In N.G. Dastane v. S. Dastane reported in (1975) 2 SCC 326 at page 337, para 30 observed as under :-
“The enquiry therefore has to be whether the conduct charges as cruelty is of such a character as to cause in the mind of the petitioner a reasonable apprehension that it will be harmful or injurious for him to live with the respondent_.”
In the case of Sirajmohmedkhan Janmohamadkhan v. Haizunnisa Yasinkhan & Anr. reported in (1981) 4 SCC 250, this Court stated that the concept of legal cruelty changes according to the changes and advancement of social concept and standards of living. With the advancement of our social conceptions, this feature has obtained legislative recognition, that a second marriage is a sufficient ground for separate residence and maintenance. Moreover, to establish legal cruelty, it is not necessary that physical violence should be used. Continuous ill-treatment, cessation of marital intercourse, studied neglect, indifference on the part of the husband, and an assertion on the part of the husband that the wife is unchaste are all factors which lead to mental or legal cruelty.
In the case of Shobha Rani v. Madhukar Reddi reported in (1988) 1 SCC 105, this Court had an occasion to examine the concept of cruelty. The word ‘cruelty’ has not been defined in the Hindu Marriage Act. It has been used in Section 13(1)(i)(a) of the Act in the context of human conduct or behaviour in relation to or in respect of matrimonial duties or obligations. It is a course of conduct of one which 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 cases, 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 wilful ill-treatment.
In Rajani v. Subramonian AIR 1990 Ker. 1 the Court aptly observed that the concept of cruelty depends upon the type of life the parties are accustomed to or their economic and social conditions, their culture and human values to which they attach importance, judged by standard of modern civilization in the background of the cultural heritage and traditions of our society.
Again, this Court had an occasion to examine in great detail the concept of mental cruelty. In the case of V. Bhagat v. D. Bhagat (Mrs.) reported in (1994) 1 SCC 337, the Court observed, in para 16 at page 347, as under:
“16. Mental cruelty in Section 13(1)(i-a) can broadly be defined as that conduct which inflicts upon the other party such mental pain and suffering as would make it not possible for that party to live with the other. In other words, mental cruelty must be of such a nature that the parties cannot reasonably be expected to live together. The situation must be such that the wronged party cannot reasonably be asked to put up with such conduct and continue to live with the other party. It is not necessary to prove that the mental cruelty is such as to cause injury to the health of the petitioner. While arriving at such conclusion, regard must be had to the social status, educational level of the parties, the society they move in, the possibility or otherwise of the parties ever living together in case they are already living apart and all other relevant facts and circumstances which it is neither possible nor desirable to set out exhaustively. What is cruelty in one case may not amount to cruelty in another case. It is a matter to be determined in each case having regard to the facts and circumstances of that case. If it is a case of accusations and allegations, regard must also be had to the context in which they were made.”
This Court aptly observed in Chetan Dass v. Kamla Devi reported in (2001) 4 SCC 250, para 14 at pp.258-259, as under:
“Matrimonial matters are matters of delicate human and emotional relationship. It demands mutual trust, regard, respect, love and affection with sufficient play for reasonable adjustments with the spouse. The relationship has to conform to the social norms as well. The matrimonial conduct has now come to be governed by statute framed, keeping in view such norms and changed social order. It is sought to be controlled in the interest of the individuals as well as in broader perspective, for regulating matrimonial norms for making of a well-knit, healthy and not a disturbed and porous society. The institution of marriage occupies an important place and role to play in the society, in general. Therefore, it would not be appropriate to apply any submission of ”irretrievably broken marriage” as a straitjacket formula for grant of relief of divorce. This aspect has to be considered in the background of the other facts and circumstances of the case.”
