Bombay High Court held that if a husband is filing a divorce petition, it would be no justification for the wife to file criminal cases as a rebound, making wild allegations which she is unable to prove. Division Bench comprising of Justices A.I.S. Cheema and R.M. Borde said that the husband is entitled to get divorce from his wife who subjected him and his family to cruelty by lining up false cases against him and his family.
Case (Order Dated January 2016)
- Parties got married in November 2002
- According to the petitioner husband, respondent wife deserted him on December 30, 2003
- However, as per the wife, she was beaten and thrown out of the home on December 4, 2003
- Husband filed for divorce on February 03, 2004 and the wife received summons for the same on February 09, 2004
- Immediately upon receiving the summons, the wife filed FIRs against the husband and his family
- Citing these unpleasant developments as a counter from the woman, husband then withdrew his petition
- The husband later again filed for divorce on September 27, 2006, which was dismissed by family court on March 27, 2008
- According to the petitioner, this was an arranged marriage where the engagement took place in October 2002
- However, strangely, the parents of the girls were unhappy, because they felt their daughter was not offered proper gift by the boy and his family
- While the girl’s parents wanted to back off from this alliance, the girl and her maternal uncle were ready to go ahead and thus the marriage took place at a temple in Aurangabad (attended only by girl’s uncle and aunt)
- Later the same evening, the girl’s parents came to her newly married home and had a big quarrel
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- For a few days, things were fine, but then the girl started picking up small fights with the husband
- She left no chance to demean and humiliate him in front of his family and friends
- She also started accusing him of extra marital affairs even if he spoke to any girl; she did not even spare him of having an affair with his own cousin
- On one occasion when a female friend of the husband called from Mumbai, the wife left home alleging that he was involved with that girl
- According to the man, his wife was instigated by none other but her parents and she had a habit of disclosing every detail of her private life with friends and outsiders
- The Petitioner filed application in the first Petition claiming that the Respondent has now filed criminal complaint and wanted to withdraw the Petition to file fresh divorce Petition after dismissal of the criminal case and so with permission, liberty may be given
- The Respondent took time to reply but did not file reply and then the Judge of the Family Court, without recording grant of permission, passed order dismissing the Petition for want of prosecution
- Subsequently, a new petition was filed by husband in 2006, wherein, the first twelve paragraphs were similar to his earlier claims in the previous application
- The Court made this observation while setting aside a Family Court order which had dismissed the Husband’s petition for divorce by rejecting the ground of cruelty
- In its judgment, the Family Court had justified the filing of criminal case by the wife under Section 498A IPC on the reasoning that it was the husband who first filed divorce
- The Bombay High Court observed that various criminal cases were filed by the wife against her husband and family which got dismissed
Referring to Apex Court ruling in K. Srinivas vs. K. Sunita, the Court said that wife filing such wild and unfounded cases amounts to cruelty towards husband. The Bench observed,
When the family is facing such criminal prosecution, and they had to face arrest and the wife is making allegations against the character of the husband, mental cruelty is clearly established.
Groundless and unsupported doubts amounts to cruelty
In her complaint to Women and Child Welfare Officer, the wife had prayed that her husband should be restrained from letting other women come to the building than his mother and two sisters and no such other woman should be allowed to stay there as paying guest or tenant or to come as friend. The Court said:
Such psyche of groundless, unsupported doubts by one spouse as seen in present matter (of seeking to keep out all women (other than mother and sisters) from the house and baseless suit to restrain husband from re-marrying) cast aspersions on character of the other spouse amounting to cruelty.
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Second divorce petition maintainable after first one was withdrawn
In this case, the husband had filed a divorce petition in 2004, which was withdrawn and no permission was obtained under Order 23 Rule 1 of Code of Civil Procedure. Relying on Apex Court ruling in N.R. Narayan Swamy vs. B. Francis Jagan, the Court said that in this subsequent case, although the foundational facts regarding relationship of the parties remain the same, the present proceedings could not be said to be barred as although they refer initially to earlier incidents, they are based on events which took place subsequent to the filing of the earlier proceeding which was sought to be withdrawn in view of the subsequent developments. The court concluded,
When the relationship continues between the couple, there could be recurring incidents giving rise to fresh causes of actions and claim for relief which would be subject matter for the subsequent action.
The court further added,
She appears to have resorted to all means to ensure that the Petitioner or his family members do not get bail and should remain in jail. She made allegations of dowry demand and assault, which have not been proved. Considering the allegations in the F.I.R. and even those made to the Women and Child Welfare Officers, as well as allegations made to the JMFC in Domestic Violence case, the acts were in the nature of inflicting mental cruelty to the Petitioner and his family members.
The Petitioner and one of his brother had to undergo the agony of getting arrested and later on being released on bail. Brother of Petitioner admittedly living separate has been called a “parasite” by Respondent in this Petition and was dragged in criminal case. They had to face the criminal prosecution, which appears to have been motivated.
Despited all of the above, the Bombay High Court has awarded a lumpsum alimony to the woman as one time settlement. The court stated,
It is the responsibility as husband to assist the wife in settling, and thus it would be reasonable to direct the Petitioner to deposit an amount of Rs.25,00,000/- (Rupees Twenty -Five Lakhs) in the Family Court as permanent alimony payable to the Respondent.