Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where the wife made reckless, defamatory and false accusations against her husband, his family members and colleagues, thereby lowering his reputation in the eyes of his peers, the Court held that mere filing of complaints is not cruelty, if there are justifiable reasons to file the complaints. Merely because no action is taken on the complaint or after trial the accused is acquitted may not be a ground to treat such accusations of the wife as cruelty within the meaning of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955. However, if it is found that the allegations are patently false, then there can be no manner of doubt that the said conduct of a spouse levelling false accusations against the other spouse would be an act of cruelty.

Considering the fact that later, the wife had filed another complaint alleging that her husband along with some other persons had trespassed into her house and assaulted her and that the police found, on investigation, that not only was the complaint false but also the injuries were self-inflicted by the wife, the Court held that though the acts of the wife in filing false complaints against the husband amounts to cruelty, the Court is, however, not oblivious to the requirements of the wife to have a decent house where she can live and since, her son and daughter-in-law may not continue to live with her forever, therefore, some permanent arrangement has to be made for her alimony and residence. As per the facts of the case, the wife continues to live in the house which belongs to the mother of the husband whereas the husband lives along with his parents in a separate house and the son and daughter-in-law of the parties live with the wife. The son is working with the husband.

The Bench of A.K. Goel and Deepak Gupta, JJ, hence, directed the husband to pay to the wife a sum of Rs. 50,00,000 as one time permanent alimony within 3 months and she will not claim any further amount at any later stage. The Court also directed that the wife shall continue to live in the house which belongs to the mother of the husband till the husband provides her a flat of similar size in a similar locality. For this purpose, the husband is directed to ensure that a flat of the value up to Rs. 1,00,00,000 be transferred in the name of his wife. [Raj Talreja v. Kavita Talreja, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 462, decided on 24.04.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Explaining the scope of ‘cruelty’ as a ground for dissolution of marriage, the Bench of R.K. Agrawal and A.M. Sapre, JJ held that a petition seeking divorce on some isolated incidents alleged to have occurred 8-10 years prior to filing of the date of petition cannot furnish a subsisting cause of action to seek divorce on the ground of cruelty after 10 years or so of occurrence of such incidents. The incidents alleged should be of recurring nature or continuing one and they should be in near proximity with the filing of the petition.

In the present case, the husband had alleged that his wife’s behaviour towards his family immediately after their wedding in the year 1999 amount to cruelty. However, they continued to live together and 2 daughters were born out of the wedlock in 2002 and 2006. Considering the facts of the case, the Court said that few isolated incidents of long past and that too found to have been condoned due to compromising behavior of the parties, as admittedly both lived together till 2006 and the appellant gave birth to their second daughter in 2006, cannot constitute an act of cruelty within the meaning of Section 13 (1)(ia)of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

It was noticed that most of the incidents of alleged cruelty pertained to the period prior to 2006 and some were alleged to have occurred after 2006. Those pertained to period after 2006 were founded on general allegations with no details pleaded such as when such incident occurred (year, month, date etc.), what was its background, who witnessed, what the appellant actually said etc. Hence, the marriage between the parties was held to subsist. [Suman Singh v. Sanjay Singh, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 215, decided on 08.03.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: While allowing the application for suspension of sentence of the applicant/accused under Sections 498-A and 306 read with Section 34 of the IPC, the Bench of A.M Badar, J., observed that, matrimonial cruelty is included from the definition of legal cruelty as envisaged in Section 498-A of IPC. It was further observed by the Bench that, ordinary tantrums and discord or differences in domestic life does not amount to cruelty.

In the present case, the applicant/accused married his deceased wife in 2009; however in 2014 she committed suicide by hanging herself. It was alleged by the parents of the deceased wife that the applicant/accused subjected her to cruelty, thereby abetting her to commit suicide, thus resulting in the conviction and sentencing of the applicant/accused under Sections 498-A, 107, 306 and 34 of the IPC and Section 113-A of the Evidence Act. The counsel for the applicant contended that the evidence of the alleged cruelty committed by the applicant/accused is insufficient to prove his guilt.

Perusing the facts and contentions of the case at hand, the Court delved in the interpretation of ‘cruelty’ as envisaged under Section 498-A IPC. The Court observed that a dispute between the applicant and the deceased started over a ‘kaccha chapati’ (improperly cooked bread) and other trivial matters, and the deceased took an extreme step of calling her parents and brothers. It was also observed that the deceased wife was apparently berated for her ‘bad cooking’. Upon examining the aforementioned facts, the Court stated that deceased wife’s reaction was nothing more than a hyper-sensitivity of a wife.

