Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Division Bench of A.M. Shaffique and T.V. Anilkumar, JJ., while dismissing the petition filed in respect to challenging the family court’s order for dissolution of marriage, stated that,

“..Since 2005 both wife and husband have not been able to unite and lead a normal matrimonial life all these years. There is every reason to assume that their matrimonial relationship is emotionally dead.”

In the present case, the wife challenged the order passed by the family court with respect to the dissolution of marriage with her husband.

The contention as submitted by the husband was that immediately after the marriage he had noticed that the wife was suffering from some sort of mental disease and behaving in an abnormal manner and for that reason was treated in Mental Hospital. Later he learned that she was suffering from Paranoid Schizophrenia which had started even before marriage for which she was treated earlier i.e. before marriage as well. Hoping for the wife to be better he continued with the marriage.

Adding to the above contentions, he submitted that she failed to discharge her duties as a wife and take care of her own child. In view of the said, he made his intention very clear in the year 2005 to her father that he could no longer continue with the matrimonial life with her and therefore he needed to dissolve the marriage. Her father agreed to the same and since then the wife has been staying with her father.

In respect to all the stated allegations of cruelty and mental disorder, the husband filed the original petition under Section 10(1)(iii) & (x) of the Divorce Act, 1869. Along with the stated he also sought a declaration that the marriage was null and void since the wife was suffering from the mental disease at the time of marriage.

Wife’s denial

All the stated contentions were denied by the wife, wherein she stated that the child was removed from her custody under the false pretext that she was suffering from some mental illness.

She further added that her negligible behavioural problems were exaggerated and presented before the doctors as acts amounting to mental illness and accordingly all the medical records were manipulated.

Lower Court’s stand

Court below held that the marriage was not null and void and rejected the claim for a declaration. It, however, held that the medical records sufficiently proved the wife to be a Paranoid Schizophrenia patient and she was suffering from the same even prior to the date of her marriage.

The lower court also found that her conduct and behaviour in matrimonial life amounted to acts of cruelty and accepting both the grounds urged under Section 10(1)(iii) & (x) of the Act, the respondent was granted an order dissolving the marriage between spouses.

High Court’s Observation and Analysis

The sole challenge raised in the present petition was with respect to the correctness of the order of the court below granting dissolution of marriage accepting grounds of cruelty and incurable mental illness urged by the respondent.

Court found that there was nothing on record to prove that the wife had been incurablY of unsound mind as required to be proved by Section 10(1)(iii) of the Act.

The essential ingredient to be proved for securing an order of dissolution of marriage under the above clause is that the mental illness shall be of such a nature that it is incurable.

Thus, disagreeing with the view of the Court below, Court held that the husband failed to establish ground under Section 10(1) (iii) of the Act for passing an order of dissolution and impugned order by the family court required interference in this respect.

High Court further noted that the husband had stated that right from the marriage, he had been trying to adjust with the wife and due to her mental ailment, he always had to care of her due to whom he was confined to home and prevented from mingling with associates and participating in social functions. This all resulted in a doomed and secluded life for him. He never received any love or affection from the wife and the same was the case with the minor child.

Court added that it remains to be a fact the child was taken care of by her father since the time of her birth and to the present time the child is with her father. Wife’s inability to take care of the child needs to be taken serious note of.

Continuation of the husband’s matrimonial life would only deprive him of mental peace as apprehended by the husband himself. In view of the stated, the lower Court agreed to it and even the High Court found no reason to disagree with the said view.

For all the above reasons together, the High Court found no reason to interfere with the finding of the Court below and the consequential order of granting the dissolution of marriage. [Dona T. George v. Mathews Purackal, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 4265, decided on 12-11-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Bench of Sudhanshu Dhulia and Narayan Singh Dhanik, JJ. contemplated the special appeals preferred against the judgment of Family Court, where the divorce petition was filed under Section 13 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and was subsequently dismissed but the counterclaim of the wife-respondent for the right of residence was decreed in the favor of the respondent. 

Facts giving rise to the instant appeal were that the appellant and respondent were married. After the marriage, matrimonial discord occurred between the parties and the appellant ultimately filed suit for divorce on the ground of cruelty. The Court below framed certain issues such as, ‘whether behavior of the respondent had been cruel, relief available to the appellant, whether the respondent had the right to reside in the residence of the appellant and whether, in lieu thereof, she was entitled to get the decree for residence right in the disputed property where she was residing?’ Hence, the Court below examined the evidences, dismissed the suit for divorce and decreed the counter-claim of the respondent for the right of residence. The Court had opined that the act of the respondent did not qualify as ‘Cruelty’ so the appellant was not entitled to a divorce. 

The Court observed that the efforts were made to mediate between the parties but no fruitful outcome was possible. In terms of the compromise, the appellant had to pay an amount of rupees seventeen lakhs and fifty thousand, as permanent alimony, to the respondent and after the payment of the said amount, the respondent agreed to vacate the residence in question and both the parties agreed for dissolution of their marriage, with appropriate petition to be filed later before the Family Court. The respondent, however, now had a second thought about the matter as she contended that the amount decided was not enough to get her a decent accommodation in Dehradun.

The High Court further observed that reasons given by the Court below for dismissing the suit for dissolution of marriage was not sustainable and the finding of the Court below that there was no cruelty on the part of the respondent was perverse. The evidence was placed before the trial court and scrutinized. The appellant in his deposition had said that the respondent often used to quarrel with his daughter and eventually started then living in a separate room in the same house and stopped talking to any of the members of the family. It was further contended by the appellant that she used to cook food only for herself, and that too separately, she frequently hurled abuses on her husband and even threatened to implicate him in a false case of dowry.

The Court found that the appellant in his evidence had narrated in detail; the incidents of alleged cruelty suffered by him and as a cumulative effect of the same, any reasonable man would find his life unbearable with his/her spouse. “Cruelty can be both physical as well as mental. Since we are dealing here with human beings and human emotions, cruelty or even “legal cruelty” cannot be precisely defined. What we can say, however, is that cruelty or cruel treatment is something which makes the life of other spouses unbearable. We are convinced that based on the allegations and the evidence submitted by the appellant before the Family Court, a case of cruelty was made out.” The entire body of evidence led before the trial court, had to be evaluated in the light of the conduct of the wife. The conduct of a person has an important bearing in terms of Section 8 of the Evidence Act, 1872. Hence, the appeals were allowed and divorce was granted with an order of permanent alimony. [Raghuveer Kaintura v. Meera Kaintura ,2019 SCC OnLine Utt 718, decided on 07-08-2019]