In Savitri Pandey v. Prem Chandra Pandey reported in (2002) 2 SCC 73, the Court stated as under:
“Mental cruelty is the conduct of other spouse which causes mental suffering or fear to the matrimonial life of the other. “Cruelty”, therefore, postulates a treatment of the petitioner with such cruelty as to cause a reasonable apprehension in his or her mind that it would be harmful or injurious for the petitioner to live with the other party. Cruelty, however, has to be distinguished from the ordinary wear and tear of family life. It cannot be decided on the basis of the sensitivity of the petitioner and has to be adjudged on the basis of the course of conduct which would, in general, be dangerous for a spouse to live with the other.”
This Court in the case of Gananath Pattnaik v. State of Orissa reported in (2002) 2 SCC 619 observed as under:
“The concept of cruelty and its effect varies from individual to individual, also depending upon the social and economic status to which such person belongs. “Cruelty” for the purposes of constituting the offence under the aforesaid section need not be physical. Even mental torture or abnormal behaviour may amount to cruelty and harassment in a given case.”
The mental cruelty has also been examined by this Court in Parveen Mehta v. Inderjit Mehta reported in (2002) 5 SCC 706 at pp.716-17 [para 21] which reads as under:
“Cruelty for the purpose of Section 13(1)(i-a) is to be taken as a behaviour by one spouse towards the other, which causes reasonable apprehension in the mind of the latter that it is not safe for him or her to continue the matrimonial relationship with the other. Mental cruelty is a state of mind and feeling with one of the spouses due to the behaviour or behavioural pattern by the other. Unlike the case of physical cruelty, mental cruelty is difficult to establish by direct evidence. It is necessarily a matter of inference to be drawn from the facts and circumstances of the case. A feeling of anguish, disappointment and frustration in one spouse caused by the conduct of the other can only be appreciated on assessing the attending facts and circumstances in which the two partners of matrimonial life have been living. The inference has to be drawn from the attending facts and circumstances taken cumulatively. In case of mental cruelty it will not be a correct approach to take an instance of misbehaviour in isolation and then pose the question whether such behaviour is sufficient by itself to cause mental cruelty. The approach should be to take the cumulative effect of the facts and circumstances emerging from the evidence on record and then draw a fair inference whether the petitioner in the divorce petition has been subjected to mental cruelty due to conduct of the other.” In this case the Court also stated that so many years have elapsed since the spouses parted company. In these circumstances it can be reasonably inferred that the marriage between the parties has broken down irretrievably.
In A. Jayachandra v. Aneel Kaur reported in (2005) 2 SCC 22, the Court observed as under: “The expression “cruelty” has not been defined in the Act. Cruelty can be physical or mental. Cruelty which is a ground for dissolution of marriage may be defined as wilful and unjustifiable conduct of such character as to cause danger to life, limb or health, bodily or mental, or as to give rise to a reasonable apprehension of such a danger. The question of mental cruelty has to be considered in the light of the norms of marital ties of the particular society to which the parties belong, their social values, status, environment in which they live. Cruelty, as noted above, includes mental cruelty, which falls within the purview of a matrimonial wrong. Cruelty need not be physical. If from the conduct of the spouse, same is established and/or an inference can be legitimately drawn that the treatment of the spouse is such that it causes an apprehension in the mind of the other spouse, about his or her mental welfare then this conduct amounts to cruelty. In a delicate human relationship like matrimony, one has to see the probabilities of the case. The concept proof beyond the shadow of doubt, is to be applied to criminal trials and not to civil matters and certainly not to matters of such delicate personal relationship as those of husband and wife. Therefore, one has to see what are the probabilities in a case and legal cruelty has to be found out, not merely as a matter of fact, but as the effect on the mind of the complainant spouse because of the acts or omissions of the other. Cruelty may be physical or corporeal or may be mental. In physical cruelty, there can be tangible and direct evidence, but in the case of mental cruelty there may not at the same time be direct evidence. In cases where there is no direct evidence, Courts are required to probe into the mental process and mental effect of incidents that are brought out in evidence. It is in this view that one has to consider the evidence in matrimonial disputes.
