Madras High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: A Division Bench of V. M. Velumani and S. Sounthar, JJ. granted divorce as sought by the appellant-husband on grounds of mental cruelty as the wife suspected the character of the appellant-husband and used filthy language in front of his colleagues and students and also alleged for having extra marital affair with his colleague without being able to provide any substantial evidence corroborating the same.

The appellant husband sought for divorce on the ground of mental cruelty before the Family Court which was dismissed as the appellant failed to prove mental cruelty. Aggrieved by the same, present appeal was filed under Section 19 Family Court Act. The appellant alleged that the respondent/wife developed suspicion about the appellant’s conduct and character and humiliated him by connecting him with his female colleagues. A false complaint was preferred by respondent/wife against appellant/husband before Thiruchengodu All Women Police Station and further tarnishing the image of the appellant came to his work-place and used filthy languages and spoke ill of him by connecting him with other female lecturers and as all his attempts for reunion resulted in failure hence, he was constrained to file divorce petition on the grounds of cruelty.

Reliance was placed on A Jayachandra v. Annel Kaul, (2005) 2 SCC 22 to observe that suspecting the character of other spouse and making complaint to police would certainly amount to mental cruelty, when it is not substantiated by any evidence. The Court noted that in the case on hand, the respondent herself admitted that she did not know the name of the lady with whom the appellant was allegedly having illegal intimacy. Thus, she assumed illegal intimacy only because appellant used to talk with his female colleagues over cell phone. Hence, the doubt created in the mind of respondent is nothing but an assumption without any reasonable basis.

Further reliance was placed on Anusha v. Arjun, (2017) 5 LW 165 wherein it was observed that “the fact remains that the appellant went to the workplace of the respondent on the relevant day and she also apologized for what has happened by way of an e-mail to the respondent. This incident, undoubtedly, would have developed a deep scar in the mind of the respondent. While that be so, we hold that the respondent has established that he was subjected to cruelty at the hands of the appellant.”

Placing further reliance on K Srinivas Rao v. D A Deepa (2013) 5 SCC 226 and Narendra v. K Meena (2016) 6 CTC 440 observed that the respondent /wife caused mental cruelty to husband by suspecting his character and making false allegations of extra marital affair in the presence of his colleagues and students and also before the police.

With regard to one of the contention made by the counsel for the appellant regarding removal of thali chain (mangalsutra) at the time of separation by the wife shows her intention to dissolve the marriage, the Court relied on judgment Vallabhai v. R Rajasabhi (2017) 1 MWN (Civil) 128 and categorically noted that though removal of thali chain per se insufficient to put an end to the marital knot, but the said act of respondent is a piece of evidence in drawing an inference about the intentions of the parties. Thus, the act of removal of thali chain at the time of separation coupled with various other evidence available on record, concludes that the parties have no intention to reconcile and continue the marital knot.

As the appellant and the respondent are living separately from 2011 onwards and there was no evidence available on record to show that respondent made any attempt for reunion during this period, thus, the Court granted decree of divorce dissolving the marriage as the actions alleged by the appellant husband amounts to mental cruelty within the meaning of Section 13(i)(a) Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

[C. Sivakumar v. A. Srividhya, 2022 SCC OnLine Mad 3672, decided on 5-07-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the Appellant : Senior Adv. S. Subbiah;

For the Respondent : Adv. S. Vijayaraghavan.


*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Punjab and Haryana High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab & Haryana High Court: While deciding an appeal arising from a divorce petition, the bench of Ritu Bahri, J. and Meenakshi I. Mehta, J. observed that “the facts and circumstances unequivocally speak volumes of the fact that the respondent has incessantly been filing the complaints against the petitioner as well as his family members and the petitioner even had to go behind the bars in connection with one of those complaints, resulting in harm/damage to his image and reputation in the eyes of their relatives and the society at large”.

Facts and legal trajectory of the case: The marriage between the petitioner and respondent had been solemnized according to Hindu rites and ceremonies in Chandigarh on 26-09-2014. However, soon after the marriage, the respondent allegedly started quarreling over petty issues, threatened to commit suicide multiple times, threatened to file a false case/complaint against the petitioner and his family, and on one occasion, slapped the petitioner in public. On 02-03-2015, the respondent lodged a complaint with the Crime Against Women Cell against the petitioner, his mother, sister, and uncle but later on, she made a statement before the police authorities that she did not want to pursue her complaint further. The respondent again submitted a complaint against the petitioner and his family, in pursuance of which the police had arrested the petitioner under Sections 107/151 of CrPC. and prepared a Calendra against him and his mother. In these proceedings, the petitioner had appeared before the Executive Magistrate, Ambala but the respondent did not make any statement before the said authority and subsequently, the petitioner was discharged on 18-08-2015. After this, the respondent kept filing complaints against the petitioner and his family in the Crime Against Women Cell.

On the other hand, the respondent alleged that the petitioner’s mother and sister wanted to oust her from her matrimonial home and were pitting him against her. The petitioner had also disclosed to the respondent that his mother and sister had threatened to commit suicide in case he took her back to his house. The respondent also claimed that the mother-in-law had demanded a Skoda car in dowry. On one occasion, the respondent had messaged the petitioner saying that she will commit suicide since he had left her outside on the road in the late hours of the night.

Due to such circumstances, the petitioner had filed a petition under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for seeking the dissolution of their marriage by way of a decree of divorce, but the trial court dismissed the petitioner. Consequently, the petitioner filed an appeal in the High Court.

Issue:

Whether the conduct of the respondent would fall within the realm of mental cruelty?

Analysis and findings:

After analyzing the witnesses and evidence on record, the court observed that “the respondent has incessantly been filing the complaints against the petitioner as well as his family members and the petitioner even had to go behind the bars in connection with one of those complaints, resulting in harm/damage to his image and reputation in the eyes of their relatives and the society at large”. The court relied on the case of Joydeep Majumdar v. Bharti Jaiswal Majumdar [2021 (2) R.C.R. (Civil) 289] and held that the respondent had subjected the petitioner to cruelty after their marriage. Even otherwise, the parties have been living separately since 26-01-2015, i.e., for more than the last seven years and therefore, their marriage can safely be termed as a ‘dead marriage’.

Subsequently, the court allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned order of the trial court. The court also allowed the petition under section 13 of the HMA,1955 and dissolved the marriage between the parties.

[Anmol Verma v. Radhika Sareen [FAO No.6969 of 2019 (O&M)], decided on 05-07-2022]

Legal RoundUpWeekly Rewind


Top Story of the Week


Aadhaar Card for Sex Workers| Supreme Court bats for sex workers’ right to dignity; directs UIDAI to issue Aadhaar Card without insisting on address proof 

The Supreme Court has upheld sex workers right to identity and issued detailed directions for their protection and upliftment. The directions ranged from prohibiting police actions against consenting sex workers, police and medical protections for sex workers being victim of sexual assault, holding media accountable for voyeurism on revealing identity of sex workers to directing UIDAI to issue Adhar Card for them without insisting on address proof. 

It was observed that  

“…basic protection of human decency and dignity extends to sex workers and their children, who, bearing the brunt of social stigma attached to their work, are removed to the fringes of the society, deprived of their right to live with dignity and opportunities to provide the same to their children.” 

Read here: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/05/26/aadhaar-sex-workers-without-address-proof-supreme-court-india-judgement-legal-news-updates-research-rights/  


Supreme Court


Insurance companies refusing claims on flimsy/technical grounds must stop! Don’t ask for documents that insured can’t produce 

Insurance companies refusing claims on flimsy/technical grounds must stop! This is what the Supreme Court observed while dealing with  a case where an Insurance Company had refused to settle an insurance claim on non-submission of the duplicate certified copy of certificate of registration of the stolen vehicle. The COurt held that while settling the claims, the insurance company should not be too technical and ask for the documents, which the insured is not in a position to produce due to circumstances beyond his control. 

