Tag Archives: Matrimonial Discord

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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Neither Actual Nor Presumed Intention to Hurt – Is A Necessary Element in Cruelty

The word “cruelty” and the kind or degree of “cruelty” necessary which may amount to a matrimonial offence has not been defined in the Act. What is cruel treatment is to a large extent a question of fact or a mixed question of law and fact and no dogmatic answer can be given to the variety of problems that arise before the court in these kinds of cases. The law has no standard by which to measure the nature and degree of cruel treatment that may satisfy the test. It may consist of a display of temperament, emotion or perversion whereby one gives vent to his or her feelings, without intending to injure the other. It need not consist of direct action against the other but may be misconduct indirectly affecting the other spouse even though it is not aimed at that spouse. It is necessary to weigh all the incidents and quarrels between the parties keeping in view the impact of the personality and conduct of one spouse upon the mind of the other. Cruelty may be inferred from the facts and matrimonial relations of the parties and interaction in their daily life disclosed by the evidence and inference on the said point can only be drawn after all the facts have been taken into consideration. Where there is proof of a deliberate course of conduct on the part of one, intended to hurt and humiliate the other spouse, and such a conduct is persisted cruelty can easily be inferred. Neither actual nor presumed intention to hurt the other spouse is a necessary element in cruelty. Sujata Uday Patil v. Uday Madhukar Patil, (2006) 13 SCC 272 

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Matrimonial Offences – Compounding of

Section 320 of the Code articulates public policy with regard to the compounding of offences. It catalogues the offences punishable under IPC which may be compounded by the parties without permission of the Court and the composition of certain offences with the permission of the court. The offences punishable under the special statutes are not covered by Section 320. When an offence is compoundable under Section 320, abatement of such offence or an attempt to commit such offence or where the accused is liable under Section 34 or 149 of the IPC can also be compounded in the same manner. A person who is under 18 years of age or is an idiot or a lunatic is not competent to contract compounding of offence but the same can be done on his behalf with the permission of the court. If a person is otherwise competent to compound an offence is dead, his legal representatives may also compound the offence with the permission of the court. Where the accused has been committed for trial or he has been convicted and the appeal is pending, composition can only be done with the leave of the court to which he has been committed or with the leave of the appeal court, as the case may be. The revisional court is also competent to allow any person to compound any offence who is competent to compound. The consequence of the composition of an offence is acquittal of the accused. Sub-section (9) of Section 320 mandates that no offence shall be compounded except as provided by this Section. Obviously, in view thereof the composition of an offence has to be in accord with Section 320 and in no other manner.  Compounding of offence, as has been given by Legislature in Section 320 Cr.P.C., has given first table, wherein few of offences are to be compounded, upon the consent and option of victims. In the second table, offences are compoundable on the option of victim with permission of Court concerned. Those offences are of grave nature, but with permission of Court, offence given in second table, may be compounded. Regarding those offences, which have not been compoundable, under provision of Legislature, this law has been developed by apex court that where union of family seems to be probable and the dispute is of matrimonial nature and they are not of heinous offence, then in the interest of justice, with a view to avoid children from any ruin, out of dispute in between parents, the offence punishable under Section 498-A I.P.C. or likewise, which are not of grave consequences and effect into society, may be quashed, in exercise of inherent jurisdiction of High Court acknowledged under Section 482 Cr.P.C. Under this provision of law, developed by Hon’ble Apex Court, quashing of proceeding for offence of dowry demand and cruelty etc., where compromise has been entered in between, are being made by High Court, though it is not within domain of trial court Magistrate or Sessions Judge. Munish Jain v. State of U.P., Application U/s 482 CrPC No. 5330 of 2012.

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Mental Cruelty – Can Cause More Grievous Injury

Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act is comprehensive enough to include cases of physical as well as mental cruelty. Modern view has been that mental cruelty can even cause more grievous injury and create in the mind of the injured spouse reasonable apprehension that it will be harmful or unsafe to live with the other party. The principle that cruelty may be inferred from the whole facts and matrimonial relations of the parties and interaction in their daily life disclosed by the evidence is of greater cogency in cases falling under the head of mental cruelty. Thus mental cruelty has to be ascertained from the facts. Though no uniform standard can be laid down for the guidance, yet certain instances of human behavior may be relevant in dealing the cases of ‘mental cruelty.’ Vinay Kumar Pathak v. Annapurna Awasthi, 2017 (125) ALR 453.

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DNA Test – Eminent Need

When there is apparent conflict between the right to privacy of a person not to submit himself forcibly to medical examination and duty of the court to reach the truth, the court must exercise its discretion only after balancing the interests of the parties and on due consideration whether for a just decision in the matter, DNA test is eminently needed. DNA test in a matter relating to paternity of a child should not be directed by the court as a matter of course or in a routine manner, whenever such a request is made. The court has to consider diverse aspects including presumption under Section 112 of the Evidence Act; pros and cons of such order and the test of “eminent need” whether it is not possible for the court to reach the truth without use of such test.” Ajay Singh v. Rama Bai, MP No. 1239 of 2020 (MP HC).

