There can be no greater cruelty than making false allegations against the “chastity” of a woman, the Delhi High Court Wednesday observed while granting divorce decree to a woman on the grounds of cruelty and desertion noting that the couple has been living separately for the last 27 years.
The high court said the term “mental cruelty” is wide enough to take within its ambit the “financial instability”, and added that financial instability is bound to result in mental anxiety on account of husband not being settled in any business or profession and can be termed as a constant source of mental cruelty to the wife.
“It emerges that ‘mental cruelty’ cannot be defined in any straight jacket parameter. The circumstances and the situation of the spouses have to be considered to ascertain if certain acts, which are complained of, would be a source of mental agony and pain.
“In the present case, it is easy to decipher the mental trauma as the appellant (woman) was working and the respondent (husband) was not working. There was a huge disparity in the financial status of the appellant and the respondent. The endeavours of the respondent to be able to sustain himself had admittedly failed,” a bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna said.
The woman approached the high court challenging a family court’s decision dismissing her plea to grant a divorce decree on the grounds of cruelty and desertion.
The woman said in her plea that the man had started levelling allegations against her of having illicit relationship with her brother-in-law and many other persons.
The court noted that the husband has vaguely replied that there was constant interference of her brother-in-law and other family members and said this lends credence to the woman’s testimony.
“There can be no greater cruelty than making false allegations against the chastity of a woman,” it said.
The bench observed that a dead relationship only brings pain and agony and “we find that the court cannot be a party to perpetuation of such mental cruelty”.
“The marriage ties which if kept lingering on account of irreconcilable differences and protracted litigation, only bring more cruelty and acrimony. Therefore, such a situation of separation of more than 27 years since December, 1996 is a ground for dissolution of marriage on the ground of cruelty. We, therefore, hold that the appellant is entitled to divorce on the ground of cruelty under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955,” the high court said.
The couple got married in 1989 and no child was born to them and they parted ways in 1996.
The woman submitted that she was working with a multi-national company prior to her marriage and it was represented to her that the man was a Delhi University graduate and was earning Rs 10,000 per month from different sources. It was represented that the man’s family has a good financial status and position and they owned a two and a half storey bungalow in Delhi.
However, after the marriage, she came to know that the man was not a graduate and not working in any concern and he also had no job and the only money he used to get was from his mother.
The man denied all the allegations levelled against him, including that of dowry demands and cruelty.
The high court said the very fact that the parties have been living separately since November 1996 and no conciliation has taken place for the past about 27 years, proves that the parties were unable to sustain their matrimonial relationship.
For a couple to be deprived of each other’s company and of conjugal relationship can be interpreted only as amounting to mental cruelty, it said.
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