Delhi High Court: The Division Bench of Manmohan and Sanjeev Narula, JJ., refused to set aside the order of the trial court granting divorce to the respondent-husband.
In the instant appeal, Appellant-wife impugned the Judgment passed by Principal Judge, Family Courts whereby the Court while rejecting the relief sought under Section 12(1)(a) and (c) has allowed the petition of the respondent by granting divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
Trial Court dissolved the marriage between the parties on the ground of cruelty within the meaning of Section 13(1)(ia) of the HMA.
The nature and the extent of allegations made by the appellant are beyond any controversy. Appellant laid down the allegations under two different compartments:
(i) allegations pertaining to the impotency of the Respondent, and
(ii) allegations with respect to mistreatment, torture and dowry demand against the Respondent and his parents.
The above-stated allegations laid the foundation for the ground of cruelty.
Further, the respondent had brought in evidence to establish before the Court that he was not impotent and the false and untrue allegations were causing him mental stress and amounted to cruelty.
On physical examination by the doctor, the respondent was found to be a normal male adult with fully developed secondary sexual character and organs, normal endocrine and sexual function, and had no problem of impotence.
Trial Court concluded that the credibility of the witness could not be impeached, and since respondent suffered no medical infirmity that could render him incapable of consummating the marriage, the allegation of impotence made by the respondents was not proved.
Bench stated that, since the witness was a very highly qualified medical expert with immaculate credentials, his testimony was rightly relied upon by the Trial Court, hence no interference by this Court is required.
Court agreed with the observations of the trial court and stated that the accusations were levelled by the appellant and the onus lay on her to establish the veracity of the same.
Appellant entirely failed to produce any medical or corroborated evidence that could remotely suggest that the respondent was medically unfit to consummate the marriage.
Whether a false allegation of impotence amounted to cruelty within the meaning of Section 13(1)(ia) of the HMA?
Cruelty can be physical or mental. High Court stated that it is primarily contextual, pertaining to human behaviour or conduct with respect to matrimonial duties and obligations.
Bench observed that it is essential to see whether the conduct of the party is of such nature, that a reasonable person would neither tolerate the same, nor be reasonably expected to live with the other party.
Decision of the Supreme Court in V. Bhagat v. D. Bhagat, (1994) 1 SCC 337 was relied upon, wherein it was held that:
“Mental cruelty in Section 13(1)(ia) 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. In other words, mental cruelty must be of such a nature that the parties cannot reasonably be expected to live together.”
“…What is cruelty in one case may not amount to cruelty in another case. It is a matter to be determined in each case having regard to the facts and circumstances of that case. If it is a case of accusations and allegations, regard must also be had to the context in which they were made.”
ALLEGATIONS MADE IN PLEADINGS
Bench stated that it is no longer res Integra that false, baseless, scandalous, malicious and unproven allegations in the written statement may amount to cruelty.
“If it is established from the evidence that the allegations were evidently false, then such baseless allegations made in the written statement can amount to cruelty and the Court can pass a decree of dissolution of the marriage.”
In view of the above, Court found no infirmity in the trial court’s observations that the allegation of the Appellant in the Written Statement with respect to the impotency clearly falls within the concept of cruelty as defined under the law.
Bench also observed that,
There can be no justification for any party to retaliate by making untrue and false allegations regardless of how provocative the allegations may be. If the Appellant was hurt by the allegations made by the Respondent, she had her legal remedies against the same. It did not certainly give her a carte blanche to make counter-allegations which were untrue and cause deep humiliation to the Respondent.
Adding to the above, Court stated that the imputations and allegations made by the Appellant in the Written Statement were repeatedly reinforced during the trial by giving suggestions to the Respondent and also to his expert witness during the course of their cross-examinations.
Bench held that,
The cruelty in the instant case is of enduring and profound nature.
Concluding the instant matter, Cout held that the appellant and the respondent have been separated for more than eight years and since the separation continued for a sufficient length at time, it can be presumed that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
It was found that a prolonged and continuous separation and the matrimonial bond was beyond repair. Therefore, refusing to severe the matrimonial ties would cause further mental cruelty to the Respondent.
Hence, the trial court’s conclusion could not be faulted with. [Kirti Nagpal v. Rohit Girdhar, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 1466, decided on 20-11-2020]
Advocates for the parties:
Appellant: Manish Sharma, Ninad Dogra and Jigyasa Sharma
Respondent: Prabhjit Jauhar