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Vishal Indurkhya (Professional)     05 April 2011

Counter Claim of Divorce u/s 23-A of HMA

Dear Sir,

Requesting your expert advice on the following matter please -
Case Brief - Wife first filed a false case u/s 498-A of IPC against husband & his parents. The case is ongoing currently.
In due course of time, the wife filed a case of Divorce in the Family Court, on ground of Cruelty, keeping base of the same allegations, which she already used in 498A case.
Now at the stage to file Reply (Written Statement) to this divorce case, can husband do in this way - Denying all her false allegations & then making a counter claim of divorce, on the basis that by making these false allegations in the 498 A case, the wife has infact put mental cruelty on husband, so as to grant divorce to husband, on husband's prayer instead ??
Can you kindly enlighten me, that do we have any precedence of any kind on the above way, that instead of granting divorce on wife's application, it was done on Husband's petition in the same case ?
BTW - There exists a provision to the above u/s 23-A of the Hindu Marriage Act. Though, it seems it has been used very sparingly, with even low probability to sail through.
In the above circumstances what do you suggest as the best way to proceed ahead ?
My details are given below. Pl. feel free to call / let me know if I could be of any help anytime from my end.
Awaiting your guidance to proceed further,
Vishal Indurkhya
C/o Dr. Raja's Diagnostics
1104, Andherdeo
Jabalpur - 482 002
Madhya Pradesh, INDIA
Phone - 0761 - 2652487
Mobile - [0] 94252-13300
E-mail - vishalindu@gmail.com


 12 Replies

Tajobsindia (Senior Partner )     05 April 2011

@ Vishal


A good que. you raised into grey areas under marriage Laws (rightly said not many decisions exists on S. 23 A HMA) simple reason being “matrimonial wrong and or misconduct” is difficult to prove by alleging side.



Anyhow, that besides the point lets cover up the issue in hand;


1. To begin with like to know where proposed S. 23 A HMA is about to file does it come under proper Family Court Act or is it a regular Matrimonial Court? I suppose you know the radical difference in functioning of both nature of Courts?

What I feel is that under the scheme of S. 23 (1)(a) of the Act, the lady will raise preliminary objections that you are not entitled for a decree of divorce. In short the lady (side) will vehemently oppose making it look like it is the case of the appellant that the respondent was trying to take advantage of his own wrong. The word "wrong" is crucial word which you need to overcome.


How !


A. Let us scuffle through her ground seeking divorce which is simply filed on the basis of cruelty. Right? Her further claims would be that you have done certain acts of cruelty resulting into seeking remedy under S. 498a IPC and associated IPC section which I guess she might have got charge sheeted under therein. Right ? Her further claims would be that as per settled position of law there has no been no decree in divorce proceedings announced so you cannot raise a counter claim and it is premature stage hence your counter claim suit is bound to get dismissed. I mean I am just raising few of the preliminary objections she would raise and not mean to scare you and from my side go ahead raise counter claims U/s 23 A HMA by all means.


Here I give my opinion on matrimonial 'wrong' as justification to sail through;


To constitute a "wrong" in terms of S. 23 of the Act, there has to be a positive act and/or action / conduct which is more than disinclination to cohabit on the part of the husband to
frustrate decree for divorce and such a case has to be made out by you while opposing her petition for divorce should be there. Meaning thereby you have to shuffle now the W/s that you filed before when she filed for Divorce ! If there are gaping holes in your W/s then you pass the test and if you didnot oppose then your this S. 23 A HMA suit will become infructious is my opinion.


. In order to be a `wrong', the conduct of the husband should be something more than mere disinclination to agree to an offer of re-union i.e. RCR plea in w/s, it must be a misconduct so as to justify denial of relief.



. Here to constitute "wrong" one also need to see subsequent events pending divorce must also be considered for doing complete and substantial justice to such counter suit i.e. under S. 23 A HMA is my additional views.