The Court was dealing with a case where a truck was stolen when and the Court observed the appellant had produced the photocopy of certificate of registration and the registration particulars as provided by the RTO, solely on the ground that the original certificate of registration (which has been stolen) is not produced, non-settlement of claim can be said to be deficiency in service. Therefore, the appellant has been wrongly denied the insurance claim. 

Read here: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/05/23/insurance-claim-rejection-technical-ground-insurance-company-non-production-document-supreme-court-india-judgments-mr-shah-legal-reserach-updates-news/  

Hindu widow’s pre-existing right to maintenance automatically ripens into full ownership when she is in settled legal possession of the property 

Observing that a Hindu woman’s right to maintenance is not an empty formality, the Supreme Court has held that by virtue of Section 14(1) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, the Hindu widow’s limited interest gets automatically enlarged into an absolute right, when such property is possessed by her whether acquired before or after the commencement of 1956 Act in lieu of her right to maintenance. 

Where a Hindu widow is found to be in exclusive settled legal possession of the HUF property, that itself would create a presumption that such property was earmarked for realization of her pre-existing right of maintenance, more particularly when the surviving co-parcener did not earmark any alternative property for recognizing her pre-existing right of maintenance. 

Read here: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/05/25/hindu-woman-right-to-maintenance-settled-possession-absolute-ownership-section-14-hindu-succession-act-supreme-court-judgment-india-legal-research-updates-news/  

IGST on Ocean Freight for imports unconstitutional; Won’t create a level playing field but will drive Indian shipping lines out of business 

In the case where the constitutionality of two Central Government notifications related to IGST was under scanner, the Supreme Court has held that since the Indian importer is liable to pay IGST on the ‘composite supply’, comprising of supply of goods and supply of services of transportation, insurance, etc. in a CIF contract, a separate levy on the Indian importer for the ‘supply of services’ by the shipping line would be in violation of Section 8 of the CGST Act. 

The Court observed that, 

“If Indian shipping lines continue to be taxed and not their competitors, it would drive the Indian shipping lines out of business.” 

Read here: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/05/21/igst-ocean-freight-imports-unconstituional-indian-importers-shipping-lines-supreme-court-india-legal-research-updates-tax-law-news/  


High Courts


Kerala High Court| Right of Press to report truthfully and faithfully; Press shall NOT indulge in sensationalism

Stating that, though the Press has a duty to inform the public, the Division Bench of Devan Ramachandran and Sophy Thomas, JJ., observed that, it is the well-accepted thumb rule that the Press shall not indulge in sensationalism; or in speculating upon the guilt or otherwise of any accused or other individual; or to create an opinion about the comportment or character of a person involved in the Trial; and not to embellish, by impelling or sponsoring an opinion they seek. 

High Court also observed that,

“Press has a duty to inform the public, the publication of lurid details and other sensitive investigative inputs, which are within the sole jurisdiction of the courts to decide upon, certainly require to be put on a tight leash.” 

Read here: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/05/25/right-of-press-to-report-truthfully-and-faithfully-legal-news-legal-updates-law-kerala-highcourt/

Chhattisgarh High Court| Would pledge of ornaments kept for marriage of a daughter and use for self without knowledge of husband would amount to cruelty? 

In a matter pertaining to mental cruelty, the Division Bench of Kerala HC, expressed that, if a spouse by her own conduct, without caring about the future of the daughter, parts with ornaments which were meant for the marriage, it will be within the ambit of mental cruelty done by the wife. 

The Bench also added to its observation that, during the marriage ceremony in the Indian household, the presentation of the ornament is normally done for which the parents start the effort, from an early date. 

Read here: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/05/24/would-pledge-of-ornaments-kept-for-marriage-of-a-daughter-and-use-for-self-without-knowledge-of-husband-would-amount-to-cruelty-chhattisgarh-high-court-law-legal-news-legal-updates/ 

P&H High Court| Can an act of dissent be labeled as sedition? 

Expressing that, in a democratic set-up, there always would be voices of dissent and opinions against rules and protest against actions, P&H HC, observed that, some protests may have aggression but still an act of dissent would not be ordinarily labeled as sedition. 

Bench added to its observation that, to attract an offence such as Section 124-A IPC, there must be deliberate resistance and conscious defiance of authority with a conceived plan aimed to unsettle elected government. 

Read here: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/05/26/can-an-act-of-dissent-be-labelled-as-sedition-punjab-and-haryana-high-court-law-legal-news-legal-updates/ 

Delhi High Court| Once tenant starts paying rent, can he/she turn around and challenge title of landlord? 

In a matter with regard to the grant of leave to defend, Subramonium Prasad, J., expressed that, the tenant cannot merely make allegations that the landlord has other premises without producing some material to substantiate the same. 

High Court added to its observations that, it is a well-settled position that a tenant may take all kinds of pleas in its application for leave to defend but the Rent Controller has to ensure that the purpose of Chapter III of the Rent Control Act is not defeated by granting leave to defend in every frivolous plea raised by the tenant which may result in protracting the case. 

Read here: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/05/27/once-tenant-starts-paying-rent-can-he-she-turn-around-and-challenge-title-of-landlord-delhi-high-court-law-legalnews-legal-updates/ 


Legislations


Motor Vehicles (Third Party Insurance Base Premium and Liability) Rules, 2022 

On May 25, 2022, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, in consultation with the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India, has published Motor Vehicles (Third Party Insurance Base Premium and Liability) Rules, 2022 in order to revise the base premium for third party insurance for unlimited liability. The rules shall come into force on 1st June, 2022. 

Read here: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/05/26/base-premium-for-third-party-insurance-for-unlimited-liability-revised-vide-motor-vehicles-third-party-insurance-base-premium-and-liability-rules-2022/  

IFSCA (Fund Management) Regulations, 2022 

The International Financial Services Centers Authority has revised the Application and Registration Fee under IFSCA (Fund Management) Regulations, 2022. 

Read here: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/05/23/fee-structure-under-ifsca-fund-management-regulations-2022-revised/  


New Releases 


 

Punjab and Haryana High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: In a matter with regard to mental cruelty, the Division Bench of Ritu Bahri and Ashok Kumar Verma, JJ., observed that, even if the husband and wife were staying together and the husband stopped talking to the wife, it would cause mental cruelty and a spouse staying away by sending vulgar and defamatory letters or notices by initiating a number of judicial proceedings could make the life of other spouse miserable.

Appellant-wife came up in the present appeal against the decision of the Family Court by the respondent-husband under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 seeking dissolution of marriage by a decree of divorce was allowed and he had been granted a divorce.

As per the husband, when he filed a petition under Section 13 of the HMA, the behaviour of the respondent was very cruel, barbaric, rude and crude towards the respondent from the very beginning.

It was stated that, the wife had tried to take forcible possession of the agricultural land owned and possessed by the respondent and a civil suit against the appellant was pending in the District Courts, Karnal.

Further, it was alleged that the appellant was living in adultery with some person in the year 2012 and she forcibly turned out the respondent along with his four children from the house.

When the marriage of the husband and wife was fixed by the respondent, husband had requested the appellant to join the marriage, but she taunted that she had no concern with the respondent and his children.

In view of the above, a divorce petition was filed.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court expressed that, even if husband and wife are staying together and the husband does not speak to the wife, it would cause mental cruelty and a spouse staying away by sending vulgar and defamatory letters or notices or filing complaints containing indecent allegations or by initiating a number of judicial proceedings can make the life of other spouse miserable.

