Non-consummation of marriage during the honeymoon period does not amount to cruelty.


Court :
Bombay High Court

Brief :
The bench comprising of Justice Shri P.N. Deshmukh and Justice Smt. V.K. Tahilramani set aside a Family Court judgment dissolving the marriage between the parties, by a decree of divorce. The Court ruled that non-consummation of marriage during the honeymoon period does not amount to cruelty.

Citation :
Gurbux Singh Vs. Harminder Kaur; 2010 ALL SCR 2665 Suman Kapur Vs. Sudhir Kapur; 2009 (3) Mh.L.J. (SC) 153 Naveen Kohli Vs.Neelu Kohli; 2006(4) Mh.L.J. (SC) 242 Shobha Rani Vs. Madhukar Reddi; (1998) SCC 105

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Bombay  High  Court

          jdk

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY

 CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

FAMILY COURT APPEAL NO. 74 OF 2013

IN

PETITION NO. A-419 OF 2011

Mrs. Sanjana Sandip Pednekar ]

Age 29 years, Indian Inhabitant ]

Occ; Service, residing at Room No.4 ]

Building No.1, Bhoiwada Transit Camp]

Shankarbuva Ghadi Marg, ]

Bhoiwada, Parel, Mumbai-400 012 ]..Appellant

Vs.

Mr. Sandip Sitaram Pednekar ]

Occ: Service, residing at Room No.423]

Mayuresh Building, ]

Dattaram Lad Marg, Kalachowki, ]

Mumbai-400 033 ]..Respondent

....

Mr. Pankaj Shinde Advocate for the Appellant

Mr. Hemant Ghadigaonkar Advocate for the Respondent

....

CORAM : SMT.V.K.TAHILRAMANI AND

 SHRI. P.N.DESHMUKH, JJ.

               RESERVED ON  : FEB.,    13, 2014

               PRONOUNCED 

                              ON                    : MARCH   3, 2014

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JUDGMENT: [PER SMT. V.K.TAHILRAMANI, J.]:

1 Heard the learned counsel for the appellant and the 

learned counsel for the respondent. By consent of the parties, 

the appeal is taken up for final hearing and disposal. 

2 The  marriage of  the appellant  and the  respondent 

was solemnized on 8.12.2009 at  Mumbai  as per Hindu Vedic 

Rites.  It is the case of the respondent that the appellant who 

was his wife, treated him with cruelty, hence, the respondent 

filed a petition i.e. Petition No. A-419 of 2011 for divorce on the 

ground of cruelty.  The said petition came to be allowed by the 

Family  Court,  Mumbai  by  judgment  and  order  dated 

19.12.2012.  Being aggrieved by the said order, this appeal has 

been preferred. 

3 It is an admitted fact that the marriage between the 

appellant  and  the  respondent  took  place  on  8.12.2009  at 

Mumbai  as  per  the  Hindu  Vedic  Rites.   The  case  of  the 

appellant  is  that  the  respondent  was  the  daughter  of  his 

maternal  uncle.  There was love affair between both of them 

and  they  had  even  shared  physical  intimacy  prior  to  the 

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marriage.    

4 In  order  to  show  that  the  wife  treated  him  with 

cruelty,  the  respondent-husband  relied  on  the  following 

instances:

(i) After  the  marriage  both  the  appellant  and  the 

respondent  went  to  Mahabaleshwar  for  honeymoon for  four 

days and three nights.   According to the husband,  he made 

attempts to consummate the marriage but the wife refused to 

allow him to  touch her body.   Hence,  on coming back from 

honeymoon, he complained to the father of the wife about this 

fact.  

(ii) The second incident  relied  upon by the husband is 

that  on 24th,  25th and 26th January,  2010 the wife went  to 

Nashik for office work in spite of being advised not to do so as 

they were  newly married.  But the wife went out of Mumbai on 

her office work.   The further case of  the husband is that the 

wife used to wear shirt and pant while going to the office which 

was not liked by him.  She used to pick up quarrels with him 

and his parents and she never gave respect to his parents. 