This Court in Vinita Saxena v. Pankaj Pandit reported in (2006) 3 SCC 778 aptly observed as under: “As to what constitutes the required mental cruelty for the purposes of the said provision, will not depend upon the numerical count of such incidents or only on the continuous course of such conduct but really go by the intensity, gravity and stigmatic impact of it when meted out even once and the deleterious effect of it on the mental attitude, necessary for maintaining a conducive matrimonial home. If the taunts, complaints and reproaches are of ordinary nature only, the court perhaps need consider the further question as to whether their continuance or persistence over a period of time render, what normally would, otherwise, not be so serious an act to be so injurious and painful as to make the spouse charged with them genuinely and reasonably conclude that the maintenance of matrimonial home is not possible any longer.”
In Shobha Rani’s case (supra) at pp.108-09, para 5, the Court observed as under:
“5. Each case may be different. We deal with the conduct of human beings who are no generally similar. Among the human beings there is no limit to the kind of conduct which may constitute cruelty. New type of cruelty may crop up in any case depending upon the human behaviour, capacity or incapability to tolerate the conduct complained of. Such is the wonderful (sic) realm of cruelty.”
In this case, the Court cautioned the lawyers and judges not to import their own notions of life in dealing with matrimonial problems. The judges should not evaluate the case from their own standards. There may be a generation gap between the judges and the parties. It is always prudent if the judges keep aside their customs and manners in deciding matrimonial cases in particular.
In a recent decision of this Court in the case of Rishikesh Sharma v. Saroj Sharma reported in 2006 (12) Scale 282, this Court observed that the respondent wife was living separately from the year 1981 and the marriage has broken down irretrievably with no possibility of the parties living together again. The Court further observed that it will not be possible for the parties to live together and therefore there was no purpose in compelling both the parties to live together. Therefore the best course was to dissolve the marriage by passing a decree of divorce so that the parties who were litigating since 1981 and had lost valuable part of life could live peacefully in remaining part of their life. The Court further observed that her desire to live with her husband at that stage and at that distance of time was not genuine.
This Court observed that under such circumstances, the High Court was not justified in refusing to exercise its jurisdiction in favour of the appellant who sought divorce from the Court.
This Court in Naveen Kohli v. Neelu Kohli reported in (2006) 4 SCC 558 dealt with the similar issues in detail. Those observations incorporated in paragraphs 74 to 79 are reiterated in the succeeding paragraphs.
74. We have been principally impressed by the consideration that once the marriage has broken down beyond repair, it would be unrealistic for the law not to take notice of that fact, and it would be harmful to society and injurious to the interests of the parties. Where there has been a long period of continuous separation, it may fairly be surmised that the matrimonial bond is beyond repair. The marriage becomes a fiction, though supported by a legal tie. By refusing to sever that tie the law in such cases does not serve the sanctity of marriage; on the contrary, it shows scant regard for the feelings and emotions of the parties.
75. Public interest demands not only that the married status should, as far as possible, as long as possible, and whenever possible, be maintained, but where a marriage has been wrecked beyond the hope of salvage, public interest lies in the recognition of that fact.
76. Since there is no acceptable way in which a spouse can be compelled to resume life with the consort, nothing is gained by trying to keep the parties tied for ever to a marriage that in fact has ceased to exist.”
77. Some jurists have also expressed their apprehension for introduction of irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a ground for grant of the decree of divorce. In their opinion, such an amendment in the Act would put human ingenuity at a premium and throw wide open the doors to litigation, and will create more problems then are sought to be solved.
78. The other majority view, which is shared by most jurists, according to the Law Commission Report, is that human life has a short span and situations causing misery cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely. A halt has to be called at some stage. Law cannot turn a blind eye to such situations, nor can it decline to give adequate response to the necessities arising therefrom.