Examining Section 498-A  IPC, the Court observed that, “cruelty implies harsh and harmful conduct with certain intensity and persistence. It covers acts causing both physical and mental agony and torture or tyranny and harm as well as unending accusations and recrimination reflecting bitterness putting the victim thereof to intense miscarries.” Therefore for a conviction under Section 498-A, it must be shown that the conduct of the accused has stirred such strong feelings in the mind of a married woman, that she feels that dying is the only option left with her to escape the torture. Thus in the opinion of the Court, the parents of the deceased wife have spoken more about the matrimonial cruelty committed upon their daughter, than the legal cruelty, moreover the incidents mentioned by her parents which ultimately led to the suicide of wife, were more of an ordinary petulance and discord in matrimonial life. Thus the Court deemed it fit to allow the application and suspend the sentence of the applicant/accused. [Neeraj Subhash Mehta v. State of Maharashtra, 2017 SCC OnLine Bom 62, decided on 13.01.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Delivering its judgment in a petition for the annulment of the marriage on the grounds of mental cruelty, the Division Bench of Pradeep Nandarajog and Prathibha Rani, JJ granted divorce to a couple who had been married for just five months before filing for divorce. The Court observed that though irretrievable breakdown of marriage was not a ground to grant divorce, but the Courts have blended the concept of cruelty with irretrievable breakdown of marriage.

In this case, the Family Court had rejected husband’s plea for divorce therefore he had appealed against the decision in the High Court. The Court noted that in the instant case there had been many instances of mental cruelty faced by the parties from which it was clearly visible that, the couple were going through a difficult phase of their life. Whereas the husband had contended that wife was rigid, rude and shy in nature, the wife complained about illicit sexual relationships, drinking and smoking habits of her husband. Moreover, the wife also alleged that she came to know about her husband’s suffering from an incurable disease only after the marriage which led to concealment of facts from the husband.

The Court observed that where there was evidence that the husband and wife indulge in mutual bickering, leading to remonstration and therefrom to the stage where they target each other mentally, insistence by one to retain the matrimonial bond would be a relevant factor to decide on the issue of cruelty, for the reason the obvious intention of said spouse would be to continue with the marriage not to enjoy the bliss thereof but to torment and traumatise the other. Fast paced lifestyle, complexities of living, a breakdown of support systems and the challenges of economic instability had obviously taken a toll on the couple, the Court observed and granted divorce to the parties. [Anurag Sharma v. Manushi Sharma, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 5871, decided on November 10th, 2016]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: While upholding the impugned judgment of the Family Court granting divorce to the parties, the Division Bench of Pradeep Nandrajog, Yogesh Khanna, JJ. found that the unilateral withdrawal of consent by the appellant from a settlement deed for divorce by mutual consent, without any sufficient cause, amounted to mental cruelty.

The respondent wife had filed a petition for divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) of Hindu Marriage Act alleging that the appellant demanded dowry from her, took away her money and belongings, and casted aspersions on her character. On the other hand, the appellant denied the allegations of cruelty and rather alleged that the respondent was getting rid of him by filing divorce since he is a heart patient. Later, the appellant gave an apology letter to the Assistant Commissioner of Police, admitting his wife’s allegations and seeking reconciliation. However, he contended that the letter was written merely to satisfy false ego of his wife. The appellant had also entered into a settlement with the respondent agreeing to divorce on mutual consent on satisfaction of certain conditions. However, before the Family Court, the appellant withdrew his consent from the settlement deed.

The Court noted that no prudent man would write such an apology, as written by the appellant, for the acts he never committed, and found his contention that such writing was merely to satisfy the ego of his wife, to be frivolous. The Court also noted that though the appellant asserted his right to withdraw his consent at any time prior to the divorce being granted by mutual consent, but when there was no allegation that he signed the Settlement due to force, fraud or under influence and also when the respondent had acted upon the Settlement by forsaking her claim to custody of their son and of her permanent alimony, then the withdrawal of consent would have a different connotation as it adds to the cruelty meted to her. The Court thus concluded that the totality of the evidence established the mental cruelty upon the Respondent by the Appellant, and there was no infirmity in the impugned judgment passed by the Family Court. The appeal was accordingly dismissed. [Rajiv Chhikara v. Sandhya Mathur, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 6224, decided on 08.12.2016]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Dealing with the scope of Section 306 IPC, the Court said that in order to convict a person under Section 306 IPC, there has to be a clear mens rea to commit an offence and that there ought to be an active or direct act leading the deceased to commit suicide, being left with no option.

