9) Apart from the above pleadings, both parties filed statement in the form of an affidavit/petition and also let in evidence reiterating their respective pleas. As discussed earlier, the only instance highlighted by the appellant for divorce was that the respondent-wife abused his parents on the day of festival of Lohri in the presence of relatives and neighbours.
10) In Samar Ghosh vs. Jaya Ghosh, (2007) 4 SCC 511, a three-Judge Bench of this Court while considering Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Act laid down certain guidelines. The analysis and ultimate conclusion are relevant which reads as under:-
“98. 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.
99. 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.
100. 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 straitjacket 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.
101. 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 sterilisation 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.”
11) A Hindu marriage solemnized under the Act can only be dissolved on any of the grounds specified therein. We have already pointed out that in the petition for dissolution of marriage, the appellant has merely mentioned Section 13 of the Act and in the body of the petition he highlighted certain instances amounting to cruelty by the respondent-wife. Cruelty has not been defined under the Act. It is quite possible that a particular conduct may amount to cruelty in one case but the same conduct necessarily may not amount to cruelty due to change of various factors, in different set of circumstances. Therefore, it is essential for the appellant, who claims relief, to prove that a particular/part of conduct or behaviour resulted in cruelty to him. No prior assumptions can be made in such matters. Meaning thereby that it cannot be assumed that a particular conduct will, under all circumstances, amount to cruelty, vis-à-vis the other party. The aggrieved party has to make a specific case that the conduct of which exception is taken amounts to cruelty. It is true that even a single act of violence which is of grievous and inexcusable nature satisfies the test of cruelty. Persistence in inordinate sexual demands or malpractices by either spouse can be cruelty if it injures the other spouse. There is no such complaint by the appellant. In the case on hand, as stated earlier, the appellant has projected few instances in which, according to him, the respondent abused his parents. We have verified all the averments in the petitions, reply statement, written submissions as well as the evidence of both parties. We are satisfied that on the basis of such instances, marriage cannot be dissolved.
12) 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 precedent 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. Making certain statements on the spur of the moment and expressing certain displeasure about the behaviour of elders may not be characterized as 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. Sustained unjustifiable and reprehensible conduct affecting physical and mental health of the other spouse may lead to mental cruelty. Both the appellant and respondent being highly qualified persons, the appellant being Principal in ITI College, the respondent working as a Librarian in a Government Institute, an isolated friction on some occasion like festival of Lohri even in the presence of others cannot be a valid ground for dissolving the marriage.