79. When we carefully evaluate the judgment of the High Court and scrutinize its findings in the background of the facts and circumstances of this case, it becomes obvious that the approach adopted by the High Court in deciding this matter is far from satisfactory.” On proper analysis and scrutiny of the judgments of this Court and other Courts, we have come to the definite conclusion that there cannot be any comprehensive definition of the concept of ‘mental cruelty’ within which all kinds of cases of mental cruelty can be covered. No court in our considered view should even attempt to give a comprehensive definition of mental cruelty. Human mind is extremely complex and human behaviour is equally complicated. Similarly human ingenuity has no bound, therefore, to assimilate the entire human behaviour in one definition is almost impossible. What is cruelty in one case may not amount to cruelty in other case. The concept of cruelty differs from person to person depending upon his upbringing, level of sensitivity, educational, family and cultural background, financial position, social status, customs, traditions, religious beliefs, human values and their value system.
SC: Samar Ghosh vs Jaya Ghosh on 26 March, 2007
Apart from this, the concept of mental cruelty cannot remain static; it is bound to change with the passage of time, impact of modern culture through print and electronic media and value system etc. etc. What may be mental cruelty now may not remain a mental cruelty after a passage of time or vice versa. There can never be any strait-jacket formula or fixed parameters for determining mental cruelty in matrimonial matters. The prudent and appropriate way to adjudicate the case would be to evaluate it on its peculiar facts and circumstances while taking aforementioned factors in consideration.
No uniform standard can ever be laid down for guidance, yet we deem it appropriate to enumerate some instances of human behaviour which may be relevant in dealing with the cases of ‘mental cruelty’. The instances indicated in the succeeding paragraphs are only illustrative and not exhaustive.
(i) On consideration of complete matrimonial life of the parties, acute mental pain, agony and suffering as would not make possible for the parties to live with each other could come within the broad parameters of mental cruelty.
(ii) On comprehensive appraisal of the entire matrimonial life of the parties, it becomes abundantly clear that situation is such that the wronged party cannot reasonably be asked to put up with such conduct and continue to live with other party.
(iii) Mere coldness or lack of affection cannot amount to cruelty, frequent rudeness of language, petulance of manner, indifference and neglect may reach such a degree that it makes the married life for the other spouse absolutely intolerable.
(iv) Mental cruelty is a state of mind. The feeling of deep anguish, disappointment, frustration in one spouse caused by the conduct of other for a long time may lead to mental cruelty.
(v) A sustained course of abusive and humiliating treatment calculated to torture, discommode or render miserable life of the spouse.
(vi) Sustained unjustifiable conduct and behaviour of one spouse actually affecting physical and mental health of the other spouse. The treatment complained of and the resultant danger or apprehension must be very grave, substantial and weighty.
(vii Sustained reprehensible conduct, studied neglect, indifference or total departure from the normal standard of conjugal kindness causing injury to mental health or deriving sadistic pleasure can also amount to mental cruelty.
(viii) The conduct must be much more than jealousy, selfishness, possessiveness, which causes unhappiness and dissatisfaction and emotional upset may not be a ground for grant of divorce on the ground of mental cruelty.
(ix) Mere trivial irritations, quarrels, normal wear and tear of the married life which happens in day to day life would not be adequate for grant of divorce on the ground of mental cruelty.
(x) The married life should be reviewed as a whole and a few isolated instances over a period of years will not amount to cruelty. The ill-conduct must be persistent for a fairly lengthy period, where the relationship has deteriorated to an extent that because of the acts and behaviour of a spouse, the wronged party finds it extremely difficult to live with the other party any longer, may amount to mental cruelty.
(xi) If a husband submits himself for an operation of sterilization without medical reasons and without the consent or knowledge of his wife and similarly if the wife undergoes vasectomy or abortion without medical reason or without the consent or knowledge of her husband, such an act of the spouse may lead to mental cruelty. (xii) Unilateral decision of refusal to have intercourse for considerable period without there being any physical incapacity or valid reason may amount to mental cruelty.
