shall pay a sum of Rs.10,000/- to the petitioner, towards expenses for travel and stay. If the respondent fails to pay, the petitioner will be at liberty to approach the Supreme Court.

[Amruta Ben Himanshu Kumar Shah v. Himanshu Kumar Parvinchandra Shah, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 46, decided on 29.01.2021]


Counsels who appeared before the Court

For petitioner: Advocate

For respondent: Advocate Ranu Purohit

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Telangana High Court: P. Naveen Rao, J., discussed and reiterated the scope of The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 extensively.

“As against the procedure envisaged in the Code of Criminal Procedure, where power is vested in the Magistrate, to monitor investigation of a crime under the Act, 1989 and take cognizance of the crime, the power is now vested in the Special Court.”

Illegal Intimacy

First petitioner submitted that second petitioner is her daughter and her marriage was performed in the year 2017. After 4 months of their marriage, the husband of the second petitioner developed illegal intimacy with another woman who is stated to be the daughter of the sixth respondent and were living under one roof.

The husband of petitioner 2 started harassing her. Later in the panchayat held by the elders, there was an understanding that Shivakumar would lead marital life with the second petitioner by leaving the daughter of respondent 6.

Even after the above-held panchayat, the illegal relationship of Shivakumar and daughter of respondent 6 continued.

Based on the above complaint, a crime was registered under Sections 498-A and 497 IPC. Sixth respondent’s daughter gave an assurance in front of the police that she would not interfere in marital life of second petitioner and requested the petitioners to withdraw the case.

Later, even after the settlement, the illegal relationship continued and this time, the respondent filed a complaint alleging that petitioners abused them in filthy language and on caste lines.

Complaint under Section 34 IPC and Sections 3(1)(r)(s), 3 (2) (va) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Petitioners have now alleged that taking advantage of the registration of crime, sixth respondent and his daughter threatened the petitioners and were forcing the second petitioner to give divorce to her husband.

Petitioners contended that the police has not been following the procedure and requires the Court to direct the fourth respondent to follow the Supreme Court decision in Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar, (2014) 8 SCC 273.

Scope of Power of Police

On the issue of the scope of power of police to conduct an investigation, the arrest of accused, grant of bail, and the role of Constitutional Courts in such matters was extensively considered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal, 1992 Supp (1) SCC 335.

Further, the Bench expressed that it is a settled principle of law that once a cognizable crime is reported, police have to register the crime and investigate into the crime. Such an investigation has to be taken up immediately, collect the evidence and then take steps to finalize the investigation and file the final report.

Scope of  The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

The scope of provisions of the Act, 1989 came up for consideration before the Supreme Court in Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra,(2018) 6 SCC 454. The Supreme Court held that merely because a crime is reported under the Act, 1989, it need not be registered automatically and to avoid false implication of an innocent person, a preliminary enquiry may be conducted by the Deputy Superintendent of Police concerned to find out whether allegations in the complaint made out a case to proceed under the Atrocities Act, and that the person need not be arrested.

In Union of India v. State of Maharashtra, (2020) 4 SCC 761, Supreme Court reviewed the directions issued in Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra, (2018) 6 SCC 454.

Further, after extensively referring to the view taken by the Supreme Court in Union of India v. State of Maharashtra, (2020) 4 SCC 761, Supreme Court observed in Prithvi Raj Chauhan v. Union of India, (2020) 4 SCC 727:

“9. Concerning the provisions contained in Section 18-A, suffice it to observe that with respect to preliminary inquiry for registration of FIR, we have already recalled the general Directions 79.3 and 79.4 issued in Subhash Kashinath case [Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra, (2018) 6 SCC 454 : (2018) 3 SCC (Cri) 124]. A preliminary inquiry is permissible only in the circumstances as per the law laid down by a Constitution Bench of this Court in Lalita Kumari v. State of U.P. [Lalita Kumari v. State of U.P., (2014) 2 SCC 1 : (2014) 1 SCC (Cri) 524], shall hold good as explained in the order passed by this Court in the review petitions on 1-10-2019 [Union of India v. State of Maharashtra, (2020) 4 SCC 761] and the amended provisions of Section 18-A have to be interpreted accordingly.

10. Section 18-A(i) was inserted owing to the decision of this Court in Subhash Kashinath [Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra, (2018) 6 SCC 454 : (2018) 3 SCC (Cri) 124], which made it necessary to obtain the approval of the appointing authority concerning a public servant and the SSP in the case of arrest of accused persons. This Court has also recalled that direction on Review Petition (Crl.) No. 228 of 2018 decided on 1-10-2019 [Union of India v. State of Maharashtra, (2020) 4 SCC 761] . Thus, the provisions which have been made in Section 18-A are rendered of academic use as they were enacted to take care of mandate issued in Subhash Kashinath [Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra, (2018) 6 SCC 454 : (2018) 3 SCC (Cri) 124] which no more prevails. The provisions were already in Section 18 of the Act with respect to anticipatory bail.”

Therefore, in light of the above discussion, bench dismissed the petition. [Sattarsetti Nirmala v. State of Telangana, 2021 SCC OnLine TS 167 , decided on 06-01-2021]