Tag Archives: divorce

False Criminal Cases filed by Wife – Amounts to Cruelty

There is no quarrel to the proposition that initiation of the criminal case by the wife would not automatically lead to passing a decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty. There is, also, no denial that irretrievable breakdown of marriage is no ground for divorce. No decree for divorce could be granted on the ground of ordinary quarrels that is to say, the cruelty simplicitor is not enough, and the husband is to prove that cruelty is of a nature as to give rise to a reasonable appreciation in his mind that it will be harmful for him to live with his wife.

On the complaint of the wife under Sections 498A, 406 and 313 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, not only the husband but also his parents, his elder brother and his sisters-in-law were implicated and charge sheeted. The husband and his parents were arrested. The husband and his father remained in police custody for nine days. On trial, all the accused persons were acquitted as the criminal Court disbelieved the evidence of the prosecution. Rather it was proved that respondent/wife was conceived and on 17.06.2007 she got aborted in one Nursing Home out of her own volition. The respondent/wife had no intention of living with the husband as would appear from the facts and circumstances of the case and respondent/wife deliberately made wild allegations against the husband and his relatives. Inference can be drawn that the wife had no intention to reside with the husband and her intention was to terminate the matrimonial relationship. Hence such acts of the respondent/wife, specially filing a criminal case and for which her husband and father-in- law languished in the custody amounts to cruelty so as to create an apprehension about life and, thus, it amounts to ground of divorce. Suchitra Kumar Singha Roy v. Arpita Singha Roy, F.A. No. 135 of 2014, decided on 20.03.2020 (Cal HC)

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Domestic Violence – Amounts to Cruelty

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, as the object behind its enactment would indicate, is to provide a civil remedy to victims of domestic violence as against the remedy in criminal law which is what is provided under Section 498-A of the Penal Code. The definition of “domestic violence” in the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 contemplates harm or injuries that endanger the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, whether mental or physical, as well as emotional abuse. The said definition would certainly, for reasons stated above, have a close connection with Explanations (a) & (b) to Section 498-A of the Penal Code which define “cruelty”. The provisions contained in Section 498-A of the Penal Code, undoubtedly, encompass both mental as well as the physical well-being of the wife. Even the silence of the wife may have an underlying element of an emotional distress and mental agony. Her sufferings at the parental home though may be directly attributable to commission of acts of cruelty by the husband at the matrimonial home would, undoubtedly, be the consequences of the acts committed at the matrimonial home. Such consequences, by itself, would amount to distinct offences committed at the parental home where she has taken shelter. The adverse effects on the mental health in the parental home though on account of the acts committed in the matrimonial home would amount to commission of cruelty within the meaning of Section 498-A at the parental home. The consequences of the cruelty committed at the matrimonial home results in repeated offences being committed at the parental home. Rupali Devi v. State of U.P., (2019) 5 SCC 384

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Complaint – Not Sustainable

A reading of the complaint does not show that any incident amounting to domestic abuse as defined under the Domestic Violence Act is set out against the petitioners herein after the year 2011 till such time as the petition was filed in the year 2015, which becomes a substantial ground for this Court to interfere. The complainant has also not been able to establish that there was a ‘shared household’ with the petitioners as the husband of the complainant-respondent was in a Government job and residing separately from the petitioners, which fact has not been controverted. The respondent has not been able to establish a “domestic relationship” as defined under Section 2(f) of the Domestic Violence Act of 2005 to be able to sustain a complaint against the petitioner. Hazura Singh v. Jaspreet Kaur, 2020 P & H 107.

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Void and Voidable Marriages

Section 11 of the Hindu Marriage Act provides for void marriages which may be declared as a nullity and lays down that void marriages are those marriages which are solemnized in contravention of Clauses (i), (iv) and (v) of Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act.

        Section 12 of the Hindu Marriage Act provides for voidable marriages and that a marriage performed in contravention of the Clause (ii) of Section 5 to be declared as void.         The marriages performed in violation of the Clauses (i), (ii), (iv) and (v) of Section 5 alone are void or voidable and can be declared a nullity, but not the marriages solemnized in contravention of Clause (iii) of Section 5 of the Act. Therefore, a marriage solemnized in contravention of Clause (iii) of Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act, i.e., before the parties attain the marriageable age, is neither void nor voidable and cannot be declared a nullity. Kamlesh Yadav v. Surmila, 2018 (151) ALR 132.

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Section 125 CrPC – Is a Measure of Social Justice

It is pertinent to mention that Section 125 CrPC is a measure of social justice and it is intended to protect the wife and her children who has no means to maintain herself. It has been held in Bhagwandutt v. Kamla Devi, AIR 1975 SC 83, that while assessing the amount of maintenance under Section 125 CrPC, the Magistrate is required to consider the standard of living and background of the wife alongwith the status of her family. The needs and requirements of the wife should be in consonance with her own income, if any, and the earning of the husband and his commitment as husband. It is also pertinent to mention that Section 125 CrPC is to prevent destitution in wife who may have been even divorced. The husband is under obligation to give maintenance to the divorced wife who by herself is not able to maintain herself. It is husband’s moral obligation which he owes to the society in respect of his wife and children, so that they are not left beggared and to prevent destitution as without financial support she may be driven to a life of vagrancy, immorality and crime for her subsistence. Major Ankur Gupta v. State of U.P., 2020 (138) ALR 52.