Now you should gain access to Amendments in HMA till date and here I am pointing to 1964 Amendment and the limited object and effect of the Amendment introduced by Act No. 44 of 1964. The amendment was not introduced in order that the provisions contained in S. 23 HMA should be abrogated and that is not the effect of the amendment.





F. The purpose of the amendment and the effect of sub-section (1-A) of S. 13 HMA can be appreciated by reference to the provisions contained in S. 13 HMA itself. In the first place the opening words of sub-section 13 provide a sharp contrast, and a comparison of the respective provisions of the two sub-sections would show that the object of sub-section (1-A) was merely to enlarge the right to apply for divorce and not to make it compulsive that a petition for divorce presented under sub-section (1-A) must be allowed on mere proof that there was no cohabitation or restitution for the requisite period. See there is where the catch in your favour rests !



G. Now, it is clear on a comparison of the opening words of the above Re. two sub-sections, that all that sub-section (1-A) deals with is the right to apply for a decree of divorce. It does not provide that a petition for dissolution of a marriage by a decree of divorce shall be allowed on proof of either of the two conditions mentioned in that sub- section. Once it is appreciated that the object of the amendment by which sub-section (1A) was introduced in S. 13 HMA and by which clauses (viii) and (ix) were deleted from sub-section (1) of that section is merely to confer a right to apply for divorce on both the parties to the marriage irrespective of whether the decree for judicial separation or the decree for restitution of conjugal rights or even decree in divorce proceedings was obtained by this or that party.



Hence there would be no difficulty in holding that the provisions contained in S. 13(1-A) are subject to those contained in S. 23(1) HMA. I hope you are getting now the argumentative logic ?



So S. 23(1) HMA provides that "in any proceeding" under the Act, if the Court is satisfied regarding the facts and circumstances mentioned in clauses (a) to (e) of sub-section (1), "then and in such a case, but not otherwise, the Court shall decree such relief accordingly." The very language of this sub-section shows that it governs every proceeding under the Act and a duty is cast on the Court to decree the relief sought only if the conditions mentioned in the sub-section are satisfied, and not otherwise.



In my further opinion in fact, it is difficult to see how one can make any distinction between sub-sections (1) and (1A) of S. 13 HMA in so far as the applicability of S. 23(1) HMA is concerned ! Sub-section (1) of S. 13 HMA is clearly subject to the provisions contained in S. 23(1) HMA. If that be so, sub-section (1A) would equally be so subject. There is nothing in the language of the two sub-sections to justify the view that sub- sections to justify the view that sub-section (1), but not sub-section (1-A) is subject to the provisions of S. 23(1) HMA."



I hope now you got the pleading logics, now no Court is satisfied unless some masala is thrown into it so in the case of Re. Savitri Pandey vs. Prem Chandra Pandey [(2002) 2 SCC 73, the Hon'ble Supreme Court held,



"13. In any proceedings under the Act whether defended or not the court would decline to grant relief to the petitioner if it is found that the petitioner was taking advantage of his or her own wrong or diability for the purposes of the reliefs contemplated under S. 23(1) of the Act. No party can be permitted to carve out the ground for destroying the family which is the basic unit of the society.



Also Re. to Division Bench of Mumbai High Court decision in the case of Sunita Rajendra Nikalje vs. Rajendra Eknath Nikalje [1996 (1) Mh.L.J. 572], after referring to the decision in the case of Dharmendra Kumar Vs. Usha Kumar [AIR 1977 SC 2218], the Mumbai HC elaborated the meaning of the word "wrong" in the following words:



"..........`wrong' means only serious or grave misconduct on the party of the party seeking divorce or relief against the other. It is not necessary that there should be fresh marital offence. It depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case to judge whether it was `worng' or not. Take the case where the party makes accusation of adultery or infidelity or brings about a situation to make, it impossible for one party to resume cohabitation or causes injury to other or is living with another woman/man or gives threats scaring the other party. There is some such positive conduct after the decree for restitution of conjugal rights is passed. Mere disinclination or reluctance to accept the other spouse is not sufficient. There should be attempt of making it impossible for a spouse to resume cohabitation after the decree for restitution of conjugal rights is passed. Discretion is conferred to strike a balance. The Court should not grant the decree lightly or defeat it when the marriage is broken down completely. All this is necessary to be viewed against the backdrop of facts and circumstances of each case."