The Bench stated that in the present case, after the acquittal in the FIR and dismissal of the domestic violence complaint, enough mental cruelty had been caused to the husband.

Hence, the appellant’s counsel was unable to point out any illegality or infirmity in the impugned judgment.

In view of the above, the appeal was dismissed. [Harbans v. Joginder Pal, 2022 SCC OnLine P&H 1101, decided on 6-5-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

Mr. Avtar Singh Sandhu, Advocate, for Mr. A.S. Rai, Advocate, for the appellant-wife.

Mr. R.S. Budhwar, Advocate, for the respondent-husband.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: In a matter of dissolution of marriage, the Division Bench of Vipin Sanghi, ACJ and Jasmeet Singh, J., expressed that husband and wife together can deal with any situation, if one gets weak or breaks, the whole crashes down.

Husband preferred an appeal under Section 19 of the Family Courts Act, 1984 to quash and set aside the judgment passed by the Family Court.

On grounds of continuous acts of cruelty, the divorce petition was preferred by the wife and the family Court had allowed the said petition against the husband by the impugned judgment.

Husband stated that the issues which require adjudication in the present matter are as follows:

(i) Whether the Family Court was right in striking off the defence of the appellant?

(ii) Whether the respondent/wife was able to prove the charge of cruelty with cogent evidence against the appellant/husband before the Family Court?

Analysis and Discussion


High Court noted while rejecting the plea of the husband that fresh documents cannot be filed at the stage of evidence and are required to be filed along with a reply or written statement.

Order 8 Rule 1A (1) of Civil Procedure Code, 1908 (hereinafter referred to as CPC) mandates the defendant to file the documents in his possession at the time of filing the written statement. In case the defendant fails to file such documents at the time of presenting the written statement, then the same shall not be allowed to be received in evidence on behalf of the defendant.

Section 14 of the Family Courts Act, 1984 empowers the Family Court to receive any evidence, whether or not the same is relevant or admissible under the Indian Evidence Act if, in its opinion the same would assist it to deal effectually with the dispute before it. 

The Bench stated that, the appellant failed to comply with various orders of this Court, as well as of the Supreme Court, and the Family Court qua payment of the maintenance and preferred to indulge in frivolous litigations instead of paying the outstanding maintenance amount. The appellant was directed by this Court to deposit the maintenance amount.

In Court’s opinion, the Family Court was justified in striking off the defence of the appellant.

High Court cited the Supreme Court’s decision in V. Bhagat v. D. Bhagat, (1994) 1 SCC 337, wherein it was dealing with the divorce petition filed by the husband which he amended later from adultery to cruelty.

The Family Court in the present matter had granted divorce to the respondent under Section 13(1)(ia) of the HMA solely relying on the ground of “mental cruelty‟.

Remarking that “Husband and wife are two pillars of the family”, High Court held that, when one pillar gives up and puts all the burden on the other pillar, then it cannot be expected that one pillar will single-handedly hold the house together.

Hence, Court upheld the observation of the Family Court on noting that the husband had put the entire burden on the wife to manage the house, her job, and look after the children and he failed to discharge his duties as a husband and especially as a father.

Lastly, the High Court found that the bond between the parties has irretrievably broken down and wife was subjected to repeated harassment by the husband. Therefore, the wife had well established the ground of mental cruelty by the husband in light of Samar Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh, (2007) 4 SCC 511.

In view of the above, the present appeal was dismissed. [Sunil Kumar Sharma v. Preeti Sharma, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 1263, decided on 2-05-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Appellant:

Md. Azam Ansari, Advocate with Mr Ashfaque Ansari, Advocate

For the Respondent:

Mr Gaurav Goswami with Mr Tarun Goomber and Mr Pankaj Mendiratta, Advocates

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: The Division Bench of Vivek Rusia and Amar Nath (Kesharwani), JJ. dismissed the first appeal filed by the appellant/husband which was filed against the judgment of the Family Court rejecting the decree for divorce.

The marriage of appellant/husband and respondent/ ‘ Wife’ was solemnized on 19-11-1999 under the Hindu ritual and customs. Out of the said wedlock, the respondent/wife gave birth to a son who currently is not residing with the wife. Differences arose between them during 5-6 months of marriage and she went to her parent’s house. Appellant/husband jumped to Family Court by filing a petition under Section 13 (1) (1-A) of Hindu Marriage Act on 13-10-2000 seeking divorce. The respondent/wife applied Section 125 of Cr.P.C. on 09-12-2000 and lodged an FIR for the offence punishable under Section 498-A of I.P.C. on 17-11-2000. She also filed an application under section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 seeking restitution of conjugal rights on 13-12-2000. Vide Judgment dated 30-11-2001, the appellant/husband had been acquitted for the offence punishable under Section 498-A of I.P.C. During the pendency of the aforesaid proceedings, several times compromises arrived between the parties and they lived together for some time. According to the husband, the behaviour of his wife towards his father-in-law and mother-in-law was not good, he had to take a rented house, he made all efforts to keep her happy but no improvement was shown which caused mental cruelty to him. Finally, on 05-04-2012, the respondent/wife called her father, mother and brother and went back to Ujjain along with her luggage and son. The husband again approached the Family Court filing the present petition under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act on 14-07-2012.  Family Court had held that the matrimonial dispute between appellant/husband and respondent/wife was on petty issues, and cannot be termed as cruelty, hence, appellant/husband was not entitled to dissolution of marriage.

The respondent/wife was present with her son and had shown her willingness to live with the appellant/husband. The appellant/husband has shown his adamant attitude and straightway declined to take her back.

The Court was of the opinion that appellant/husband being a husband and father cannot run away from the responsibility towards his son by simply taking divorce on the ground that he wants to serve his mother and father for remaining his life. His son must be the same feeling to serve his father. The appellant has a responsibility toward his son and wife also, he cannot leave them alone at this stage of life. The Court was of the affirm view that the appellant has failed to establish his case to get the decree of divorce. The decree of divorce cannot be granted merely on the ground that husband and wife are living separately since last so many years. The appellant has failed to establish the allegation levelled in the petition by leading evidence.

“Based on Hindu law, marriage is a sacred tie and the last of ten sacraments that can never be broken. Also, it is a relationship that is established by birth to birth. Also, it is not only considered as sacred but it is also a holy union. The main objective of marriage is to enable a woman and a man to perform their religious duties. Along with this, they also have to beget progeny. Based on ancient writings, a woman is considered half of her husband and thus completes him. While a man is also considered incomplete without a woman.”

[Parag Pandit v. Sadhana, First Appeal No. 905 of 2014, decided on 12-04-2022]


For the appellant: Mr Vinay Puranik

For the respondent: Mr Vibhash Khedekar


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: The Division Bench of Sheel Nagu and Anand Pathak, JJ., allowed an appeal which was preferred under Section 19 of the Family Court Act, 1984 against the judgment and decree dated 27-03- 2019 passed by the Link Family Court whereby the application preferred by the appellant/applicant/husband under Section 13(1)(iA) of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 had been rejected.

The marriage of the appellant and respondent was solemnized in 2004 according to Hindu Rites and Rituals. The respondent/wife insisted on living separately as a nuclear family and in order to maintain domestic peace, after 6 months of marriage, appellant and respondent started living separately but despite that respondent/wife used to quarrel with appellant and left for her maternal home without any information. She did not take any interest in household work. Out of their wedlock two children born but due to negligence on part of wife, one child died and only one survived. Respondent/wife used to talk on mobile for hours together and used to move with unknown persons during late night in city which led to filing of application under Section 13 of the Act seeking divorce. Respondent/wife did not appear in the trial Court and remained ex parte.