(xiii) Unilateral decision of either husband or wife after marriage not to have child from the marriage may amount to cruelty.
(xiv)Where there has been a long period of continuous separation, it may fairly be concluded that the matrimonial bond is beyond repair. The marriage becomes a fiction though supported by a legal tie. By refusing to sever that tie, the law in such cases, does not serve the sanctity of marriage; on the contrary, it shows scant regard for the feelings and emotions of the parties. In such like situations, it may lead to mental cruelty.
In Sirajmohmedkhan Janmohamadkhan v. Haizunnisa Yasinkhan & Anr., (1981) 4 SCC 250, this Court stated that the concept of legal cruelty changes according to the changes and advancement of social concept and standards of living. It was further stated that to establish legal cruelty, it is not necessary that physical violence should be used. Continuous cessation of marital intercourse or total indifference on the part of the husband towards marital obligations would lead to legal cruelty.
Harendra Nath Burman vs Sm. Suprova Burman And Anr. on 11/7/1988 – Calcutta High Court – AIR 1989 Cal 120, (1989) 1 CALLT 104 HC, 93 CWN 102
It has been held in the said decision that cause of action arising subsequent to the filing of the suit in consequence with the allegations in the written statement can be taken into consideration by the trial Court including the Court of appeal and the Court can grant relief on such consideration of the subsequent events. It has been held that ordinarily a lis has to be determined on the cause of action made in the pleadings. It is nevertheless will settled that it is open to the court including the court of appeal to take notice of the events which have happened after the institution of the suit and to afford relief to the parties where it is necessary to do complete justice of the case.
Mrs. Abha Gupta vs Rakesh Kumar Gupta on 26 September, 1994 Punjab-Haryana High Court – I (1996) DMC 71, (1995) 109 PLR 453
Even if it be taken that the appellant was not remiss in the discharge of her matrimonial obligations, I am still of the view that the respondent husband was entitled to a decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty. The broad admitted facts as noticed from the evidence are that the appellant left for USSR on November 4, 1989 without knowledge, consent or permission of her husband. She did not write to him from USSR and did not bother to see him by visiting him or talking him on three/four occasions when she visited India while studying in the USSR. She did not even inform her husband about her visits to India. If there was no resentment or objection to her going abroad she would not have behave the way she has done. She even went to England during one of her visits to India. This, in my view, clearly gives a cause to the husband to seek divorce on the ground of cruelty. The acts of the appellant are such which would cause mental agony and torture to the husband amounting to cruelty. She finally came to .India on August 18,1990 and she came to know of the divorce petition only in December, 1990. Even during this period i.e., August 18, 1990 to December, 1990 she made no effort to contact her husband either by visiting him or otherwise. From her statement and the statement of her father, it is clear that she was not interested to see her husband even before the filing of the divorce petition as it had been mentioned to her during one of her visits to India that her husband was thinking of marrying again. Her conduct during the pendency of the divorce petition also leads me to believe that she is not interested to settle in the matrimonial home. There is a complete neglect on her part. It is abundantly clear from what has been discussed above that marriage between the parties has broken down irretrievably and there is no chance of their coming together or living together again. The inevitable conclusion therefore, is that the husband is entitled to a decree of divorce.
In S. Hanumantha Rao v. S. Ramani, , said :
“Mental cruelty broadly means, when either party causes mental pain, agony or suffering of such a magnitude that it severs the bond between the wife and the husband and as a result of which, it becomes impossible for the party who has suffered to live with the other party. In other words, the party who has committed wrong is not expected to live with the other party.”
In Chanderkala Trivedi (Smt.) v. Dr. S.P. Trivedi (1993) 4 SCC 232 it was held that if a marriage was dead and there was no chance of its being retrieved it was better to bring it to an end.