But always be very careful when applying under S. 23 A HMA as various Court have opined that S. 23(1)(a) of the Act is couched in negative terms and burden always lay upon the petitioner (here in this case you) to prove that he/she was not taking advantage of his/her own 'wrong'. So get over the first hurdle before Bench while admission stage that you are not taking advantage of any 'wrong' is all that I can say while suggestively trying to make sense to help you out in asked briefs.


All the best


BTW: How was taste of 7 Up last Saturday J   

1 Like

Ravikant Soni (LAWYER IN JAIPUR)     05 April 2011

Yes you should file counter claim for divorce. But keep in the mind that onus of prooving your contentions would become more dificult on the part of you. You must proove your story besides disproving her.  

1 Like

adv. rajeev ( rajoo ) (practicing advocate)     05 April 2011

yes you have deny the allegations made against you in the petition.  YOu need not to claim counter claim of divorce because she has claimed the divorce and just you have to say allow the petition.

Tajobsindia (Senior Partner )     05 April 2011


Originally posted by :adv. rajeev ( rajoo )
yes you have deny the allegations made against you in the petition.  YOu need not to claim counter claim of divorce because she has claimed the divorce and just you have to say allow the petition.

@ Ld. Rajeev

How come? Who will meet alimony then which becomes for sure against the backdrop of Hon'ble SC ruling where in it lays precedent that “if she is not able to prove cruelty then respondent spouse need not have to pay alimony in a Divorce proceedings”


Meaning thereby she is only allowed S. 24 HMA that also till finality award date and afterwards she goes back home"

Well well well…..sometimes life's easy solution comes as most expensive suggestions and what this author is trying to do in my bare reading is that he is on the verge of creating a local State precedent and thus suggesting him for pants down as per your kind advise will be monetarily not right way is my view and hence I differ to your young at heart advise!


Jamai Of Law (propra)     05 April 2011

In the backdrop of 498a filed against you and your parents, if you file a counterclaim (any .... divorce , RCR or JS) it will be the worst thing that may happen to you ever ... Beware ... that's the thing that other party wants you to do .... drag you in open battle field!!


A prudent person will not let divorce happen unless the 498A is pending as he cant spend his life fighting the State .......... even after divorce . ...................... and the wife leading a happy life!!


To talk about sec 23A of HMA:-

it only explicitly suggests that respondent is not barred from filing a relief vide HMA  under grounds mentioned sec 13 of HMA.



It is more like a equitable set-off (first section of sec 23A paragraph)

And optionally ..........one may demand the counter-relief ("Don't slap me with divorce decree!...  but award me with divorce decree!!  :) 

Counterclaim is not compulsary.



But if both parties file claim and counterclaim of divorce, divorce is certain almost.

Hon Judge just has to decide 'to whom to deliver the baton'





You need to "dis-prove" the wife's allegations to qualify it as a mental cruelty on you. Burden is on you disprove her allegations and prove your version of facts..


Mere 'non proved' allegations of wife won't suffice.



Fictitious scenario:- Let's say ...........

EITHER you tortured your wife in reality and made her abandon her matrimonial home

OR she is the real culprit and ejected herself from marital home for no reasons and filed false cases against you.


After She filed 498a and divorce. ............If due to lack of proofs, she does not get either of reliefs.


What next? ...


will/should u be allowed to file for divorce on mental cruelty? .... NO

Does above prove either of you culprit? ... NO.

1 Like

Sarvesh Kumar Sharma Advocate (Advocacy)     05 April 2011

full agree with

Jamai Of Law 's view!

good job!