There were several instances of mediation but none of them were of avail. After perusal of the documents and allegations as contained in appeal, divorce application and affidavit, the Court derived that they shared domestic incompatibility and conduct of the respondent wherein she constantly for more than fifteen years or since 2004, caused irritation, threat, intimidation and avoiding cohabitation on the pretext or the other collectively entitled the appellant to get the decree of divorce.

The Court further considered the case of N.G. Dastane v. S. Dastane, (1975) 2 SCC 326 to emphasize on the understanding of mental cruelty. Court further mentioned a number of cases wherein the Supreme Court had enumerated the illustrative instances of human behaviour which may be relevant for dealing with the cases of mental cruelty the most important being Samar Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh, (2007) 4 SCC 511.

The Court stated that for very long time parties shared domestic dispute and irritability and mental cruelty inflicted by the wife over her husband through her conduct and through her denial of cohabitation. In absence of any cross-examination or rebuttal, allegations of appellant assume importance.

The Court found that the Family Court had erred in rejecting the application for divorce preferred by the appellant whereas divorce decree ought to have been passed in the case. The application under Section 13 of the Act was allowed and it was held that Appellant was entitled to get divorce from his wife, respondent.[Rajesh Bhoyale v. Mahadevi, 2022 SCC OnLine MP 553, decided on 29-03-2022]


Shri T.C. Narwariya, counsel for the appellant.

None for the respondent


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Punjab and Haryana High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Expressing that, Matrimonial cases are matters of delicate human and emotional relationship, the Division Bench of Ritu Bhari and Ashok Kumar Verma, JJ., expressed that, the Court no doubt should seriously make an endeavour to reconcile the parties, yet, if it is found that the breakdown is irreparable, then divorce should not be withheld.

In the present matter, husband-appellant approached the Court seeking to set aside the decision of the District Judge whereby the petition filed by him under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for dissolution of marriage had been dismissed.

Factual Background


The Husband sought dissolution of the marriage on the ground that the wife from the beginning of the marriage was cruel, and harsh and she used to pick up quarrels over trifles without any justifiable cause. Further, the respondent-wife deserted the appellant-husband in 2002 and since then she had not returned to the matrimonial home.

Whenever, the appellant went to meet from his place of posting to meet his wife, the wife’s parents did not allow him to meet the son and wife both. Later, in the year 2006, when the husband requested the wife to company her, she refused stating that is he tried to take her she would commit suicide.

In spite of best efforts, the respondent did not join the matrimonial home, he was compelled to institute a divorce petition. Further, despite giving undertaking before the Court that she would withdraw her complaint and maintenance application file before the Senior Air Force Officer, she did not do so and did not join the company of the appellant, hence, the decree of divorce was sought.

Analysis, Law and Decision


“The institution of marriage occupies an important place and role to play in the society, in general.”

High Court noted that the criminal complaint was made by the wife after the filing of the divorce petition by the husband, however, the fact remained that earlier also she had filed complaints against the appellant before his senior officers in the Air Force which she assured to withdraw.

Filing of the complaint and initiation of criminal proceedings which were found to be baseless and false, do cause harassment and torture to the husband and his family, Bench stated.

Noting that the wife’s conduct of filing a complaint making unfounded, indecent and defamatory allegations against her husband and parent-in-law Bench stated that the same caused mental cruelty.

Respondent wife also bent upon destroying the career and reputation of the appellant-husband as she made complaints against him to his senior officers in the Air Force.

Primary Issue for Consideration


Whether the relationship of the husband and wife has come to an end and if the respondent-wife is not ready to give mutual divorce to the appellant-husband, whether this act of her, would amount to cruelty towards husband, keeping in view the fact that she is not staying with her husband for the last twenty years and there is no scope that they can cohabit as husband and wife again?

This Court along with several decisions also referred to the Supreme Court in Naveen Kohli v. Neetu Kohli, (2006) 4 SCC 558, wherein the Court considered a case of irretrievable break down of marriage. In this case, the wife was living separately for long but did not want a divorce by mutual consent, only to make life of her husband miserable. Thus, the decree of divorce was granted and held a cruel treatment and showed that the marriage had broken irretrievably.

In the instant case as well, the Bench found that marriage had broken down irretrievably and there was no chance of their coming together or living together again. Hence, not granting a decree of divorce would be disastrous.

The consequences of preservation in law of the unworkable marriage which has long ceased to be effective are bound to be a source of greater misery for the parties.

Lastly, in Court’s opinion, the appeal should be allowed, and the decision of the District Judge be set aside and a decree of divorce be granted. The husband was directed to make an F.D. of Rs 20 lakhs as permanent alimony in the name of the respondent-wife.[Devesh Yadav v. Meenal, 2022 SCC OnLine P&H 902, decided on 8-4-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

Mr. Gurpreet Singh, Advocate, for the appellant-husband.

Mr. Gautam Diwan, Advocate, for the respondent-wife.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: While addressing a matter of divorce proceedings, the Division Bench of Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh, JJ., expressed that,

“…every marriage, where the couple stays apart from each other for work or other obligations consensually, is a broken one.”

Instant appeal was filed by the appellant/wife against the respondent/husband under Section 19 of the Family Courts Act, 1984 to assail the decision of the Family Court whereby the petition filed under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 by the appellant/wife for grant of divorce from the respondent/husband on the grounds of cruelty was dismissed.

Aspects that needed this Court’s consideration were:

(i) Whether the long periods of continuous separation between the parties led to the matrimonial bond being breached beyond repair, which tantamounted to cruelty and,

(ii) Whether the conduct of the respondent before, or after the filing of the Divorce Petition has been such as to cause mental cruelty to the Appellant to such an extent, that she cannot be reasonably expected to live with the Respondent.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Longtime Separation

High Court observed that judicial view – in context of longtime separation of parties has been well settled with time. In the Supreme court decision of Samar Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh, (2007) 4 SCC 511, while enumerating instances of human behaviour which may be relevant in cases of mental cruelty, Court had indicated an illustrative list of instances.

Recently in the decision of Sivasankaran v. Santhimeenal, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 702, the Supreme Court held that the court could dissolve a marriage when there is actually no chance of the marriage surviving, and it is broken beyond repair. Court relied on Naveen Kohli v. Neelu Kohli, (2006) 4 SCC 558, it was held as follows:

  1. Undoubtedly, it is the obligation of the court, and all concerned that the marriage status should, as far as possible, as long as possible and whenever possible, be maintained, but when the marriage is totally dead, in that event, nothing is gained by trying to keep the parties tied forever to a marriage which in fact has ceased to exist. …”

Bench observed that,

It is not to say that every marriage, where the couple stays apart from each other for work or other obligations consensually, is a broken one.

However, a marriage where there is neither sharing of emotions, nor of dreams, joys, sorrows, memories (happy or sad), is merely a legal bond.

In the present matter, it was noted that the appellant was treated as overseas wife of the respondent. Appellant was there to only serve respondent in India on short visits after yearly gaps.

Further, it was stated that in the past seven years, after the institution of the divorce proceedings, the parties have admittedly not communicated with each other.

High Court added that the period of separation and the deciduous meetings of the parties were enough to show that their matrimonial bond was broken and beyond repair.

After the marriage, which is now 11 years old, the parties lived together only for a few days together in Lucknow, Agra, Delhi, Nainital and Mumbai, when the Respondent came back from Canada on vacations.

Bench found there was neither a matrimonial home, nor the possibility of ever having one and the damage to the marriage was evident.