Ms. Jordan Diengdeh vs S.S. Chopra on 10 May, 1985 – 1985 AIR 935, 1985 SCR Supl. (1) 704
(3) In the instant case, the marriage appears to have broken down irretrievably. If the findings of the High Court stand, there is no way out for the couple. They will continue to be tied to each other since neither mutual consent nor irretrievably break-down of marriage is a ground for divorce, under the Indian Divorce Act. There is no point or purpose to be served by the continuance of a marriage which has so completely and signally broken down. The parties are bound together by a marital tie which is better untied. [717 B-C]
The legal position in that behalf is settled by the judgment of this Court Smt. Sumanbai v. Anandrao Onkar Panatil. I myself had occasion to follow the said Judgment in the case of Jaishree Mohan Otavnekar v. Mohan Govind Otavnekar, F.A. No. 2547/83, decided on 12-11-1986. The principle underlying these authorities relate to one specie of mental cruelty which is capable of being inflicted even by the statements made in letters and documents, including the written statement. If a scurrilous allegation is made by one of the spouses against the other spouse, in, say, a letter, causing to him pain and anguish of such excrutiating character that he cannot be reasonable expected to live with the responding spouse after suffering such heinous humiliation, similar allegation giving rise to similar effect upon the petitioning spouse, made in the written statement by the responding spouse, would have the same legal effect of furnishing an independent ground for divorce. Such a painful allegation would constitute a fresh cause of action in favour of the petitioning spouse for divorce on the ground of cruelty resulting from such allegation itself. This is precisely the ratio of the above mentioned two judgments.
S.P. Trivedi (Dr.) vs Chandrakala Trivedi (Smt.) on 20 June, 1989 – 1990 (1) BomCR 715, (1989) 91 BOMLR 449 – Mumbai HC
40. Let me now set out the total perspective as Mperceived by this Court from the totality of evidence. This will automatically lead to setting out the resultant conclusions arrived at by this Court:—
(1) The respondent has been excessively nagging an excessively suspicious spouse.
(2) The Society takes for granted normal spouses (who are at the receiving end in those matters) take these attitudes and behaviours of the other half as part of the game; as something that comes with the matrimonial tie. But everything has its limit, transgression of which makes the case a pathological one. This is the grievance of the petitioner, viz. that the respondent as excessively suspicious and that she indulged in excessive nagging of the petitioner. The wanton allegations about the petitioner’s extra-marital relations with all his female associates strengthen the Court’s belief that the respondent indulged in excessive suspiciousness and the consequent excessive nagging.
(3) This must have made the petitioner’s life quite miserable.
(4) But, while embittering the matrimonial life in this manner, the respondent herself indulged in quite free, liberal, uninhibited emancipated life incompatible with her orthodox stance. This was done, sometimes, quite overtly as in the case of Sajjan Sultania and some other times, on the sly.
(5) In all probability, her habit of going to and staying at her parents place even on crucial occasions when the wife was needed at the matrimonial home is sufficiently proved not only by the petitioner’s evidence but even by virtue of the other evidence on record. It shows that even on such days as the eve of the petitioner’s departure for U.K. in 1980, she went to her parental house and did not go to the Airport to see the petitioner off even in the company of her father who did go to the Airport to see him off. These small stray incidents of pain and anguish must have gone on mounting up.
(6) The photographs were the last straw which broke the camel’s back. The mental turmoil that the petitioner suffered therefrom is in keeping with the orthodox way of life and matrimonial philosophy that both the spouses claim.
(7) There is nothing in the evidence on record which should disuade the Court from accepting the petitioner’s evidence relating to the mental agony and anguish caused to him by the revelations that dawned upon him by the sight of the photographs. It was torment and tension. This belief that any more association with the respondent would be suicidal for him was firmly rooted, in his mind, whether the Court likes it or not.
(8) This was supplemented by the wanton allegations made by the respondent in open public against the petitioner’s moral character vis-a-vis the opposite s*x. The person of his status and reputation is justified in being modified and in complaining that he was made a laughing stock and a target of ridicule and calumny in the eyes of the society jeopardising his professional career.