The bench of Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy, JJ said that the offence punishable under Section 306 IPC is one of abetment of the commission of suicide by any person, predicating existence of a live link or nexus between the two, abetment being the propelling causative factor. The basic ingredients of this provision are suicidal death and the abetment thereof. To constitute abetment, the intention and involvement of the accused to aid or instigate the commission of suicide is imperative. Any severance or absence of any of this constituents would militate against this indictment. Remoteness of the culpable acts or omissions rooted in the intention of the accused to actualize the suicide would fall short as well of the offence of abetment essential to attract the punitive mandate of Section 306 IPC. Contiguity, continuity, culpability and complicity of the indictable acts or omission are the concomitant indices of abetment. Section 306 IPC, thus criminalises the sustained incitement for suicide.

In the present case, where a woman and her 2 daughters committed suicide, the Court noticed the materials on record do not suggest even remotely any act of cruelty, oppression, harassment or inducement so as to persistently provoke or compel the deceased to resort to self-extinction being left with no other alternative. No such continuous and proximate conduct of the appellant or his family members with the required provocative culpability or lethal instigative content is discernible to even infer that the deceased and her daughters had been pushed to such a distressed state, physical or mental that they elected to liquidate themselves as if to seek a practical alleviation from their unbearable earthly miseries.

It was explained that the courts have to be extremely careful in assessing the facts and circumstances of each case to ascertain as to whether cruelty had been meted out to the victim and that the same had induced the person to end his/her life by committing suicide, with the caveat that if the victim committing suicide appears to be hypersensitive to ordinary petulance, discord and differences in domestic life, quite common to the society to which he or she belonged and such factors were not expected to induce a similarly circumstanced individual to resort to such step, the accused charged with abetment could not be held guilty. [Gurcharan Singh v. State of Punjab, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1415, decided on 02.12.2016]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Stating that extra-marital relationship, per se, or as such would not come within the ambit of Section 498-A IPC, the Court held that it would be an illegal or immoral act, but other ingredients are to be brought home so that it would constitute a criminal offence. It was further said that solely because the husband is involved in an extra-marital relationship and there is some suspicion in the mind of wife that cannot be regarded as mental cruelty which would attract mental cruelty for satisfying the ingredients of Section 306 IPC.

In the present case, the deceased had committed suicide due to the alleged extra-marital affair of her husband with a girl named Deepa, who later committed suicide not being able to digest the humiliation. The Couet said that the present case had the potentiality to shock a sensitive mind and a sincere heart, for the materials brought on record show how “suspicion” can corrode the rational perception of value of life and cloud the thought of a wife to such an extent, that would persuade her to commit suicide which entail more deaths, that is, of the alleged paramour, her mother and brother who being not able to emotionally cope up with the social humiliation, extinguish their life-spark.

Explaining the concept of ‘cruelty’, the Court said that coercive harassment can have the attributes of cruelty that would meet the criterion as conceived of under Section 498-A of the IPC. Thus, the emphasis is on any wilful conduct which is of such a nature that is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide.

The bench of Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy, JJ said that in such a situation, it is extremely difficult to hold that the prosecution has established the charge under Section 498A IPC and the fact that the said cruelty induced the wife to commit suicide. The Court said that the wife was guided by the rumour that aggravated her suspicion which has no boundary but such an event will not constitute the offence or establish the guilt of the accused-appellant under Section 306 of the IPC. It was held that if the husband gets involved in an extra-marital affair that may not in all circumstances invite conviction under Section 306 of the IPC but definitely that can be a ground for divorce or other reliefs in a matrimonial dispute under other enactments [K.V. Prakash Babu v. State of Karnataka, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1363,  decided on 22.11.2016]

 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the appeal filed by the in-laws of the deceased upon being aggrieved by the conversion of their acquittal into conviction by the High Court under Sections 498A and 304B IPC, the Court said if the prosecution fails to demonstrate by cogent coherent and persuasive evidence to prove such fact, the person accused of either of the above referred offences cannot be held guilty by taking refuge only of the presumption to cover up the shortfall in proof.

The bench of Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy, JJ explained that the expression “dowry” is ordained to have the same meaning as in Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. The expression “cruelty”, contains in its expanse, apart from the conduct of the tormentor, the consequences precipitated thereby qua the lady subjected thereto. Be that as it may, cruelty or harassment by the husband or any relative of his for or in connection with any demand of dowry to reiterate is the gravamen of the two offences.