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Divorce Petition – Before Lapse of One Year From the Date of Marriage

In Manish Sirohi v. Smt. Meenakshi, AIR 2007 All 211, the husband made an application for divorce and the wife took a stand in the written statement that she is not inclined to continue marital relationship with her husband. However the said application was rejected by the court below on the ground that as per Section 14 of the Act, court cannot entertain any petition for dissolution of marriage unless at the date of presentation of the petition one year has elapsed from the date of the marriage. When the matter reached the High Court, it was held as under:

            “We have gone through the provision contained under the proviso to section 14 of the Hindu Marriage Act and we find that the High Court can allow to present the present the petition before lapse of one year from the date of marriage on the ground that the lapse is one of exceptional hardship to the petitioner or of exceptional depravity on the part of the respondent. It appears to us that when immediately after marriage no marital relationship developed amongst themselves and they are voluntarily inclined to withdraw relationship, their life should not be allowed to be deserted. When differences have occurred which cannot be compromised if at this stage they are separated, they can be able to enjoy their happy marital life elsewhere. Continuance of the litigation will cause mental and physical harassment to them unnecessarily when both of them are not inclined to continue with the relationship at all. Both the parties have withdrawn their allegations and counter allegations against each other.”

            In catena of cases relating to  matrimonial dispute, the Hon’ble Apex Court has observed that matrimonial disputes have to be decided by courts in a pragmatic manner keeping in view the ground realties. For this purpose a host of facts have to be taken into consideration and the most important being whether the marriage can be saved and the husband and wife can live together happily and maintain a proper atmosphere at home for the upbringing of their offspring. A. Agarwal v. Principal Judge, 2019 (2) AWC 1735.

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Annulment of Marriage – Concealment of Material Facts

On a careful reading of Clause (c) of Section 12(1) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, it will appear that both the parties, in case of adult, are obliged to divulge mutually and unequivocally the material fact or circumstances to each other before or at least at the time of marriage so much so that element of deception is ruled out. The words material facts or circumstances have not been defined or specified. It varies from one family to another, according to culture, ethos and social system in ages and situation. For example in a conservative family having attachment with puritan society in a marriage inevitable and unerring expectation is that both the bride and the groom must not have any record of prior marriage in any sense nor will have any marriage in any sense, not even any premarital affairs with other boy or girl (as the case may be). They cannot think of even marrying outside their caste and community, conversely , a family with liberal and cosmopolitan approach, thought, particularly in urban area will not mind in case of marriage even having knowledge of background of prior marriage or premarital affair with other counter sex outside their caste and community. In case of former, concealment of caste, community or background of prior marriage or premarital affairs before or at the time of marriage is obviously extremely material and it amounts to fraud in obtaining consent.

            In the case of Saswati Chattopadhyay v. Avik Chattopadhyay, (2011) 3 ICC 51, the husband was not informed about the earlier marriage at the time of negotiation or at the time of solemnization of the marriage. On inquiry, the husband came to know that there had been previous marriage of the appellant with one Sudip and it was also discovered that the earlier marriage was dissolved by consent. When the matter reached to the Family Court, it came to the conclusion that there has been suppression of the relevant fact with regard to the premarital status of the appellant and such relevant fact goes to the root of the matrimonial relationship. On an appeal, the Calcutta High court endorsed the view taken by the trial court and observed that premarital status of a party is a material fact which the other party must know before imparting consent for marriage. Pradeep Kumar Maheshwari v. Smt. Anita Agarwal, 2019 (2) AWC 1369.     

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Second Marriage – When Permissible during Pendency of Appeal

Section 15 of the Hindu Marriage Act provides that it shall be lawful for either party to marry again after dissolution of a marriage, if there is no right of appeal against the decree. A second marriage by either party shall be lawful only after dismissal of an appeal against the decree of divorce, if filed. If there is no right of appeal the decree of divorce remains final and that either party to the marriage is free to marry again. In case an appeal is presented, any marriage before dismissal of the appeal shall not be lawful. The object of the provision is to provide protection to the person who has filed an appeal against the decree of dissolution of marriage and to ensure that the said appeal is not frustrated. The purpose of Section 15 of the Act is to avert complications that would arise due to a second marriage during the pendency of the appeal, in case the decree of dissolution of marriage is reversed. The protection that is afforded by Section 15 is primarily to a person who is contesting the decree of divorce.

       In case during the pendency of the appeal, there is a settlement between the husband and wife, and after entering into a settlement, he does not intend to contest the decree of divorce, his intention can be made clear by filing an application for withdrawal. In that case, he does not have to wait till a formal order is passed in the appeal or otherwise his marriage is unlawful. Following the principles of purposive construction, it was held that the restriction placed on a second marriage in Section 15 of the Hindu Marriage Act, till the dismissal of an appeal, would not apply to a case where parties have settled and decided not to pursue the appeal. Anurag Mittal v. Mrs. Shaily Mishra Mittal, 2019 (132) ALR 725.

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Divorce Proceedings – Abuse of Process of Court

The intention of the legislation is at least to consider the rival contentions of the parties to matrimony and when there is sufficient material on record to show that the ingredients under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act are made out, and under the given circumstances there is cruelty, the Court should either make effort to settle the dispute or relationship has to be brought to a complete end. One party to the proceeding cannot be permitted to take advantage and cannot be permitted to abuse the process of law court and on the other hand simultaneously resorting to all the process of misbehaving with the husband and harassing him. Such type of attitude by the respondent (wife) cannot be permitted coupled with the fact that the order happens to be an ex parte order because the wife has deliberately avoided participating in the proceedings, despite the notice being served by the publication which would deemed to be served under law. Anirudh Guru Pratap Singh v. Harmit Kaur, 2017 (125) ALR 358.

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Cruelty – Levelling False Allegations

Cruelty can never be defined with exactitude. What is cruelty will depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case. In case the wife makes reckless, defamatory and false accusations against her husband, his family members and colleagues, which would definitely have the effect of lowering his reputation in the eyes of his peers. 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 leveling false accusations against the other spouse would be an act of cruelty. Raj Talreja v. Kavita Talreja, 2017 (123) ALR 835.

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