(9) Admittedly, since 1980, the spouses have never lived together or come together. Their minds have drifted leagues away from each other and the matrimonial bond has been torn as under at least for the continuous period of 9 years. The marriage has gone irretrievably on the rocks.
Supreme Court in Saroj Rani v. Sudarsan Kumar, – Supreme Court
Apex Court endorsed the view that a marital tie should not remain alive as the Court found that the marriage had broken down whatever might have been the reason as the parties could no longer live together as husband and wife.
Kerala High Courl in Abeebacker v. Mamu, 1971 Ker LT 663 where it was observed thus :–
“Daily trivial differences get dissolved in the course of time and may be treated as the teething troubles of early matrimonial adjustment. While the stream of life, lived in married mutuality, may wash away smaller pebbles, what is to happen if intransigent incompatability of minds breaks up the flow of the stream ? In such a situation we have a breakdown of the marriage itself and the only course left open is for law to recognise what is a fact and accord a divorce.”
Calcutta HC:In Amerandra Nath Sanyal v. Krishna Sanyal, 1993 (1)Cal HN 213, it has been held by a Division Bench of this Court that it is now well-settled that false allegation against the character of any spouse made by the other spouse constitutes mental cruelty and that such mental cruelly will be a valid ground for passing a decree of divorce under Section 13(1)(ii) of the Hindu Marriage Act and that even post-suit allegations or events may be taken into consideration to shorten litigation and to do complete justice between the parties. In the said case the Division Bench found that respondent-wife made baseless and false allegations against her husband to the effect that he had love affair and illicit connection with another girl and having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case the Division Bench was of the opinion that the petitioner-husband was entitled to a decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty.
Calcutta HC: In Sanatan-Banerjee v. Sachindra Nath Banerjee, , a Division Bench of this Court granted decree of divorce inter alia on the ground of making false allegation by the wife against husband of illicit s*xual relationship made in the written statement and also in deposition.
Calcutta HC: In Annapurna Ganguly v. Dipak Ganguly, (1991) 95 Cal WN 806 it has been held that a suspicion harboured and expressed by the wife about the character of the husband would undoubtedly amount to cruelty if it is established that the said conduct is likely to harm or injure the health, reputation, working career or the like of the other spouse.
Calcutta HC: In catena of decisions, namely, Sm. Krishna Sarbadhikary v. Alok Ranjam Sarbadhikary, reported in, ,Nemai Kumar Ghosh v. Smt. Mita Ghosh, reported in, , Harendra Nath Burman v. Smt. Suprova Burman, reported in, , Sm. Santana Banerjee v. Sachindra Nath Banerjee, reported in, and Amarendranath Sannyal v. Smt. Krishna Sannyal, reported in, 1993 (1) Cal HN 213 various Division Benches of this Court settled, as a proposition of law, that unfounded or baseless allegation of adultery by one spouse against the other constituted mental cruelty of the gravest character to warrant divorce. Allegations made in the written statement itself and in the deposition could and should be taken note of in matrimonial proceedings without driving the petitioner to another proceeding on the ground of such cruelty.
Supreme Court : In Durga Prasanna Tripathy v. Arundhati Tripathy, this Court further observed that marriages are made in heaven. Both parties have crossed the point of no return. A workable solution is certainly not possible. Parties cannot at this stage reconcile themselves and live together forgetting their past as a bad dream. We, therefore, have no other option except to allow the appeal and set aside the judgment of the High Court and affirming the order of the Family Court granting decree for divorce.”