(iii) Another incident relied upon by the husband to   show 

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that  he was treated cruelly by the wife, is that on 2.2.2010 his 

wife returned home from office at 10.00 p.m.   The respondent 

tried to convince the wife to behave in a proper and dutiful  

manner.   Thereupon,  she picked up quarrel  and pushed the 

husband and started to collect  her clothes and belongings in 

order to go to her parents house.   At that time, the husband 

and his parents convinced her and she stayed the night.   On 

the next day, the husband and his parents called her parents 

and her parents  convinced her.   Thereafter  on 8.2.2010 the 

wife of her own accord, left the matrimonial  home along with 

her parents.   This is sum and substance of the allegations of 

the husband on the point of cruelty.      

5 In  order  to  prove  the  cruelty,  the  husband  has 

examined himself and the wife has also examined herself.  No 

other witnesses were examined by the parties. 

6 The learned counsel for the appellant pointed out that 

the allegations made by the husband regarding picking up  of 

quarrels and not giving respect to his parents, are found to be 

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vague  and  no  material  particulars  have  been  given  by  the 

respondent in relation to these allegations.  The main ground 

to prove cruelty which has been stated by the husband, is that 

soon  after  marriage  when  they  went  for  honeymoon  to 

Mahabaleshwar  for  four  days  and  three  nights,  he  made 

attempts to consummate the marriage but the wife refused to 

allow him to touch her.   According to the husband,  this non-

consummation of marriage at the time of honeymoon caused 

him  tremendous  cruelty.   It  was  submitted  by  the  learned 

counsel for the husband that failure to comply with one of the 

essential  obligations  of  the  marital  life  by  a  spouse,  would 

amount  to  subjecting the other  to  cruelty.   It  is  one of  the 

essential and principal obligations on the part of the spouse to 

satisfy the sexual  urge of the other,  which is natural  instinct. 

Married life without a sexual life will be a curse.  Normal sexual 

life  cannot  be  deserted  from a  happy  marital  life.   It  was 

observed by Lord Denning in Kalest Sky Vs. Kalest Sky, 1950 

(2) All ER 398: "that willful  and unjustifiable refusal  of sexual 

intercourse  is  destructive  of  marriage,  more  destructive, 

perhaps, than anything else.  Just as normal sexual intercourse 

is  the  normal  bond  of  marriage,  so  the  willful  refusal  of  it 

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causes a marriage to disintegrate.   It  gives rise to irritability 

and discord, to nervousness and manifestations of temper, and 

hence, to the break down of marriage.  

7 The learned counsel for the husband contended that 

refusal  to have sexual  intercourse clearly amounts to cruelty. 

He  placed reliance upon the decision of the Supreme Court in 

the case of  Gurbux Singh Vs. Harminder Kaur; 2010 ALL 

SCR 2665 to support his contention.  He pointed out that in 

paragraph  10  of  the  judgment,  it  is  held  that  "unilateral 

decision of refusal to have intercourse for considerable period 

without  there being any physical  incapacity  or  valid  reason, 

may amount to mental cruelty". 

8 The learned counsel for the appellant submitted that 

the evidence of  the wife clearly shows that  at  that  time her 

menstrual  period was going on and it  is because of this that 

she refused to allow the husband to consummate the marriage. 

The learned counsel for the appellant has also pointed out that 

except  for  the  period  of  four  days  that  they  had  gone  to 

Mahabaleshwar,  there is  no allegation made by the husband 

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that the wife thereafter also continued to refuse to have sexual 

intercourse.  On going through the evidence, we find this is so. 

Thus, just on the basis of the evidence of the respondent that 

during 3 to 4 days that they were in Mahabaleshwar the wife 

did not allow him to have sexual intercourse, cannot be said to 

be such as to cause mental or physical cruelty to the husband. 

It is also to be noted that the wife has given a valid explanation 

for refusal to have sexual intercourse during this period i.e. her 

menstrual cycle was going on.  

9 In the  case of  Suman Kapur  Vs.  Sudhir  Kapur; 

2009  (3)  Mh.L.J.  (SC)  153,  the  Supreme  Court,  after 

considering  several  judgments  has  observed  that  "if  it  is 

mental cruelty, the enquiry must begin as to the nature of the 

cruel treatment and then as to the impact of such treatment on 

the mind of the other spouse.  Whether it caused reasonable 

apprehension that it will be harmful or injurious for him to live 

with the respondent ultimately is a matter of inference to be 

drawn by taking into  account  the nature of  conduct  and its 

effect  on the complaining spouse.   Whether  one spouse has 

been guilty of cruelty to other is essentially a question of fact 

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and previously  decided cases have little,  if  any,  value.   The 

Court  is  expected  to  bear  in  mind the physical  and mental 

condition  of  the  parties  as  well  as  their  social  status,  and 

should consider the impact of the personality and conduct of 

one spouse on the mind of the other weighing all incidents and 

quarrels between the spouses from that point of view." 

