Chhattisgarh High Court: In a matter pertaining to mental cruelty, the Division Bench of Goutam Bhaduri and N.K. Chandravanshi, JJ., 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.
In the present matter, the decision of the Family Court was challenged whereby the application filed by the appellant/husband for grant of decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty and desertion was rejected.
The appellant/husband pleaded that he was married to the respondent/wife. The husband was engaged in the job of railway guard, and it was stated that before filing the divorce petition, the wife deserted the husband without any lawful cause.
Further, it was alleged that the wife had availed different loans to the extent of Rs 10-12 lakhs, without the knowledge of the husband even by placing the ornaments which were meant for the marriage of their daughter as a pledge to different creditors.
Additionally, the allegation which was also levelled against the husband that he was having illicit relations outside marriage, damaged the reputation of the husband in society, amounting to cruelty and therefore the divorce was claimed.
Analysis, Law and Decision
High Court noted that reading the statements of the appellant, son, daughter and creditor together would lead to show that the wife in absence of knowledge of the husband had availed the loan from a third party.
“In a normal household of the Indian society, the narrative made by the son and daughter that the ornaments were purchased for the ensuing marriage of the daughter appears to be more logical.”
Further, the Bench expressed 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.
Bench stated that, in the present matter, the conduct of the wife which had been projected and incidentally the children, who have supported such fact against the mother that wife without the knowledge of the husband had done away with the security of the marriage of the daughter and had obtained amount from the creditor by pledging the ornaments meant for the marriage of the daughter would certainly cause apprehension and fear and create financial pressure on the mind of the father as the hard reality cannot be forgotten which exists in the society to present a girl during the marriage with ornaments.
Regarding the extramarital affair, Court stated that no reliable evidence was found as the wife’s statement was itself inconsistent.
Further, the Bench stated that, it was obvious that to suffer an allegation pertaining to once character of having an extramarital affair is quite torturous for a person and whereas inconsistently in the statement and only allegation of extra marital affair is raised by the wife casually against the husband certainly which always has a bad impact on the image of a person qua the society, therefore would amount to mental cruelty.
High Court in view of the above discussion, asserted that parting away from the ornaments by pledging without knowledge of husband, which were meant for the marriage of daughter and further the unsubstantiated allegations levelled by wife, assassinating the character of the spouse/husband would amount to mental cruelty to the husband.
Hence, the marriage deserved to be dissolved by a decree of divorce.
The Court granted an amount of Rs 15,000 per month to the wife as permanent alimony, which in turn would be adjustable to any amount paid under Section 125 CrPC.
In view of the above observations, the appeal was allowed. [S. Raju v. R. Rani, 2022 SCC OnLine Chh 711, decided on 8-4-2022]
Advocates before the Court:
For Appellant:- Mr. Shailendra Bajpai, Advocate
For Respondent: – Mr. Palash Rajani with Mr. Pankaj Bhaskar, Advocate on behalf of Dr. Shailesh Ahuja, Advocate