Tag Archives: Hindu Marriage Act 1955

Mental Cruelty – Damaging the reputation of the Spouse

The respondent (wife) had made several defamatory complaints to the appellant’s (Husband) superiors in the army for which, a court of inquiry was held by the Army Authorities against the appellant. Primarily for those, the appellant’s career progress got affected. The Respondent was also making complaints to other authorities, such as, the State Commission for Women and has posted defamatory materials on other platforms. The net outcome of above is that the appellant’s career and reputation had suffered.

        When the appellant has suffered adverse consequences in his life and career on account of the allegations made by the respondent, the legal consequences must follow and those cannot be prevented only because, no court has determined that the allegations were false.

The allegations leveled by a highly educated spouse which have the propensity to irreparably damage the character and reputation of the other spouse and when the reputation of the spouse is sullied amongst his colleagues, his superiors and the society at large, it would be difficult to expect condonation of such conduct by the affected party.  

       The explanation of the wife that she made those complaints in order to protect the matrimonial ties would not justify the persistent effort made by her to undermine the dignity and reputation of her husband. In circumstances like this, the wronged party cannot be expected to continue with the matrimonial relationship and there is enough justification for him to seek separation. Joydeep Majumdar v. Bharti Jaiswal Majumdar, Civil Appeal Nos. 3786-3787 of 2020 decided on 26.02.2021

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Section 13-B of Hindu Marriage Act – Object of

The object of the provision is to enable the parties to dissolve a marriage by consent if the marriage has irretrievably broken down and to enable them to rehabilitate them as per available options. The amendment was inspired by the thought that forcible perpetuation of status of matrimony between unwilling partners did not serve any purpose. The object of the cooling off period is a safeguard against a hasty decision if there was otherwise possibility of differences being reconciled. The object is not to perpetuate a purposeless marriage or to prolong the agony of the parties when there is no chance of reconciliation. Though every effort has to be made to save a marriage, if there are no chances of reunion and there are chances of fresh rehabilitation, the court should not be powerless in enabling the parties to have a better opinion. Prabhat Singh v. Smt. Sweta Yadav, 2020 (3) AWC 2556.

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Right to Residence in a Shared Household

As regards Section 17(1) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, the wife is only entitled to claim a right to residence in a shared household and a ‘shared household’ would only mean the house belonging to or taken on rent by the husband, or the house which belongs to the joint family of which the husband is a member. The property belonging to the mother of the husband cannot be called a ‘shared household’ in as much as it is not owned by the husband or taken on rent by him. Smt. Sujata Gandhi v. S.B. Gandhi, 2020 (4) AWC 3646.

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Wife Living In Adultery – Not Entitled to Maintenance

 A wife is not entitled to any Maintenance Allowance from her husband if she is living in adultery or if she has refused to live with her husband without any sufficient reason or if they are living separately by mutual consent. Thus, all the circumstances contemplated by sub-section (4) of section 125, Cr. P.C. presuppose the existence of matrimonial relations. The provision would be applicable where the marriage between the parties subsists and not where it has come to an end. Taking the three circumstances individually, it will be noticed that the first circumstance on account of which a wife is not entitled to claim Maintenance Allowance from her husband is that she is living in adultery. Now, adultery is the sexual intercourse of two persons, either of whom is married to a third person. This clearly supposes the subsistence of marriage between the husband and wife and if during the subsistence of marriage, the wife lives in adultery, she cannot claim Maintenance Allowance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Ashwani K. Lal v. Deepa Kumari Chauhan, Cr.MMO No. 358 of 2016, decided on October 31, 2019

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Making a Daughter in Law Do Domestic Work – Is Not Unusual

No family is totally devoid of clashes among members constituting it. It is common for elders to scold and sometimes abuse youngsters. Making a daughter in law to do the house hold/domestic work is also not something unusual.

In Narendra v. K. Meena, 2016 (5) KHC 180, it was held as under: “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 for that and in this case, we do not find any justifiable reason, except monetary consideration of the respondent wife. In our opinion, normally, no husband would tolerate this and no son would like to be separated from his old parents and other family members, who are also dependent upon his income. The persistent effort of the respondent wife to constrain the appellant to be separated from the family would be torturous for the husband and in our opinion, the trial court was right when it came to be conclusion that this constitutes an act of ‘cruelty’.” Ranjith P.C. V. Asha Nair P., Mat. Appl. No. 137 of 2014, decided on May 20, 2020

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‘Capable of Earning’ and ‘Actual Earning’ – Difference Between

In Arun Vats v. Pallavi Sharma, reported as 2019 SCC OnLine Del 11817 and Niharika Yadav v. Manish Kumar Yadav in Crl. Rev. Petition 755/201, decided on 18.12.2019 where, while relying upon the decision rendered in the case of Shalija v. Khobbana reported as (2018) 12 SCC 199, it was held that ‘capable of earning’ and ‘actual earning’ are entirely two different things. Merely because the wife is ‘capable of earning’ is not a sufficient reason to deny her the maintenance. It was also stated that the petitioner has qualified CTET test and is now more qualified to earn. In Swapan Kumar Banerjee v. The State of West Bengal, reported as 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1263, the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed as follows:“The next issue raised was that the wife being a qualified architect from a reputed university i.e. Jadavpur University, Calcutta would be presumed to have sufficient income. It is pertinent to mention that as far as the husband is concerned, his income through taxable returns has been brought on record which shows that he was earning a substantial amount of Rs. 13,16,585/- per year and on that basis Rs. 10,000/- per month has been awarded as monthly maintenance to the wife. No evidence has been led to show what is the income of the wife or where the wife is working. It was for the husband to lead such evidence. In the absence of any such evidence no presumption can be raised that the wife is earning sufficient amount to support herself.”  Anita v. Amit, Crl. Rev. P. 515/2018, decided on 24.02.2020

