The Delhi High Court recently observed that if a wife attempts to commit suicide and then tries to blame the husband and in-laws for the same, then it amounts to extreme cruelty and it can be a ground for divorce.
A Division Bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna while rejecting an appeal contesting the family court’s decision to grant her husband a divorce based on allegations of cruelty held that such conduct of the wife might lead to keep the husband and his family under constant threat of being implicated in false cases.
In this case, the couple got married in 2007 and had a child together out of this wedlock. The husband (hereinafter referred to as the respondent) claimed that the wife (hereinafter referred to as the appellant) deserted their marital home just four months after their marriage and alleged that she filed a police complaint, stating that a substantial dowry was provided and that excessive demands for dowry were made by his parents. Her uncle Shri Rakesh Pankaj also filed a false criminal case under Section 379 IPC for theft of the car in which the respondent had to seek anticipatory bail.
The appellant thereafter filed a petition wherein serious allegations were leveled against the respondent that he was already married at the time of his marriage to the appellant and sought annulment of their marriage. Subsequently, the matter was compromised, and the Petition was withdrawn by the appellant whereby she submitted that she had filed the petition for nullity of marriage on the misinformation she got against the respondent/husband.
The Court also observed that the appellant also tried to commit suicide by consuming mosquito repellent liquid. After reviewing the accusations, the Court observed that despite the wife’s assertion of being coerced into writing the suicide note, during her cross-examination, she acknowledged that her husband wasn’t present at home when she attempted to take her own life.
The Court also observed that despite numerous complaints filed by the appellant, many resulted in acquittals, she persisted in filing appeals to secure the imprisonment of her husband and his family members. The Court rightly held that,
“It has been rightly observed by the learned Addl. Principal Judge, Family Court that the appellant had not been able to bring on record any document or any cogent evidence to prove that the respondent was married at the time of his marriage with the appellant. Her allegations were based on misinformation as had been admitted by the appellant before the Family Court. The respondent for about two years was not only subjected to civil, but also criminal cases against him on unsubstantiated allegations arising from misinformation.”
In the case of Pankaj Mahajan V. Dimple, 2011 it was held by the Supreme Court that the repeated threats to commit suicide and the attempt to commit suicide was held to be an action amounting to cruelty.
Cruelty as a ground for Divorce
Besides physical harm, subjecting a woman to mental stress, compromising her peace of mind for a spouse, or causing continual mental agony constitutes mental cruelty. Yet, understanding an individual’s psychology remains elusive, and given the variability in sensitivities, accusations of cruelty may not always be entirely factual. In the groundbreaking ruling of Mayadevi Vs. Jagdish Prasad in February 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that both spouses, not just women but also men, can seek divorce on grounds of mental cruelty. In this instance, the respondent applied for divorce citing a persistent pattern of cruelty from his wife, alleging she withheld food from him and their children, attributing blame to the husband and his family members.
Therefore, a man is equally eligible for divorce in the face of any form of inflicted cruelty.”
Case Name- Ms. Payal Sethi V. Sh. Rohit Sethi
Anshra Zafar, a 2nd year student pursuing B.A.LLB (Hons) from IILM University, Greater Noida, 4th Semester. An intern under Legal Vidhiya
Disclaimer: The materials provided herein are intended solely for informational purposes. Accessing or using the site or the materials does not establish an attorney-client relationship. The information presented on this site is not to be construed as legal or professional advice, and it should not be relied upon for such purposes or used as a substitute for advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Additionally, the viewpoint presented by the author is of a personal nature.