The parties in the present appeal are at an age, where they may start a new life, if given a chance. However, keeping them tied to a legal bond would only mean snatching away from them the chance to ever lead a fulfilling life.

 In Court’s opinion, there was no reason to keep the moribund marriage alive.

Respondent’s conduct as appellant’s husband

High Court moving to another aspect, stated that the admitted lack of any financial support – not even occasional, displays the indifferent and inert attitude of the respondent towards the appellant clearly displayed his lack of will to be with the Appellant – either in Canada, or in India.

Another significant point which was noted in the matter was that there were no confidence-building measures that the respondent took to give an assurance that the appellant would be well taken care of and not harmed or left helpless, of she followed him into a far off strange world.

The most bizzare aspects in the matter were the respondent’s allegations for appellant’s father, wherein it was stated that the father of the appellant upon learning of the marriage of the parties, had stated that the petitioner should be “gang raped” for the kind of act she has performed and that the “the petitioner should have been aborted at the time of birth” and that “the petitioner is a curse to the family”.

On noting the above, Court expressed that,

Any self-respecting daughter would find it difficult to continue to have anything to do with a man, who has made such scandalous allegations against her father.

Lastly, while concluding the matter, Bench found that the respondent treated and continues to treat, the appellant’s family with disdain and respondent’s conduct would have caused immense mental cruelty to the appellant, sufficient for her to reasonably conclude that she cannot continue her relationship with the respondent.

Hence, the above conduct noted of the husband caused mental cruelty to the wife and in view of the above discussion, marriage of the parties will be dissolved by a decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty contained in Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act. [Vandana Singh v. Satish Kumar, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 19, decided on 3-1-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

For the appellant: Mr Praveen Mahajan, Adv. with appellant in-person.

For the respondent: Mr Amit Bhatnagar & Ms. Namrata Ranga, Advs. with the respondent in person

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: While deciding a case of a matrimonial dispute where the marriage never took off from the first day and was never consummated and the parties had been living separately from the date of marriage for almost 20 years, a Division Bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ. passed a decree of divorce in favour of the husband on account of irretrievable breakdown of marriage as well as on account of cruelty committed by the wife.

Background

It appeared that the appellant-husband and respondent-wife had a crash landing at the take-off stage itself. The appellant claimed that the respondent’s view was that she had been coerced into marrying the appellant without giving her consent and left the marriage hall at night. An endeavor by the relatives of the appellant to persuade her on the very next day to live with appellant was also not fruitful. The marriage was never consummated. In such view, the appellant issued a notice seeking divorce on the ground of cruelty under Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act.

Respondent filed a petition for restitution of conjugal rights soon after the issuance of the notice. She submitted that it was the appellant who refused to cohabit with her, since her family was unable to fulfil the appellant’s demand for dowry.

After 5 years, the decree of divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage was granted by the trial court and after 6 days of the said decision, appellant got married the second time. The respondent preferred the appeal and the appellate Court set aside the decree of divorce while allowing the petition for restitution of conjugal rights. Thereafter, the High Court restored the decree of divorce granted by the trial court and each stage of scrutiny took 5 years, and 15 years passed in the litigation. This inter alia posed a question mark on status of second marriage of the appellant.

Later, the respondent filed a review petition on the ground that it was not within the jurisdiction of the High Court or trial court to grant a decree of divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage. The review petition was allowed and the same was assailed in the present appeal.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Supreme Court noted that the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage does not exist as a ground of divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act. The Bench referred to several judicial precedents including Hitesh Bhatnagar v. Deepa Bhatnagar, (2011) 5 SCC 234, which opined that courts can dissolve a marriage as irretrievably broken down only when it is impossible to save the marriage, all efforts have been made in that regard, the court is convinced beyond any doubt that there is actually no chance of the marriage surviving, and it is broken beyond repair. The Bench expressed:

“… Living together is not a compulsory exercise. But marriage is a tie between two parties. If this tie is not working under any circumstances, we see no purpose in postponing the inevitability of the situation …”

Incidental question in the present matter was, whether the respondent’s conduct after the initial trigger for divorce amounted to mental cruelty?

Respondent after succeeding before the appellate court lodged a criminal complaint against the appellant under Section 494 of Penal Code, 1860 even though an appeal was pending before the High Court. There were episodes of further harassment by the respondent even at the workplace of the appellant including insulting the appellant in front of students and professors. The respondent also threatened the appellant of physical harm in front of his colleagues.

Supreme Court held that the continuing acts of the respondent would amount to cruelty even if the same had not arisen as a cause prior to the institution of the petition, as was found by the trial court. It was observed:

“The marriage having not taken off from its inception and 5 years having been spent in the Trial Court, it is difficult to accept that the marriage soon after the decree of divorce, within 6 days, albeit 6 years after the initial inception of marriage, amounts to conduct which can be held against the appellant.”

The Court was of the opinion that both the grounds of irretrievable breakdown of marriage and cruelty would favour the grant of decree of divorce in favour of the appellant. Hence, a decree of divorce dissolving the marriage between the parties be passed not only in exercise of powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India on account of irretrievable breakdown of marriage, but also on account of cruelty under Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Act in light of the subsequent conduct of the respondent during the pendency of judicial proceedings at various stages.

In view of the above discussion, decree of divorce was passed and the marriage stood dissolved. [Sivasankaran v. Sathimeenal, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 702, decided on 13-09-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of A.S. Chandurkar and G.A. Sanap, JJ. addressed whether prior to the decision on divorce petition, creating a matrimonial profile expressing the will and consent, would be a ground for divorce.

Factual Background

Respondent and appellant started developing discord in their relations.

Appellant submitted that, after some time in the company of the respondent he found that by nature she was aggressive and would speak utter lies and had an extreme affinity towards her parents and particularly for parents’ residence.

Further, it was also added that the respondent would insist the appellant leave the job and shift to Akola with her and take some new assignment.

The job of the appellant was a permanent job in the High Court. He, therefore, did not agree with the suggestions made by the respondent to quit the job. According to the appellant, this was the trigger point to escalate the conflict between him and the respondent.

Questions for determination 

  • Whether the appellant has proved that the respondent after the solemnization of their marriage had treated him with cruelty?
  • Whether the Judgment and decree passed by the learned Judge of the Family Court rejecting the decree of divorce is sustainable?

Appellant’s Advocate submitted that the arrogant and cantankerous nature of the respondent not only made the life of the appellant miserable but also made the life of his parents miserable.

Further, during the pendency of the petition, the respondent had made her intention of parting ways with the appellant clear, by uploading her profile on two marriage bureau websites.

Respondent had made her intention writ large to get rid of the appellant and begin her life afresh with someone else.

Analysis, Law and Decision

In the decision of Supreme Court in Malathi Ravi v. B.V. Ravi, (2014) 7 SCC 640, it was held that false allegation by one spouse against the other amounts to mental cruelty, It is held that mental cruelty and its effect cannot be stated with arithmetical exactitude. It varies from individual to individual, from society and also depends upon the status of the person.

In another decision, of Supreme Court in Vishwanath v. Sarla Vishwanath Agrawal, Civil Appeal No. 4905 of 2020, it was held that the mental torture caused by one spouse to the another by making wild and false allegations in a report lodged to the authority as well as in the electronic and print media constitute mental cruelty and as such the ground for divorce.

The decision of V. Bhagat v. D. Bhagat, (1994) 1 SCC 337, had considered as to what constitute mental cruelty and what should be the parameters while deciding the cruelty.

Family Court had found that the appellant established the case of cruelty at the hands of respondent in as much as the respondent made unfounded and unsupported allegations against the appellant. Despite the said finding of fact, Judge did not deem it appropriate to grant a divorce decree.