In the present case, where the deceased was found hanging from the fan, the Court noticed that the family of the in-laws of the deceased was sufficiently well-off and did enjoy appreciable reputation in the society and no demand as imputed had ever been made. Considering the failure of the prosecution to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt, the Court said that the proof of cruelty or harassment by the husband or her relative or the person charged is the sine qua non to inspirit the statutory presumption, to draw the person charged within the coils thereof. The factum of unnatural death in the matrimonial home and that too within seven years of marriage therefore is thus ipso facto not sufficient to bring home the charge under Sections 304B and 498A of the Code against them. [Baijnath v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1287, decided on 18.11.2016]

 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Dealing with the case where the husband had sought divorce from his wife on the ground that she was forcing him to leave his parents as he was proving them financial support, the Court said that in a Hindu society, it is a pious obligation of the son to maintain the parents. If a wife makes an attempt to deviate from the normal practice and normal custom of the society, she must have some justifiable reason and hence, the Karnataka High Court erred in holding that mere monetary consideration was a justifiable reason to separate the husband from his parents.

The Bench of A.R. Dave and L. Nageswara Rao, JJ added that no son would like to be separated from his old parents and other family members, who are also dependent upon his income, the Court also said that the persistent effort of the wife to constrain the husband to be separated from the family would be torturous for the husband and will constitute as an act of ‘cruelty’.

The husband had also contended that the wife had levelled serious allegations against him regarding his character and about his extra-marital relationship with the maid named ‘Kamla’. However, it was found that no maid named Kamla worked in their house. Hence, the Court said that except for the baseless and reckless allegations, there is not even the slightest evidence that would suggest that there was something like an affair of the husband with the maid named by the wife. On this the Court said that to suffer an allegation pertaining to one’s character of having an extra-marital affair is quite torturous for any person – be it a husband or a wife and amounts to mental cruelty. [Narendra v. K. Meena, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1114, decided on 06.10.2016]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: While judging the legality and validity of the decision of the Family Court, Bilaspur, which issued a decree of divorce and annulled the marriage on ground that if a husband consumes liquor and assaults his wife and her parents in such state would be reasonable enough to constitute cruelty, the Division Bench  comprising of Prashant Kumar Mishra and Chandra Bhushan Bajpai, JJ. upholding the judgement of the Family Court dismissed the appeal on the ground that the trail court has not committed any illegality in granting decree of divorce on ground of mental cruelty . The Court held that assaulting wife in a state of intoxication and creating nuisance at her work place would amount to cruelty for obtaining a decree of divorce.

While interpreting Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 the Court relied on several decisions of the Supreme Court in V. Bhagat v. D. Bhagat, (1994) 1 SCC 337, Sirajmohmedkhan Janmohamadkhan v. Hafizunnisa Yasinkhan, (1981) 4 SCC 250, Savitri Pandey v. Prem Chandra Pandey, (2002) 2 SCC 73, Gananath Pattnaik v. State of Orissa, (2002) 2 SCC 619, Parveen Mehta v. Inderjit Mehta, (2002) 5 SCC 706 and Naveen Kohli v. Neelu Kohli, (2006) 4 SCC 558, wherein it was held that mental cruelty constitutes a 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. The Court further observed that in cases of mental cruelty it is not necessary to prove that any physical injury is caused to the health of the party claiming cruelty.
The Court further stated that there is no straitjacket formula or any exhaustive list of instances which points out that when cruelty is said to be committed by one or the other party to the marriage rather it is a matter to be decided in each case having regards to the facts and circumstances of that case.  [Anindi Mukharjee v. Shraboni, 2016 SCC OnLine Chh 1251, decided on September 15, 2016]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Hearing an appeal against the Family Court’s order dismissing the appellant husband’s petition for dissolution of marriage on grounds of cruelty, the Court observed that the law pertaining to cruelty is if by resuming cohabitation the spouse claiming victim of cruelty forgives the other spouse who commits the cruelty, the alleged act of past cruelty cannot be relied upon to seek divorce on account of the cruelty unless they are revived by subsequent acts of cruelty.

The appellant/husband got married to the respondent/wife on November 22, 2004 according to Hindu rites and ceremonies and a son was born on January 01, 2006. The husband filed a petition under Section 13(1)(i-a) of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 citing several instances of cruelty stated to have been committed by the respondent/wife.

