28 May 2010

Filing false cases against spouse amounts to 'cruelty': High Court

In a recently reported decision [AIR 2010 Raj 56], the Rajasthan High Court has declared that filing false cases against spouse amounts to cruelty so as to entitle the other spouse to obtain a decree of divorce. The High Court was dealing with the challenge to the validity of a decision of the lower court which had granted a decree of divorce on the ground that the treatment of the husband at the hands of the wife had been one of cruelty where she had instituted a number of cases against him and her in-laws which she admitted later to be false.

In these circumstances, upholding the divorce, the High Court observed inter alia as under;

Where there has been a long period of continuous separation it may fairly be concluded that the matrimonial bond is beyond repair. This Court has seriously made an endeavour to reconcile the parties but the breakdown appears to be irreparable. Even learned counsel for the appellant has frankly admitted that the parties at this stage cannot reconcile and live together forgetting their past as a bad dream. The consequence of preserving an unworkable marriage which has long ceased to be effective are bound to be a source of greater misery for the parties.
In (2005) 2 SCC 22 the Apex Court has observed 
“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 this case, the appellant has not only instituted a number of cases against the respondent and his family members but she has also made allegations against the respondent regarding illicit relations with his Bhabhis and niece which are worst types of allegations and she has also admitted these allegations to be untrue. The conduct of the appellant clearly amounts to cruelty to the respondent.
In view of the above discussion, it is clear that the argument of learned counsel for the appellant that the appellant has not treated the respondent with cruelty has no force. There is also no substance in the argument of learned counsel for the appellant that the respondent has forgiven the appellant as no such evidence is available on the record.
From the analysis and evaluation of the entire evidence, it is clear that the appellant has resolved to live in agony only to make the life a miserable hell for the respondent as well. This type of adamant attitude leaves no manner of doubt that the appellant is bent upon treating the respondent with mental cruelty. It is thus clear that learned Family Court has not committed any error by deciding issue no.1 against the appellant.
This case reminds me the words of a famous jurist that to live with a man (woman) you hate is a slavery but to be compelled to submit to his (her) embraces is a misfortune too great even for slavery itself.
In view of the fact that the parties have been living separately for a number of years and a large number of cases have been instituted by one party against the other party, it is clear that the marriage between the parties has broken down irretrievably and there is no chance of their coming together or living together again.

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