In Vinod Kumar Sharma v. Nutan Sharma (supra), this Court held as under; “The court have had occasion to consider the effect of complaints made to the employer, to persons in authority, and to the police, in F.A.O. No 124/84 andShakuntala Kumari v. Om Parkash Ghai, 1981 (1) DMC 25 ; N.G. Dastane v. S. Dastane, AIR 1975 SC 1534; Lajwanti Chandhok v. O.N. Chandhok, 1981 (II) DMC 97 ; Kiran Kapur v. Surinder Kumar, 1982 RLR (Note) 37 at page 36 ; Sharda Nand Sharma v Kiran Sharma, 28 (1985) DLT (SN) 32; Girdhari Lal v. Santosh Kumari, (1982) I DMC 180; and Jorden Dlengdoh v. S.S. Chopra, (1982) I DMC 224. Such complaints, which are found to be baseless and to have been made by one of the spouses, have in these cases led to a finding of cruelty against the person complained against. I see no reason why a complaint by a person other than the spouse, who his identified himself with the spouse on whose behalf or at whose behest he has complained, should not be equated to the spouse, and the act of such a person be not deemed to be the act of the spouse. Here the person complained against was the husband. I note from the judgment of the court below that none of these judgments have been noticed by him, and he is of the view that these complaints do not amount to cruelty. In view of the aforesaid judgments of this court, and of the Supreme Court there has to be a finding of cruelty by the wife towards the husband. She made complaints or got the complaints made to the employers and the police which were found to be baseless on enquiry. Cruelty of the wife being established, the husband would be entitled to a divorce on that ground.”
In Smt. Mayadevi v. Jagdish Prasad, (supra), the Apex Court has observed as under; “The Court dealing with the petition for divorce on the ground of cruelty has to bear in mind that the problems before it are those of human beings and the psychological changes in a spouse’s conduct have to be borne in mind before disposing of the petition for divorce. However insignificant or trifling, such conduct may cause pain in the mind of another. But before the conduct can be called cruelty, it must touch a certain pitch of severity. It is for the Court to weigh the gravity. It has to be seen whether the conduct was such that no reasonable person would tolerate it. It has to be considered whether the complainant should be called upon to endure as a part of normal human life. Every matrimonial conduct, which may cause annoyance to the other, may not amount to cruelty. Mere trivial irritations, quarrels between spouses, which happen in day-to-day married life, may also not amount to cruelty. Cruelty in matrimonial life may be of unfounded variety, which can be subtle or brutal. It may be words, gestures or by mere silence, violent or non-violent.
Chandhok (Lajwanti) vs Chandhok (O.N.) on 26/8/1981 – ILR 1982 Delhi 689, 1981 RLR 619
(9) I am of the view that there was evidence plain and sufficient enough to justify a finding that the life of the husband has been subjected to cruelty and has become unendurable even for a man who has carried on with it right into his sixties. There is limit to endurance. Howsoever, one may wish, society cannot scrap marriage. It is compulsion of creation. It was rather sanctified and hallowed so that couples live in peace, in fear of God and help retain calmness in the community. Yet, it had to devise doors of exit as and when it becomes unreasonably unbearable and converges into sheer bondage. I, therefore, find no ground for altering the decision of the court below. There remained nothing in the marriage except the name. The vows were forgotten. Incantations lost in their spell. The learned Judge below was right in formally snapping the ties which had ceased to be binding happy or purposeful.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY – CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION – FAMILY COURT APPEAL NO. 66 OF 2006 – Ajay Ashok Khedkar …. ….. ….. ….. Appellant. – V/s – Sou. Laleeta Ajay Khedkar….. …. ….. ….Respondent.
We fail to understand the logic behind the reasoning adopted by the family court to hold that a singular complaint of this nature under section 498A of IPC resulting in arrest and detention of the family members and relatives thereby causing utmost embarrassment, humiliation and suffering does not constitute mental cruelty. It is illogical that more than one complaint are necessary to be filed to constitute mental cruelty. In our view, embarrassment, humiliation and suffering that is caused on account of arrest and detention of appellant and his family members and relatives in a false case does constitute mental cruelty to enable the husband to seek decree of divorce on this sole ground. In our considered opinion, the approach of the family court is wholly perverse and the reasoning cannot be sustained in law.