While observing that there was no allegation of physical cruelty being committed by the wife and divorce is being sought on the allegations of mental cruelty, held that the appellant husband failed to prove that he was treated with cruelty.

The Bench of Pradeep Nandrajog and Pratibha Rani, JJ observed that the respondent did not seek dissolution of marriage on account of desertion under Section 13(1)(i-b) of the Hindu Marriage Act but on account of the mental cruelty being committed by the respondent wife. The Court agreed with the findings of the Family Court that none of the incidents enumerated except the accusation of illicit relationship with his bhabhi or creating a scene when he was alleged to be in his bhabhi’s room, amounted to mental cruelty of a level envisaged under Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act. The Court held that it was not a case of dissolution of marriage on the ground of cruelty being caused to the appellant husband. Even if there was any act of mental cruelty, the same was condoned by the appellant by cohabiting till his wife left on April 06, 2008. There was no instance of cruelty being committed by the respondent wife thereafter.

The appellant also urged that the marriage had broken down irretrievably as more than eight years had passed since the respondent wife had left the matrimonial life, hence the marriage may be dissolved by a decree of divorce. Dismissing the appeal, the Court observed that the wife had nowhere expressed her desire to seek a divorce, besides no sincere effort was made by the appellant to save the marriage by remaining in touch with his wife and son or to provide some amount for better upbringing of their son. The case was to seek dissolution of marriage on account of cruelty and not on desertion, hence the appellant was not entitled to seek a decree of divorce claiming that the marriage had broken down irretrievably. [Neeraj Kumar v. Pooja Verma,  2016 SCC OnLine Del 4625, decided on August 19, 2016]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Andhra Pradesh High Court: While interpreting the definition of ‘Husband’s relatives under Section 498A Penal Code, 1860, the Bench comprising of U. Durga Prasad Rao, J. held that the definition could not be stretched to include the wife of one’s elder brother.

In the present petition, the Complainant and her husband went to live at the home of the Complainant’s eldest brother in London, who lived with his wife. It was alleged that the complainant’s husband and her sister-in-law entered into an illicit relationship, and that after the Complainant observed them in a compromising position, following which the sister-in-law started spreading rumours that husband of the Complainant did not like the Complainant and that she was unsuited to him.

The Court cited U. Suvetha v. State by Inspector of Police, (2009) 6 SCC 757 whereby it was held that the girlfriend or concubine of the husband could not be held to be the relative of the husband and Vijeta Gujra v. State of N.C.T. Of Delhi, (2010) 11 SCC 618, which quashed proceedings against a foster sister having an illicit relation with the husband, to highlight the Supreme Court’s view that the term ‘relative of the husband’ meant related by blood, marriage or adoption. The Court stated that penal provisions required strict construction, and in the absence of definition of phrases by statute, they are to be understood in the natural, ordinary or popular sense. The Court, hence, quashed the proceedings against the sister-in-law of the Complainant as she was not a relative by blood, marriage or adoption to the husband but to the Complainant, and additionally because no allegations touching other provisions or of cruelty as defined by Section 498 A were made against her. [Shaik Riayazun Bee v. State of Andhra Pradesh,2016 SCC OnLine Hyd 130, decided on 01-06-2016]

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Expressing concern over the cruelty meted out to elephants owned by private persons in the State of Kerala, the Division Bench of Dipak Misra and R. Banumathi, JJ., in strict terms directed the Chief Wildlife Warden to keep a count of all captive elephants in the State of Kerala and ensure that the requisite declarations and certificates under Sections 40 and 42 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 are duly obtained by the owners. The Court further imposed an obligation upon the State of Kerala to ensure that the various temples in the State are registered with the District Committee as per the requirements under Kerala Captive Elephants (Management and Maintenance) Rules, 2012. The temples are also to mention before the District Committee the number of elephants they will be using during the festivals.

The present case highlighted the need to stop cruelty on animals. The counsel for the petitioner C.A. Sundaram, stated that several private owners have not declared and registered their captive elephants. The contention of the petitioner was vehemently opposed by R. Basant, appearing on behalf of the State.

Adopting a strict approach, the Court cast a duty on the State, the District Committee, Management of the temples, and the owners of the elephants to ensure that no cruelty is meted out to the elephants, failing which the consequences will be severe including confiscation of the elephants to the State. Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre v. Union of India,  2015 SCC OnLine SC 732decided on 18-08-2015

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: In the instant case related to dissolution of marriage, the Division Bench of Vikramjit Sen and A.M Sapre, JJ., observed that a spouse abusing the other using derogatory terms; calling the police on flimsy grounds and refusing to allow close relatives to visit and reside in the matrimonial home, all this amounts to cruelty towards the other spouse, and cannot be termed as normal wear and tear of family life.