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Character Assassination of Wife – Amounts to Mental Cruelty

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Vijaykumar Ramchandra Bhate v. Neela Vijaykumar Bhate, (2003) 6 SCC 334,  had the occasion to consider the question as to whether the averments, accusations and character assassination of the wife by the appellant husband in the written statement constitutes mental cruelty for sustaining the claim for divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Act. The Hon’ble Court has observed that the position of law in that regard has come to be well settled and declare that leveling disgusting accusations of unchastity and indecent familiarity with the person outside wedlock and allegations of extra marital relationship is a grave assault on the character, honour, reputation, status as well as the health of the wife. Such allegations and aspersions made in the written statement or suggested in the course of examination and by way of cross-examination would amount to worst form of insult and cruelty, sufficient by itself to substantiate cruelty in law, warranting the claim of the wife being allowed. Such unfounded accusations and character assassinations causes mental pain, agony and suffering amounting to the reformulated concept of cruelty in matrimonial law causing profound and lasting disruption and causes the wife to feel deeply hurt and reasonably apprehend that it would be dangerous for her to live with a husband who was taunting her like that and rendered the maintenance of matrimonial life impossible. Debashis Choudhury v. Nibedita Choudhury, Mat. App. 22 of 2018 decided on 24.09.2019.

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Alteration of Order – In View of Changed Circumstances

Sub-Section 2 of Section 25 of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act provides that the aggrieved person or the respondent may approach before the Magistrate by filing an application for alteration, modification or revocation of any order made under this Act. If any such application is filed before the Magistrate praying for alteration, modification or revocation of any order made under this Act either by the aggrieved person or by the respondent then the Magistrate may for reasons to be recorded in writing pass order, as he may deem appropriate. Sub-Section 2 of Section 25 of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act has conferred right both on the aggrieved person and the respondent to approach before the Magistrate for alteration, modification or revocation of any order made under this Act. Sub-Section 1 of Section 25 is restricted only to the protection orders under Section 18 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act. The recourse under Sub-Section 1 of Section 25 can be availed of only by the aggrieved person not by the respondent. Whereas, Sub-Section 2 of Section 25 deals with the alteration, modification and revocation of any order made under the Act and recourse can be taken both by the aggrieved person and the respondent. The scope of application of Sub-Section 2 of Section 25 is much wider than Sub-Section 1 of Section 25. In view of the provision as contained in Sub-Section 2 of Section 25, it can be presumed that the order passed under the Act is not perpetual in nature and the order passed under this Act may be altered, modified or revoked, if there is a change in the circumstances and for that purpose the aggrieved person or the respondent may approach before the Magistrate under the Act. If such prayer is made the Magistrate may for reasons to be recorded in writing pass such order, as he may deem appropriate. Krishnendu Das Thakur v. State of West Bengal, (2019) 3 HLR 114.

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In-Laws Home – Cannot Be A ‘Shared Household’

In Shumita Didi Sandhu v. Sanjay Singh Sandhu, (2010) 174 DLT 79 (DB), the ld. Division Bench was considering a judgment of the Single Judge which had followed S.R. Batra v. Taruna Batra, (2007) 3 SCC 169 and held that the in-laws home cannot be a ‘shared household’ or the ‘matrimonial home’ and hence the daughter in law has no legal right to stay in the house belonging to her parents in law. The ld. Division then approved the view of the Single Judge and followed S.R. Batra v. Taruna Batra, (2007) 3 SCC 169. It concluded that the right of residence of the wife does not mean the right to reside in a particular property but would mean the right to reside in a commensurate property. The right of residence is not the same thing as a right to reside in a particular property which the appellant refers to as her ‘matrimonial home’. The Single Judge’s judgment was upheld and it was observed that the learned single Judge had amply protected the plaintiff by directing that she would not be evicted from the premises in question without following the due process of law. Vinay Varma v. Kanika Pasricha, (2020) 1 DMC 180.

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Provisions Under Maintenance of Parents and Senior Citizens Act and Domestic Violence Act

Some broad guidelines as set out below, can be followed by Courts in order to strike a balance between the PSC Act and the DV Act:

1. The court/tribunal has to first ascertain the nature of the relationship between the parties and the son’s/daughter’s family.

2. If the case involves eviction of a daughter in law, the court has to also ascertain whether the daughter-in-law was living as part of a joint family.

3. If the relationship is acrimonious, then the parents ought to be permitted to seek eviction of the son/daughter-in-law or daughter/son-in-law from their premises. In such circumstances, the obligation of the husband to maintain the wife would continue in terms of the principles under the DV Act.

4. If the relationship between the parents and the son are peaceful or if the parents are seen colluding with their son, then, an obligation to maintain and to provide for the shelter for the daughter-in-law would remain both upon the in-laws and the husband especially if they were living as part of a joint family. In such a situation, while parents would be entitled to seek eviction of the daughter-in-law from their property, an alternative reasonable accommodation would have to be provided to her.

5. In case the son or his family is ill-treating the parents then the parents would be entitled to seek unconditional eviction from their property so that they can live a peaceful life and also put the property to use for their generating income and for their own expenses for daily living.

6. If the son has abandoned both the parents and his own wife/children, then if the son’s family was living as part of a joint family prior to the breakdown of relationships, the parents would be entitled to seek possession from their daughter-in-law, however, for a reasonable period they would have to provide some shelter to the daughter-in-law during which time she is able to seek her remedies against her husband. Vinay Varma v. Kanika Pasricha, (2020) 1 DMC 180.

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