Bench stated that on a plain reading of Section 14 Court has no reason to reject the submissions advanced by the Advocate for the appellant.

In Court’s opinion, the documents produced on record in the form of matrimonial profile uploaded by the respondent on 22-10-2020 can be taken into consideration for deciding the question in controversy in this appeal.

Further, the High Court expressed that on perusal of matrimonial profile uploaded by the appellant it would show that even before decision in the divorce petition she had made up her mind to perform the second marriage. In the said profile she had clearly mentioned that she was awaiting the divorce in pending case.

“…respondent by uploading her profile on two matrimonial websites made her intention writ large.”

In view of the above document, it was inferred that she wanted to get rid of the appellant and wanted to perform the second marriage.

Adding to the above, Court stated that in the written statement, respondent contended that as an obedient wife and daughter-in-law she performed her duties sincerely, but the appellant and his parents did not like her and wanted to get rid of her from the life of the appellant.

In Court’s view, the above statement in the written statement if read in the context of the documents would seriously reflect upon the conduct of the respondent.

Appellant in his evidence stated that due to the false and frivolous complaints and reports made by the respondent to the various authorities, she has caused immense mental stress, depression, pain and agony to him and his parents.

High Court opined that if the Judge of the Family Court had taken into consideration the documents produced on record before Judgment, whereby the respondent had uploaded her marriage profile on two websites, the learned Judge would not have recorded such a finding.

Emphasizing that the evidence clearly indicated that the respondent had no wish and desire to remain in company of the appellant.

If the respondent had sincere wish and desire to save her marriage she would not have taken a conscious decision to perform the second marriage even before the final outcome of the divorce petition.

Further, it was proved that the mental cruelty was such that it would in all probability cause injury to the health of the appellant.

 “…conduct of the respondent to perform the second marriage and not to lead the life with the appellant is writ large from the fact that she did not apply for restitution of conjugal rights.”

 Appellant successfully made out the case that he was made to suffer mental cruelty of a high degree and therefore, he took a conscious decision to get separated.

Hence, family court appeal was allowed.

Hindu Marriage Petition filed by the appellant is allowed. It was declared that the marriage between the appellant and the respondent is dissolved by decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty. [Premdeep v. Bhavana, Family Court Appeal No. 24 of 2020, decided on 27-8-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Shri Hemant Surve, Advocate for appellant

None for the respondent

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

Telangana High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Telangana High Court: The Division Bench of M.S. Ramachandra Rao and T. Vinod Kumar, JJ., while addressing the present matter highlighted the aspects of mental cruelty and desertion.

Respondent 1 who was married to appellant had alleged that since the time of marriage appellant was harassing and ill-treating him and was also abusing along with defaming him in the presence of other villagers.

Appellant filed a false complaint against the husband i.e. respondent 1 and his parents under Section 498-A read with Section 34 Penal Code, 1860 and that the appellant had deserted him and was leading adulterous life with 2nd respondent.

Respondent 1 alleged that the appellant while residing with 2nd respondent demanded big sum of money from the parents of respondent 1, after which she filed another false complaint. Appellant had also attacked and beat up the mother of respondent 1 causing her internal injuries.

Mental Cruelty and Desertion

Summing up the above-stated contentions, respondent 1 contended that leading of adulterous life by appellant with 2nd respondent amounts to cruelty and actions of appellant amounted to defamation, insult and annoyance and since he lost his reputation in the village, he as entitled to decree for dissolution of marriage on the ground of mental cruelty and desertion.

As per the appellant/wife she had denied being in love with 2nd respondent and gave a complaint against the 2nd respondent for sexual harassment.

Appellant denied of all the allegations placed by the husband against her. Further, she also added that her in-laws beat her up during her pregnancy and threw her out of the matrimonial home and she spent four years in her parents’ house during which time the 1st respondent did not bother to call or reconcile with her.

Her in-laws also forcefully took her minor daughter away.

Court below had concluded that respondent 1 could not be expected to live with the appellant since she had illegal contact with 2nd respondent and evidence on record indicated that the appellant was treating respondent 1 with mental cruelty and husband and wife had been living separately since 2015 and the marriage had irretrievably broken down and there was no chance of them living together again. Hence decree of divorce was granted.

Appellant filed the challenge to the above appeal.

Analysis, Law and Decision

One of the grounds for dissolution of a marriage is treatment of one spouse by the other spouse with cruelty, and such cruelty can be either mental cruelty or physical cruelty.

It was noted that the appellant had herself given a criminal complaint against 2nd respondent stating that she was married to 1st respondent and was blessed with a female child , but she was for previous 4 years staying away from her husband and from previous one year the 2nd respondent had lured her with delicious words and told her that he loved her and if she agreed, he will marry her; that she discarded her husband as she was not willing to lead marital life with her husband and when she came to the 2nd respondent and asked him to marry, he refused to marry her. She thus sought to take legal action against the 2nd respondent.

As per the contents of the complaint, appellant had illegal connection with 2nd respondent and had expressed her intention of not willing to lead marital life with 1st respondent who was her lawfully wedded husband.

Fidelity in marital relationship is very important and if one of the spouses is guilty of infidelity, it would certainly amount to causing mental cruelty to the other spouse.

 High Court opined that the Court below did not commit any error in giving the finding that the appellant treated 1st respondent with cruelty by leading adulterous life with 2nd respondent and that she had deserted the 1st respondent and treated him with cruelty and that marriage had irretrievably broken down and there was no chance of them living together again.

Hence no merit in the appeal was found leading to its dismissal.[Laxmi Meenakshi v. Chetty Mahadevappa, 2021 SCC OnLine TS 469 , decided on 09-04-2021]

Chhattisgarh High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

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

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

Factual Matrix

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

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

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

Incidents of abnormal behaviour

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

Respondent denied all the allegations.

Analysis, Law and Decision

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Advocates before the Court:

For Appellant Mr D.N. Prajapati, Advocate

For Respondent Mr C.K. Sahu, Advocate

Case 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

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

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

Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Advocates for the parties:

For Appellant: G. Saravanabhavan

For Respondent: S. Xavier Felix

Kerala High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

To marry or not to marry and if so whom, may well be a private affair. But, the freedom to break a matrimonial tie is not.

(N.G. Dastane v. S. Dastane: (1975) 2 SCC 326).

Kerala High Court: The Division Bench of C.K. Abdul Rehim and R. Narayana Pisharadi, JJ., while addressing the instant petition highlighted the observation that:

a petition for divorce under Section 27 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 can be filed only when the marriage is solemnised or deemed to be solemnised under the provisions of that Act.

Husband in the instant case has challenged the divorce decree passed by the Family Court filed by the wife.

Section 27(1)(d) of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 provides that, subject to the provisions of that Act and the Rules made thereunder, a petition for divorce may be presented to the District Court either by the husband or the wife on the ground that the respondent has treated the petitioner with cruelty.

Petitioner and respondent had solemnised their marriage under the provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

Primary allegation against the respondent was that he was always suspicious of the moral character of the petitioner and that he always used to make accusations of infidelity and immorality against her.

Highlight in the petition

Imputations made by the respondent on the character of the petitioner, especially the accusation of illicit relationship by her with her colleagues in the profession.

Whether the conduct of the respondent imputing infidelity and immorality on the petitioner amounts to inflicting mental cruelty?

Mental cruelty is 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 (See V. Bhagat v. D. Bhagat : (1994) 1 SCC 337)

Bench stated that to constitute cruelty, the conduct complained of must be something more serious that ‘ordinary wear and tear of married life’.