10 The Supreme Court in the case of Naveen Kohli Vs. 

Neelu Kohli; 2006(4) Mh.L.J. (SC) 242 while dealing with an 

appeal arising from a matrimonial petition filed by the husband 

seeking  a  decree  of  divorce  on  the  ground  of  cruelty, has 

observed that "the foundation of a sound marriage is tolerance, 

adjustment  and respecting one another.   Tolerance to  each 

other's fault to a certain bearable extent has to be inherent in 

every marriage, Petty quibbles,  trifling differences should not 

be exaggerated and magnified to destroy what is said to have 

been made in heaven.  All quarrels must be weighed from that 

point of view in determining what constitutes cruelty in each 

particular case and as noted above, always keeping in view the 

physical  and mental  conditions of the parties,  their character 

and social status.  A too technical and hypersensitive approach 

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would  be  counter  productive  to  the  institution  of  marriage. 

The Courts do not have to deal with ideal husbands and ideal 

wives.  It has to deal with particular man and woman before it." 

In  the  present  case,  none  of  the  incidents  of  the  alleged 

conduct of the respondent could be termed as intolerable.

11 Besides the allegations that the wife refused to have 

sexual intercourse during 3 to 4 days period during which  they 

had  gone  to  Mahabaleshwar  for  honeymoon,  husband  has 

relied on his evidence that the wife used to pick up quarrel with 

him and his parents and she never gave respect to his parents. 

As  far  as  these  allegations  are  concerned,  no  material 

particulars have been stated by the respondent and only vague 

and general allegations have been made by him.  These, in our 

opinion,  are not  sufficient  to prove that the wife treated him 

with cruelty. 

12 The husband has tried to contend that on 24th, 25th 

and 26th January, 2010 his wife went to Nashik for office work 

despite the fact that he had advised her not to to do so as they 

were   newly  married.   The  marriage  had  taken  place  on 

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8.12.2009.  This means that after 1½  month of the marriage, 

the wife had gone to Nashik for office work.  It is an admitted 

fact  that  the  wife  was  working  and in  such  case,  if  it  was 

necessary for her to go on office work,  no fault can be found 

with her for going to Nashik.   Hence, going to Nashik on office 

work cannot be termed as an act of cruelty.  

13 Even  if  it  is  assumed  that  all  the  aforementioned 

incidents did occur in the manner as stated by the respondent, 

still in our opinion, the conduct of the appellant was not of such 

a  character  and  gravity  so  as  to  give  rise to  a  reasonable 

apprehension  in  the  mind of  the  respondent  that  it  will  be 

harmful  or  injurious  for  him to live  with  her  or  it  would  be 

impossible for them to live together without mental  agony or 

torture.  In the other words, the respondent's conduct was not 

such that no reasonable person would tolerate it.  Parties to the 

marriage, tying nuptial  knot, are supposed to bring about the 

union  of  two  souls.   It  creates  a  new  relationship  of  love, 

affection, care and concern between the husband and wife and 

that  it  brings  two  families  together.   Such  ties  cannot  be 

allowed to be severed on the grounds/incidents/conduct which 

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are ordinary wear and tear of matrimonial  life.   None of the 

aforementioned incidents or conduct of the wife, in our opinion, 

could be termed as "grave and weighty" to be treated as the 

cause  for  cruelty.   It  is  true  that  the  word "cruelty"  is  not 

defined and, therefore, it is not possible to say as to when the 

conduct of other spouse constitutes cruelty, however, the door 

of  cruelty  cannot  be opened so wide  otherwise divorce will 

have  to  be  granted  in  every  case  of  incompatibility  of 

temperament.  That was not the intention of Legislature when 

the ground of cruelty was made available for seeking a decree 

of divorce.  