Narinder (Advocate)     10 April 2011

Dear Brother In agreement with the suggestions given by the learned friends, I wants to suggest that firstly you are to contest the Divorce Petition. If you loose the petition you will get trouble in Criminal Case U/sec 498-A  as the judgment of Divorce case will be binding on Criminal case.I am not saying not to file Counter Claim. File Counter claim and also try to prove the same but before that petitioner will lead the evidence and in cross to the petitioner you are to damage her case first and then cross her on your Counter claim. It hardly matter if you fail in proving your counter claim but it will matterif you failed to defend the case of petitioner.

Indian Citizen (Associate)     19 July 2011


Similar situation in our case.


Wife first filed a false case u/s 498-A of IPC against husband & his parents. The case is ongoing currently.

In due course of time, the wife filed a case of Divorce in the Family Court, on ground of Cruelty, keeping base of the same allegations, which she already used in 498A case.

As suggested by our counsel , at the stage to file Reply (Written Statement) to this divorce case, husband denied all her false allegations & then made a counter claim of divorce, on the basis that by making these false allegations in the 498 A case, the wife has infact put mental cruelty on husband, so as to grant divorce to husband, on husband's prayer instead ?Husband has agreed to divorce if wife withdraws criminal cases against husband & doesnot ask any maintenance in future......

Reading your views, it seems we have taken a wrong step. Do we withdraw our counterclaim as the next date of hearing is very soon??

Urgent advise please.....

anonymus (Engineer)     19 July 2011

i do not undertand why cant people live life forgiving each other.... moreover, if you cant stand a person then leave it peacefully..... u want a divorce withdrawing the 498 A case and also does not ask for maintaince... can we please be a little more human.... i m not saying if you are right or not... but the thing is this life is tooo short to live around the court matters.... there are many other things you might want to do than this... why not finish off on human grounds.....

Indian Citizen (Associate)     19 July 2011

Little more human???

People who do not know the agony of 498a may talk of being human. On one side you have empowered women to be equivalent in education, career etc. You educate & build a career of your own...& some fine day...a women enters your life for only 3-4 weeks........lodges a false complaint.....your entire family is humiliated .......your physical/mental/financial/social health is ruined......n later she wants a divorce & lead a free life (on your expenses) & you entangled in courts throughout life......still u feel to be humane.......

If husband is responsible to provide maintenance to a wife then a wife also has certain responsibilities towards her husband....Y doesnot the humanity reciprocated then??

If husband & wife are educated then amicable setllement happens without involving even a 3rd person.To end things humanely, courts have mediation centers to settle dispute amicably. Its only when you feel misuse of certain acts/laws....n you wanna fight for justice.....you then cannot finish off on human grounds!!

sankar P (supervisor)     15 October 2015

Thanks for the LCI Experts for the good suggestion under sec 23A of HMA Act.

It is very useful advice in my divorce proceedings,

I need one clarification based on this Sec 23A of HMA,

My wife filled Divorce on cruelty,

I filled counter reply.

Again my wife filled IA for Sec 24 of HMA with Domestic violence 2005,

Again I filled counter reply.

This Time I add one petition for Sec 23A seeking relief,

The opposite advocate told that he will file counter reply.

My Question is , Is it Possible to File Counter reply on Sec 23 A of HMA Petition?

Kindly guide me sir,

Thanks & Regards,

NM (j)     16 October 2015

Sir, Relief U/s 23A HMA Sir, My wife lives in Jaipur and I am settled and was married in Delhi. Wife first filed a petition u/s 13 cruelty. Subsequently we filed petition u/s 13(B) HMA jointly. But after getting her all the streedhan, she filed a false 498a.The case got disposed u/s 153(3) CRPC by the court on the recommendations of the closure report submitted by the police while nullifying all her statement. Now she has filed a fresh petition u/s 13 HMA o/a of Cruelty. Can I get Relief U/s 23A HMA to transfer the case from Jaipur to Delhi o/a of false case of 498a done by her amounting cruelty?

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