In the instant case, it was submitted that the respondent had publicly humiliated the petitioner by telling two strangers that his wife was sleeping with another man on the previous night.

Court noted that it was proved that the respondent had informed the colleagues of the petitioner in the hospital that she was having an affair with another doctor. Thus the respondent made the petitioner a subject of scandal in the hospital where she was working.

Due to the above-stated petitioner had to resign from the hospital on account of shame.

The above-discussed incidents proved that the respondent was in the habit of imputing infidelity and immorality on the part of his wife.

Injury to reputation is an important consideration in dealing with the question of cruelty.

In Raj v. Kavita : (2017) 14 SCC 194, Supreme Court held that, the conduct of a spouse levelling false accusations against the other spouse which would have the effect of lowering his/her reputation in the eyes of his/her peers, would be an act of cruelty.

In Narendra v. Meena: (2016) 9 SC 455, Supreme Court held that, levelling of absolutely false allegations and that too with regard to an extra-marital life, is quite serious and that can surely be a cause for mental cruelty.

With regard to the above discussions, it was observed that

Unending accusations and imputations can cause more pain and misery than physical beating.

Legal Cruelty

Bench expressed that, in a delicate human relationship like matrimony, one has to see the probabilities of the case. One has to see what are the probabilities in a case and legal cruelty has to be found out, not merely as a matter of fact, but as the effect on the mind of the complainant spouse due to the acts or omissions of the other.

Court further in line with the above discussions also stated that

Any woman with reasonable self-respect and power of endurance would find it difficult to live with such a suspicious and taunting husband.

Hence, the lower Court’s conclusion that the petitioner was treated with cruelty by the respondent and she was entitled to get divorce decree in light of the same was correct.

Special Marriage Act, 1954

Appellant’s Counsel submitted that since the marriage was solemnised in a church, the marriage solemnised under the provisions of Special Marriage Act, 1954 would not prevail and the petition for divorce filed under Section 27 of the said Act would not be maintainable.

Hence, the petition for divorce should have been filed under Section 10 of the Divorce Act, 1869.

The Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872 is not applicable to territories which were comprised in the erstwhile State of Travancore – Cochin existed before the 1st November 1956.

The marriage between the parties in the instant case had taken place in an area comprised in the erstwhile Travancore State.

Therefore, the marriage between the parties in the instant case was not governed by the provisions of the above-mentioned statute.

High Court observed that when the marriage is not governed by any statutory law, the validity of the marriage has to be decided in accordance with the personal law applicable.

Further, it followed that there was no valid marriage solemnised between the parties in the church. If that be so, the marriage solemnised as per the provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 is the valid marriage that existed between the parties.

Adding to the above, bench stated that had the marriage between the parties conducted in the church been valid, it was not necessary for the parties to solemnise the marriage under Chapter II of the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

The very fact that the marriage between the parties was solemnised by them under the provisions of Chapter II of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 would indicate that the parties were also aware and conscious of the fact that the marriage between them conducted in the church was not valid.

In Stephen Joshus v. J.D. Kapoor: 58 (1995) DLT 57,

the parties were Christians who had been married to each other under the provisions of the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872. A joint petition was preferred by them under Section 28 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 seeking the dissolution of marriage by a decree of divorce by mutual consent.

The trial court dismissed the petition on the ground that the marriage was solemnised under the Christian Marriage Act whereas divorce had been sought under the Special Marriage Act and therefore, the petition was not maintainable.

The Delhi High Court held that sub-section (2) of Section 28 of the Special Marriage Act confers jurisdiction upon the District Court to grant a decree, declaring the marriage to be dissolved only on the satisfaction that the marriage has been solemnised under that Act and therefore, upheld the dismissal of the petition by the lower court.

In Aulvin v. Chandrawati: 1974 SCC OnLine All 285,

the husband filed a petition for divorce against the wife on the ground of desertion under Section 27 of the Special Marriage Act. The parties were admittedly Christians and they were married in a Christian church according to Christian rites.

The wife contended that since the parties were Christians and had been married under the provisions of the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872, the petition for divorce should have been filed under Section 10 of the Divorce Act, 1869 and the petition filed under Section 27 of the Special Marriage Act was not maintainable.

The Allahabad High Court held that the petition for divorce presented under Section 27 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 was not maintainable since the marriage between the parties was neither solemnised nor registered under that Act.

Hence, the Court held that the marriage between the petitioner and respondent in the church was not valid and marriage solemnised under the provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 would prevail over it. If only the marriage conducted between the parties in church was valid, the solemnisation of marriage under Chapter II of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 would have been an exercise in futility.

Therefore, the divorce petition under Section 27 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 would not be maintainable.[Kiran Kumar v. Bini Marim Chandi, 2018 SCC OnLine Ker 13579, decided on 11-10-2018]


Advocates who appeared before the Court:

For Appellant:

SRI.S.V.PREMAKUMARAN NAIR
SMT.M.BINDUDAS
SMT.P.S.ANJU
SRI.P.K.JANARDHANAN
SRI.R.T.PRADEEP

For Respondent:

SMT.MAJIDA.S
SMT.MAJIDA.S CAVEATOR
DR. SEBASTIAN CHAMPAPPILLY AMICUS CURIAE
Uttarakhand High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Bench of Ravi Malimath and Narayan Singh Dhanik, JJ., dismissed and appeal which was filed aggrieved by the judgment and order of the Principal Judge, Family Court whereby the suit of the plaintiff-husband (respondent herein) for dissolution of marriage was decreed.

The marriage of Rajesh Gaur (plaintiff-respondent) was solemnized with Anita Gaur (defendant-appellant) as per Hindu customs and ceremonies on 12-05-1999 after which they shifted to Mumbai where the plaintiff-respondent was running his business. Two children were also born out of wedlock. On 3-06-2014, husband (plaintiff-respondent) instituted a suit under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act against the wife (defendant-appellant) seeking a decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty. He had alleged that about five years ago there was a sudden change in the behavior of his wife and the valuable articles, jewellery, cash, etc. started missing from the house. Further, he alleged that 2-3 years thereafter, he had started receiving telephone calls of crooked persons asking him either to return the money else he would be abducted. On being asked the plaintiff-respondent confessed to him that she had borrowed money on interest @ 10 percent per month and she also had purchased ornaments and clothes on credit. After getting continuous threats of abduction and capture of his flat the defendant-appellant fearing for his life and liberty decided to come back to Dehradun along with his wife; thereafter a Panchayat was held in the village in which the defendant-appellant admitted her mistakes in writing but even after that quarrels and scenes had become common on several occasions and it was impossible for the plaintiff-respondent to continue to live with the defendant-appellant. The defendant-appellant however in the written statement denied the allegations of the plaintiff-respondent but admitted borrowing money amounting to Rs. 10,00,000 for household expenses, payment of school fees, etc. She also submitted that she was being badly harassed by the plaintiff-respondent; and that she made a complaint in the Women Cell and also lodged a case under Section 494, Penal code, 1860 against him. After examining the evidence the court decreed the suit for divorce holding that the reasons stated for instituting the suit and the acts alleged by the plaintiff against his wife qualified to come under the category of cruelty.