14 Thereafter,  the case of  the  respondent  is  that  the 

appellant  used to  wear  shirt  and pant  while  going to office 

which was not liked by him.  The appellant and the respondent 

are both educated persons.  Both are working.  It is not his case 

that she used to wear shirt and pant every day while going to 

office.  Looking to the strata of the society from which they are 

coming,  assuming that  the wife used to wear  shirt  and pant 

while  going to office on few occasions,  it  would  not  be such 

conduct  on the part  of  the wife as  to grant  divorce on the 

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ground of cruelty. 

15 The last incident on which reliance has been placed 

by the husband is  that  the wife treated him with  cruelty  on 

2.2.2010 when she returned home from office at  10.00 p.m. 

The  respondent  tried  to  convince  the  wife  to  behave  in  a 

proper and dutiful manner.  Thereupon, she picked up quarrel 

and pushed the husband and started to collect her clothes and 

belongings in order to go to her parents house.  As far as this 

incident  is  concerned,  it  is  noticed that  the husband and his 

parents  convinced her and she did not  leave the house that 

night.  On the next day, the husband and his parents called her 

parents and they convinced her and she was convinced.      

16 In the case of  Shobha Rani Vs. Madhukar Reddi; 

(1998)  SCC 105,  the  Supreme  Court  had  an occasion to 

examine the concept  of  cruelty.   In this  case,  the Supreme 

Court has interpreted the word "cruelty".  The "cruelty" which 

has not been defined in the Act, though it has been specifically 

used  in  Section  13(1)(ia)  of  the  Act,  the  Supreme  Court 

observed that "the cruelty is a course of conduct of one which 

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is adversely affecting the other.  The cruelty may be mental or 

physical,  intentional  or unintentional.   If  it  is  physical,  it  is a 

question of fact and degree.  If it is mental, the enquiry must 

begin as to the nature of the cruel treatment and then as to the 

impact of such treatment on the mind of the spouse.  Whether 

it caused reasonable apprehension that it would be harmful or 

injurious  to  live  with  the  other,  ultimately,  is  a  matter  of 

inference to be drawn by taking into account the nature of the 

conduct and its effect on the complaining spouse.  There may, 

however,  be cases where the conduct  complained of  itself is 

bad enough and per se unlawful or illegal.  Then the impact or 

the injurious effect on the other spouse need not be enquired 

into or considered.  In such case, the cruelty will be established 

if  the conduct  itself  is  proved or  admitted.   The absence of 

intention should  not  make any difference in  the case,  if  by 

ordinary sense in human affairs,  the act complained of could 

otherwise be regarded as cruelty.  Intention is not a necessary 

element in cruelty.  The relief to the party cannot be denied on 

the  ground  that  there  has  been  no  deliberate  or  willful  ill-

treatment."        

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17 The married life should be assessed as a whole and a 

few isolated instances over certain period will  not amount  to 

cruelty.  The ill-conduct must be preceded for a fairly lengthy 

period where the relationship  has  deteriorated  to  an extent 

that because of the acts and behaviour of a spouse, one party 

finds it extremely difficult to live with the other party no longer 

may amount to mental cruelty.  Mere trivial irritations, quarrels, 

normal wear and tear of married life which happens in day to 

day  life  in  all  families  would  not  be  adequate  for  grant  of 

divorce on the ground of  cruelty.   Only  sustained unjustified 

and reprehensible conduct affecting physical and mental health 

of the other spouse may lead to mental cruelty.   There is no 

evidence to that effect in the present case. 

18 We have already verified all the allegations made in 

the petition, written statement as well as the evidence of both 

the parties.  On going through the same, we are satisfied that 

on  the  basis  of  such  instances,  the  marriage  cannot  be 

dissolved.   In this view of the matter,   the appeal  is allowed. 

The  judgment  and  order   dated  19.12.2012  passed  by  the 

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Bombay  High  Court

Family  Court  No.2,  Mumbai  in  Petition  No.  A-419  of  2011 

thereby  dissolving  the  marriage  between  the  parties,  by  a 

decree of divorce, is set aside.  

19 No order as to costs.

20 Decree be drawn up accordingly.

[SHRI. P.N.DESHMUKH, J.]            [SMT. V.K.TAHILRAMANI, J.]

kandarkar

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Vineet Kumar
on 10 March 2014
Published in Family Law
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