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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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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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Condonation of Cruelty – Matrimonial Wrongs

Condonation of cruelty is a benevolent and generous act of an offended spouse forgiving the misdeeds of the offending spouse and restoring the latter to the original company. In every condonation there is an implied condition that the excused spouse will not repeat or commit matrimonial wrongs in future. No wrong is permanently wiped out by condonation; but is only hibernated. An act of cruelty once condoned could certainly revive and give rise to a cause of action for dissolution of marriage, when the offending spouse exploits and takes unfair advantage of the generosity or the benevolence shown by the wronged spouse and takes to matrimonial misdeeds over again. This principle of law could be gathered from the decision of the Hon’ble Apex Court in Dr. N.G. Dastane v. Mrs. S. Dasane (1975) 2 SCC 326, wherein it was held that ‘but condonation of a matrimonial offence is not to be likened to a full Presidential pardon under Art.72 of the Constitution which, once granted, wipes out the guilt beyond the possibility of revival.’ Santhosh Kumar S. v. Jayasree Damodran, Mat. Appeal No. 547 of 2013. (Kerala)

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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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Custody of Child –Dispute in a Foreign Country

The state of law as approved in Nithya Anand Raghavan v. State¸(2017) 8 SCC 454 is that if a child is brought from a foreign country, being its native country to India, the Court in India may conduct (a) summary enquiry, or (b) an elaborate enquiry on the question of custody, if called for. In the case of a summary enquiry, the court may deem fit to order the return of the child to the country from where he/she has been removed unless such return is shown to be harmful to the child. Aximoatically thus, even in case of a summary enquiry, it is open to the court to decline the relief of return of the child to the country from where he/she has been removed irrespective of a pre-existing order of return of a child by a foreign court, in case it transpires that its repatriation would be harmful to it. On the other hand, in case of an elaborate enquiry, the court is obligated to examine the merits as to where the paramount interest and welfare of the child lay and take note of the pre-existing order of the foreign court for the return of the child as only one of the circumstances. As a corollary, in both the eventualities whether the enquiry is summary or elaborate, the court would be guided by the pre-dominant consideration of welfare of the child assuredly on an overall consideration on all attendant facts and circumstances.

In Surya Vadanan v. State of T.N., (2015) 5 SCC 450, two minor girls aged 10 years and 6 years respectively were British citizens by birth. Following intense matrimonial discords, the mother had left UK and had come to India with her two daughters. She also instituted a proceeding in the family court at Coimbatore seeking dissolution of marriage. It was held as under:

“However, if there is a pre-existing order of a foreign court of competent jurisdiction and the domestic court decides to conduct an elaborate enquiry, it must have special reasons to do so. An elaborate enquiry (as against a summary enquiry), it must have special reasons to do so. An elaborate enquiry should not be ordered as a matter of course. While deciding whether a summary or an elaborate enquiry should be conducted, the domestic court must take into consideration:

  • The nature and effect of the interim or interlocutory order passed by the foreign court.
  • The existence of special reasons for repatriating or not repatriating the child to the jurisdiction of the foreign court.
  • The repatriation of the child does not cause any moral or physical or social or cultural or psychological harm to the child, nor should it cause any legal harm to the parent with whom the child is in India. There are instances where the order of the foreign court may result in the arrest of the parent on his or her return to the foreign country. In such cases, the domestic court is also obliged to ensure the physical safety of the parent.
  • The alacrity with which the parent moves the foreign court concerned or the domestic court concerned, is also relevant. If the time gap is unusually large and is not reasonably explainable and the child has developed firm roots in India, the domestic court may be well advised to conduct an elaborate enquiry.”

Vis-à-vis the renditions in V. Ravi Chandran v. Union of India, (2010) 1 SCC 174, Shilpa Aggarwal v. Aviral Mittal, (2010) 1 SCC 591 and Arathi Bandi v. Bandi Jagadrakshaka Rao, (2013) 15 SCC 790, the Hon’ble Apex Court in Nithya Anand Raghavan v. State, (2017) 8 SCC 454, distinguished the facts involved therein from the one under its scrutiny. While underlining that the considerations which impelled the court to adopt its summary approach/jurisdiction in directing the return of the child to its native country, did not in any way discount or undermine the predominant criterion of welfare and interest of the child even to outweigh neuter or offset the principle of comity of courts, if disapproved the primacy sought to be accorded to the order of the foreign court on this issue of custody of minor in Surya Vadanan v. State of T.N., (2015) 5 SCC 450 though negated earlier in Dhanwanti Joshi v. Madhav Unde, (1998) 1 SCC 112 and reiterated that whether it was a case of summary enquiry or an elaborate enquiry, the paramount consideration was the interest and welfare of the child so much so that the pre-existing order of a foreign court could be taken note of only as one of the factors. The alacrity or the expedition with which the applicant/parent moves the foreign court or the domestic court concerned, for custody as a relevant factor was also not accepted to be of any definitive bearing. This notion of “first strike principle” was not subscribed to and further the extrapolation of that principle to the courts in India as predicated in Surya Vadanan v. State of T.N., (2015) 5 SCC 450 was also held to be in-apposite by adverting inter alia to Section 14 of the Guardian and Wards Act, 1890 and Section 10 of Civil Procedure Code.

In Nithya Anand Raghavan v. State, (2017) 8 SCC 454, while maintaining the custody of the child in favour of the mother in preference to the applicant father had required the mother to participate in the proceeding before the foreign court initiated by the respondent father therein. It was observed that the custody would remain with the respondent mother till it attained majority, leaving it at liberty then to choose its parent to reside with. Prateek Gupta v. Shilpi Gupta, (2018) 2 SCC 309.

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