In the present case, the appellant had filed for divorce under Section 13 (1); (i-a) of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 on the ground that the respondent was verbally abusive towards his family and would often threaten to lodge false police complaint or commit suicide and used derogatory words like “belonging to prostitute family” for the appellant and his sister. The appellant pleaded through his counsel Vikas Mehta, that he had suffered mental agony of such degree that it became impossible for him continue the marriage with the respondent. On the contrary the respondent through her counsel Shadan Farasat pleaded that, the appellant had been living a wayward life and she was being regularly harassed by her in-laws. The respondent further filed a petition seeking restitution of conjugal rights under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, along with a maintenance petition seeking Rs. 2 lakhs per month as maintenance. On careful perusal of the evidences provided by the appellant, the Trial Court found the allegations leveled by the appellant to be true, therefore the order of dissolution of marriage was passed. On appeal, the Madras High Court dismissed the divorce petition terming the allegations of the appellant to be nothing more than “ordinary wear and tear” that takes place in a marriage.

On perusal of the background of the case and the arguments, the Division Bench was of the view that the appellant had sufficiently proved the instances of mental cruelty presenting various evidences and documents. The Court further observed that keeping with the requirements of Order VI Rule 2 of CPC, the Trial Court meticulously examined the evidences and gave out a well reasoned decision concluding that the respondent’s actions amounted to cruelty upon the appellant, thus the Madras High Court was not justified in setting aside the decision of the Trial Court without giving substantial reasons. Therefore the Court restored the Trial Court’s decision to dissolve the marriage of the parties setting aside the impugned decision of the High Court. Vinod Kumar Subbiah v. Saraswathi Palaniappan, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 386, decided on 24.04.2015

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: While allowing an appeal for dissolution of marriage of the appellant on the ground of alleged cruelty on account of filing of false complaint by the respondent under Sections 498A and 307 of the IPC which deals with cruelty by husband and attempt to murder respectively, the Court cited K. Srinivas Ro v. D.A. Deepa, (2013) 5 SCC 226 which is the landmark case on the point where series of complaints were filed by the wife held that even one false complaint is sufficient to constitute matrimonial cruelty.

In the instant case, the counsel for the respondent contended that acquittal of the appellant and his family members does not make the complaint false automatically and only one complaint was filed by the respondent against the appellant contrary to K. Srinivas case.

The Court in this case also discussed on the point of irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a ground for divorce without giving its opinion and observed that it has not received the statutory acceptance to form a ground for divorce.  The Court has highlighted that Law Commission has recommended the introduction of irretrievable break down of marriage, as a ground for divorce and it has also been incorporated as a ground for divorce in the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill of 2013 which received the assent of the Rajya Sabha. But at the same time questioned its expediency in the Indian situation where oppression of women is so prevalent and left that controversy for the Lok Sabha to decide. K. Srinivas v. K. Sunita2014 SCC OnLine SC 915Decided on 19.11.2014

High Courts

Bombay High Court: Rejecting a man’s plea for divorce, a bench comprising of  Abhay S. Oka and MS Sonak, JJ  held that the appellant husband had failed to prove the alleged serious allegations of cruelty. In the present case the couple had met through a marriage bureau and got married in 2000. The husband had approached this Court after the Family Court rejected his petition, seeking divorce on the grounds of cruelty in 2004. The High Court first suggested to the couple to settle the matter amicably and gave them three months but they were unable to reach any consent terms. The Counsel for the appellant husband alleged that after marriage his wife started putting on weight after marriage and although the husband had tried to persuade her to take medical treatment, she declined to cooperate, thus depriving him pleasures of matrimonial life. He also alleged that his wife had kept him in the dark about a breast surgery which she had undergone prior to marriage. The advocate for the respondent-wife argued that there was no column for disclosing information regarding the surgery in the form provided by the marriage bureau and that wife’s family had  informed the groom’s family about the issue. The Court arrived at the decision taking into account the husband’s testimony before the Family Court where he had disclosed that the marriage was consummated and where he had also admitted that the his wife had taken initiative for maintaining physical relations thereby throwing away the allegations of cruelty. Milind Anant Palse v. Yojana Milind Palse, Family Court Appeal No.106 of 2005, decided on June 10, 2014

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