Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of P. Devadass, J. directed Family Court Chennai to dispose of the interim petition of maintenance by throwing light on the sufferings that women and children have to undergo during such proceedings and due to the unnecessary delay in disposal.

In the present case, petitioner and respondent were married and had later separated due to an unhappy married life. Initially, the husband had sought divorce on grounds of cruelty in the subordinate court, Dindigul which was transferred to family court, Chennai. Further, the wife had filed for pendent lite both for her daughter and herself under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. It has been stated that the maintenance petition was adjourned due to counter being filed by the husband. Thus, the wife-petitioner approached High Court for issuance directions to family court, Chennai in order to dispose of her interim petition.

“In matrimonial disputes, the innocent children are worst sufferers.”

In matrimonial proceedings instituted under the personal laws, the wife and children can seek maintenance against the husband/father, as the case may be. It is to provide them with financial support and it for their survival. Hindu wives can seek pendente lite maintenance in a pending matrimonial proceeding under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriages Act and children can seek such maintenance from their father under Section 26 of the Act.

Object of Section 24 Hindu Marriages Act: Maintenance to a party in matrimonial proceedings in order to provide financial assistance to the spouse to maintain herself or himself during the pendency of proceedings and have sufficient funds to carry on the litigation.

The Court noted another point in the present case that was the delay in disposal of the maintenance petitions under Sections 24 and 26 of the Hindu Marriage Act, for which the Court stated that it is,

“A classic example of ‘Law’s Delay’, ‘Court’s Delay, ‘Judges’ Delay’, ‘System Law’, ‘System Failure’. All the stakeholders in the administration of gender justice shall owe responsibility for this sorry state of affair.”

Further, the High Court stated with a lot of disappointment that, “Women and children are in a disadvantageous position, husbands torture them by dragging on even these simple maintenance petitions for years together.”

The present case is also a classic example for “Perpetration of matrimonial violence and exploitation of women and children by the husbands due to Courts inaction.”

Therefore, noting the above and throwing light on present situation in the Courts in regard to such petitions as mentioned, the learned Judge gave clarity on how the issue of delay of such proceedings can be resolved by placing the stark realities of failure of justice in gender justice and gave directions for the present case by directing the family court, Chennai to dispose of the petition within a period of 15 days from this order.[A. Savitha Ujwala v. M.R. Venkatagiri, 2017 SCC OnLine Mad 1459, decided on 25-04-2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Delhi: While judging the legality and validity of the divorce decree granted to the husband respondent by the learned trial court, the Bench comprising of Pradeep Nandrajog and Yogesh Khanna, JJ., observed that since desertion is often invoked as ground of divorce however it cannot be tested by merely ascertaining which party left the matrimonial home first but if one spouse is forced by the conduct of the other to leave, the desertion could be by such conduct of other spouse thus, the Court setting aside the divorce granted to a husband/respondent held that the learned Judge, trail court had misread the evidence while granting a decree of divorce on the ground that wife /appellant left the matrimonial home without the consent of her husband thereby deserting him and failed to join his company, despite his repeated requests, thereby committing cruelty upon him by denying him  matrimonial bliss.

The Court while examining the contentions of the parties observed that the trail court had erred in passing the divorce decree as it disbelieved all the allegations lodged against the wife/appellant by the husband/respondent and only on the ground that the wife left the matrimonial home without according any reason, granted the divorce decree. The Court while setting aside the divorce decree observed that since the wife never wished to bring her marital ties permanently to an end but was forced by the conduct of the respondent to leave the matrimonial home and that it is the respondent who is guilty of constructive desertion as he failed to prove the behavior of the appellant towards him was such that it ever caused a reasonable apprehension in his mind that it was not safe for him to continue the matrimonial relations with the appellant. The Court further observed that desertion is not a withdrawal from a place, but from a state of things and it is the repudiation by one of all obligations of marriage and it cannot be tested by merely ascertaining which party left the matrimonial home first.  [Nisha Rani v. Sohan Singh Nehra, 2017 SCC OnLine Del 6404, decided on 6th January 2017]

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]