The division bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Asha Menon was hearing the appellant-husband being aggrieved by the judgement and decree dated 30.08.2019 of the Family Court, Dwarka, that dismissed his petition seeking dissolution of his marriage with the respondent No.1 under Section 13(1) (i) and (ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The Delhi High Court observed,
Such conduct of the respondent-wife of being interested in remaining in her room or not showing initiative in doing household work can by no stretch of imagination be described as cruel behaviour and that too upon the appellant/husband.
Allegations of the Husband:
The appellant/husband was married with the respondent on in November 2012 in accordance with the Hindu rites and ceremonies. Though the marriage was duly consummated, no child was born to the parties. In the grounds taken for seeking dissolution of marriage, it was averred by the husband that since the beginning of the marriage, the attitude of the wife was not positive as she declined to consummate the marriage.
Wife disclosed that she was having a love affair with the brother of her brother-in-law, and whom she had desired to marry. In March 2013, during the festival of Holi, wife left her matrimonial home with all jewellery with her brother and husband was informed to read the letter she left for him. In the letter, wife said she wanted to marry her lover and did not wish to return.
However, in April 2013, wife’s brother brought her back to her matrimonial home when husband refused to take her back. Husband then filed for divorce
Allegations of the Wife
Woman admitted that she had disclosed about her previous affair but claimed that it was only after long discussions with the husband and his family members that they had agreed to the marriage. It was her allegation that despite expenditure of about Rs 13 lakhs on her marriage, the husband and his family members were dissatisfied and after just a month they had started harassing and torturing her for dowry and pressurised her to bring a luxury car worth Rs 10 lakhs which she could not fulfil.
She further claimed that it was her sister-in-law who had given her a piece of paper on which she was compelled to write whatever the husband’s family members forced her to write and sign and on threat to her life, she wrote the letter that was being relied upon by the husband. She also alleged that in March 2013, an actual attempt was also made to kill her by pressing her neck and she was saved only because neighbours had gathered on hearing her cries.
Point to Note: Allegations mentioned by wife were only made after husband filed for divorce.
Observations of High Court
The Court noted,
Cruelty is no doubt, not measurable as a tangible commodity.
However, the court also acknowledged that the standard for determining as to whether a particular conduct amounts to cruelty or only to normal wear and tear of marriage, has been the subject matter of several decisions of the Supreme Court.
With regard to her disinclination initially for a physical relationship with the appellant/husband, the bench noted that he himself admits that the marriage had been consummated and except for this one occasion, there were no repeated instances cited of refusal on the part of the wife to have any sexual interaction with the husband. The court asserted,
Therefore, this ground too is not available to the appellant/husband to claim ‘cruelty.
From the affidavit filed by the husband, the bench opined that it was difficult to discern as to what conduct of the wife impacted him as being cruel. The judgment narrates that he accused the wife of having been
- ‘Rude’ and of a ‘cruel behaviour’ immediately after the marriage
- Of her picking up quarrels with every family member on trivial matters
- Of her refusal to have any physical relations with him immediately after the marriage
- Of locking herself in the room to be requested several times to come and participate in the muh dikhai ceremony
- Of looking nervous and unhappy at the marriage reception
- Of keeping herself to her room, showing disinclination to do any household work or cook food
The court said,
These were the ‘cruel acts’ attributed to the wife. To our mind, none of these acts, if at all were committed by the husband, could tantamount to ‘cruel’ conduct.
The bench proceeded to observe that a new bride would be hesitant in her new surroundings in the matrimonial home, and that it is always for the husband’s family to make the new bride feel at home and accepted as a family member.
Court On Adultery By Wife
As regards the most serious allegation made by the husband that the wife was leading an adulterous life, the bench reflected that what he did file by way of proof were certain documents which reveal that the wife and the brother of her brother-in-law (also a respondent) had filed an application before the SDM Hapur in December 2011, expressing their intent to get married. However, admittedly, that marriage was not conducted on account of the objections raised by the brothers of the two respondents.
The marriage between the husband and the wife took place almost a year later. The bench recorded,
Though the appellant/husband claimed that he was not told about the previous affair of the respondents, the respondent No.l/wife during her cross-examination in response to a query, stated unequivocally that she had disclosed everything to the appellant/husband prior to her marriage with him.
She denied the suggestion that prior to this marriage, she had entered into a live-in relationship with the lover. No witnesses were examined by the husband to substantiate this allegation, which was introduced for the first time during the cross-examination of the wife.
Moreover, the bench was of the view that adultery could have been committed only after the marriage between the husband and the wife had been solemnised and the allegation of adultery on the ground that before the marriage of the parties, the respondents had stayed together, is completely meaningless. The bench held,
It is thus clear that the learned Family Court had arrived at the right conclusion including observing that the accusations of adultery heaped by the husband on the wife are without any proof whatsoever of the respondents living in adultery and having an illicit relationship either before or post the marriage of the parties and that the wife had treated the husband with any cruelty.
The Court also appreciated that in his affidavit, without of course, giving any specific dates, the husband had claimed that he had “reconciled” with the wife and had hoped for a “bright future” and “had saved his matrimonial life”. By dismissing the appeal, High Court concluded,
In other words, whatever “misconduct” that the appellant/husband had noticed and alleged, as delineated hereinabove, stood condoned by him, leaving no scope for him to have filed the petition before the court for dissolution of marriage between the parties either on the grounds of cruelty or adultery.
Alleged False Criminal Cases
The husband has also claimed that by filing a false and frivolous complaint against him and his family members at PS Khurja Junction, District Bulandshahar, UP and having remained in jail for some days, he had been subjected to cruelty. However, he was not able to counter the testimony of the wife in her affidavit, that an attempt on her life had been made and that she had been thrown by the husband himself near her parental village at about 4:00 am on the next day.
The court held that prima facie, the FIR cannot be termed as false, frivolous or a vague one, as the trial is still going on. They said,
It is not as if any court of law has come to a conclusion that the FIR so lodged by the wife was a false one. Therefore, this plea of the appellant/husband also falls flat.
- If wife has alleged that her in-laws wanted to murder her, why is keen to live in the same matrimonial home again?
- The divorce battle between the couple has been ongoing since 2013 (more than 7 years)
- By rejecting divorce, can any court force either spouses to co-habit again together?
- Such orders after nearly a decade are meaningless as there has been enough bitterness between the families and the chances of a happy reunion is almost NIL
- It is time our government and the judiciary start looking at divorce battles practically rather than merely following the rule book
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