The Court while dismissing the appeal affirmed the order of the Family Court explaining that the word “cruelty’ was not defined under the Act and it could be physical or mental. The Court relied on various judgments of the Supreme Court like in Praveen Mehta v. Inderjit Mehta, (2002) 5 SCC 706, where it was held that “Mental cruelty cannot be established by direct evidence and it is necessarily a matter of inference to be drawn from the facts and circumstances of the case.” In Raj Talreja v. Kavita Talreja, (2017) 14 SCC 194 the Court had held that “cruelty can never be defined with exactitude.’ The Court also stated that the plaintiff-respondent failed to substantiate the allegations which she had made against the plaintiff-respondent. The Court consequently held that:

“All these acts and conduct, in our considered view, constitute cruelty. Further, as is evident, it was not a solitary instance of cruelty on the part of the defendant-appellant. The defendant-appellant indulged in repeated acts of cruelty and misbehavior with her husband.”[Anita Gaur v. Rajesh Gaur, 2020 SCC OnLine Utt 503, decided on 24-08-2020]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench of Hima Kohli and Asha Menon, JJ., while addressing a matrimonial appeal filed on behalf of the husband, held that,

Adultery can only be committed after marriage, allegation of having relationship before marriage cannot be a ground of adultery.

Petitioner being aggrieved by the Family Court’s decision of dismissal of his petition wherein he sought dissolution of his marriage with respondent 1 under Section 13(1)(i) and (ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, filed the present appeal.

It has been alleged that right after the marriage wife of the petitioner had started showing her disinterest in the marriage, he states that respondent 1/ wife had allegedly abused the appellant/husband and his family members and proclaimed that she had no interest in the marriage.

Further she even disclosed of having a love affair with respondent 2 and that she desired to marry him.

Late after a few months, she left with all the valuables and leaving a letter in which she stated that she will not return back and preferred to live her life with respondent 2.

However, respondent 1/wife was brought back by her brother but appellant/husband did not allow her to enter the house.

Thus, in view of the above facts, petition for divorce was filed.

Respondent’s Stand

Wife/Respondent 1 while opposing the divorce petition admitted that she had disclosed about her previous affair but claimed that it was only after long discussions with her husband and his family members.

Further she submitted that the husband’s family had started harassing and torturing her for dowry and pressurised her to bring a luxury car which she could not fulfill.

Withe regard to above letter mentioned, she submitted that her sister-in-law had compelled her to write whatever husband’s family members forced her to write and sign.

On one incident, an actual attempt was also made to kill her by pressing her neck and she was saved only because neighbours had gathered on hearing her cries.

Her in-laws hatched a conspiracy to kill her by suffocating her with a pillow. During the said incident, she had received injuries on various parts of her body. The appellant/husband and his family members thought that she might die and so, she was thrown near her parental village.

A complaint against the appellant/husband and his family members under Section 498-A, 307, 504 and 506 of Penal Code, 1860 had been filed.

Analysis and Decision

Bench while analysing the the matter noted that the appellant failed to prove his entitlement to divorce in the grounds of adultery under Section 13(1)(i) of the Act.

Further the Court observed that,

Cruelty is no doubt, not measurable as a tangible commodity, but the standard for determining as to whether a particular conduct amounts to cruelty or only to normal wear and tear of marriage, has been the subject matter of several decisions of the Supreme Court.

Cruelty

Court also relied on the Supreme Court case: V. Bhagat v. D. Bhagat, AIR 1994 SC 710, wherein the following was held:

Mental cruelty in Section 13(1)(i-a) can broadly be defined as that conduct which inflicts upon the other party such mental pain and suffering as would make it not possible for that party to live with the other. In other words, mental cruelty must be of such a nature that the parties cannot reasonably be expected to live together.

As per the incidents stated by the appellant none of them, if at all committed, amount to “cruel” conduct.

To the above, bench stated that, a new bride would be hesitant in her new surroundings in the matrimonial home.

It is always for the husband’s family to make the new bride feel at home and accepted as a family member. Therefore, such conduct of the respondent 1/wife of being interested in remaining in her room or not showing initiative in doing household work can by no stretch of imagination be described as cruel behaviour.

Thus, in Court’s opinion, Family Court’s conclusion including the observation of accusation of adultery being heaped by the appellant/husband on respondent 1/wife are without any proof.

Thus the present appeal of the husband was dismissed in the above view. [Vishal Singh v. Priya, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 638 , decided on 12-06-2020]

Uttarakhand High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Bench of Alok Singh and Narayan Singh Dhanik, JJ. contemplated an appeal filed against the judgment passed by Additional Judge, Family Court, where the suit filed by the petitioner under Section 13 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 was dismissed.

The background of the appeal was that the appellant-husband was married to the respondent-wife since 2009 and they had a child born out of wedlock. The appellant filed a divorce petition under Section 13 of Hindu Marriage Act, it was pleaded that soon after the marriage, relations between the parties to matrimony soured and he was treated with cruelty by the respondent. It was contended by the appellant that the respondent created nuisance at his place of work and was always quarreling, it was further alleged that she misbehaved with the in-laws and caused mental harassment to them. The appellant informed the Court that the respondent tried to commit suicide and implicated the appellant and his parents for abetting the commission of such suicide. Respondent also threatened to implicate them in the false case of torture for dowry. After such behavior of the respondent, the father of the appellant filed an FIR against the respondent. It was further alleged that the respondent left the matrimonial house and started living separately in her parental house. Ultimately the appellant and the respondent entered into a compromise and the appellant withdrew the divorce suit, but things didn’t turn out well and appellant had to file the divorce suit again on the basis of cruelty.

The respondent – wife admitted that she left the appellant’s house several times and since 2013, she was living with her parents. However, she alleged that she did on account of the misbehavior and torture by the appellant and his parents. It was further contended that the appellant wanted to use her for immoral purposes. But she refused to give him a divorce.

The Court below dismissed the suit of divorce filed by the appellant, after examining the evidences and pleadings of the parties. The suit was dismissed as reasons stated for instituting the suit and the acts alleged by the plaintiff against his wife do not come under the category of cruelty.

Counsel for the appellant contended that the Court below erred in holding that the reasons stated for instituting the suit for divorce do not come under the category of cruelty. It was also contended that it was not even pointed out as to how the evidence adduced by the appellant was in any way deficient to prove cruelty. It was further contended that on the basis of the averments made by the appellant and the evidence adduced in support thereof, the mental cruelty was clearly established and in any case the marriage has been broken down irretrievably. It was also contended that divorce in the present case should not be withheld as the parties are living separately since long which proves that their marriage has become unworkable.

Counsel for the respondent contended that general and vague allegations of misbehavior were made which were not sufficient to prove the allegation of cruelty on the part of the respondent and the Court below had rightly rejected the suit of the appellant – plaintiff.

Hence, the Court stated that reasons given by the Family Court for dismissing the suit for dissolution of marriage were not sustainable and the finding of the Court below that there was no cruelty on the part of the respondent was perverse. The Court scrutinized the evidences and observed that the pattern of misbehavior of the respondent was continuous, the duo was living separately since a very long time and an FIR was also registered against the respondent for threatening to commit suicide. Further, the Court relied upon, A. Jayachandra v. Aneel Kaur, (2005) 2 SCC 22 where the Supreme Court had expressed that “cruelty’ has been used in relation to human conduct or human behavior. It is the conduct in relation to or in respect of matrimonial duties and obligations. Cruelty is a course or conduct of one, which is adversely affecting the other. The cruelty may be mental or physical, intentional or unintentional

Court, held that the appellant had narrated a detailed story of the incidents of alleged cruelty, and hence ‘any reasonable man would find his life unbearable with his/her spouse. Cruelty can be both physical and mental. Since we are dealing with human beings and human emotions, cruelty or even ‘legal cruelty’ cannot be precisely defined.’ Thus, the judgment passed by the Family court was reversed and divorce was granted as the Court had observed that the marriage had broken irretrievably and there was no return.[Indresh Gopal Kohli v. Anita, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 953, decided on 20-09-2019]