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Kalapatapu Lakshmi Bharati Vs. Sai Kumar


Court: Andhra High Court


Kalapatapu Lakshmi Bharati Vs. Kalapatapu Sai Kumar On 31 August 2016

Law Point:
Irretrievable breakdown of marriage. Husband and Wife living separately for a long period of time.





These two Civil Miscellaneous Appeals arise out of common order, dated 25.11.2005, in HMOP.Nos.310 of 2004 and 270 of 2005 on the file of the learned I Additional Senior Civil Judge, Guntur.

The appellant in both these appeals filed HMOP.No.310 of 2004 under Section-13(i)(a) and (i)(b) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (for short the Act) for dissolution of marriage. The respondent has filed HMOP.No.270 of 2005 under Section-9 of the Act for restitution of conjugal rights.

It is the pleaded case of the appellant that her marriage with the respondent was solemnised on 13.10.1995 as per Hindu rites; that out of their wedlock, a male child by name Sri Vatsava was born on 29.6.1997; that at the time of the marriage, the respondents family made the appellant believe that the former was the Managing Director of Vinayak Sai Investment Limited; that the business was in a good condition; that after the marriage, the appellant came to know that there was a complete downfall in the business of the respondent; that as the financial crises engulfed the family, the appellant joined SSR College, Nizamabad as a Lecturer; that the respondent used to take the appellants entire salary and ill-treat her; and that the respondent used to cause mental torture to the appellant due to inferiority complex due to his lesser educational qualifications than the appellant.

The appellant further pleaded that the respondent was in heavy debts, as a result of which, a number of creditors have filed cases against him at Nizamabad; that on one occasion, some of the creditors along with rowdies beat the respondent and took away two vehicles belonging to him; that he has sent the appellant to her maternal house demanding to bring money; that out of love and affection, the appellants father had arranged a sum of Rs.3 lakhs; that having noticed the problems being faced by the appellant, her mother-in-law had suggested to her to go over to Hyderabad with his son and continue her higher education; that as per the said advice, the appellant has put up her family at Hyderabad and joined as a Research Scholar for Ph.D in Micro-Biology during June 1999, with the financial assistance of her father; that even during her stay at Hyderabad, the respondent used to visit the appellant frequently and cause mental torture to her; that the respondent used to spread scandalous remarks against the appellant; that due to the sadistic behaviour of the respondent, the appellant was forced to discontinue her Ph.D Course; that later, when the appellant applied for a seat in the University of Louisiana, U.S.A., her visa application was rejected due to the handiwork of the respondent; that, at last, the appellant secured a seat in a University in U.S.A. during, 2002, but, due to the intervention of the respondent, all her efforts were nullified; that the respondent has stopped all his activities at Nizamabad and totally shifted to Hyderabad by joining the appellant; that as the respondent has become penniless, he stepped up his harassment towards the appellant; that in spite of the appellants parents and her paternal uncle requesting the respondent to mend his ways, he did not heed to their request; that on one day, the respondent has locked the appellant, her child and her parents in a room and went away and did not return till night; that after his return, he abused the appellant in filthy language and assaulted herself and her child and the mother of the appellant was badly beaten up; that being thrown out, the appellant has returned to Guntur and started living with her parents there; that the appellant has admitted her son in a school at Guntur and she has joined as a Lecturer in GVR College, Guntur for eking out her livelihood; that all her efforts to adjust with the respondent proved futile; that as a last hope, the appellant has taken the respondent to Dr. K.R.Reddy, a famous Psychiatrist in 2002; and that after the counselling, the doctor has prescribed some medicines to the respondent, who on coming out of the hospital, beat the appellant in the hospital premises itself saying that the medicines would be used by mental patients and that he was not such a patient.

On behalf of the appellant, she examined herself as P.W-1 and marked Exs.A-1 to A-6 on her side. On behalf of the respondent, he has examined himself as R.W-1 and also examined R.Ws.2 to 4 and got Exs.B-1 to B-4 marked.

On appreciation of the oral and documentary evidence, the lower Court has dismissed HMOP.No.310 of 2004 and allowed HMOP.No.270 of 2005.

Heard learned counsel for both the parties and perused the record.

The evidence on record, as discussed by the lower Court, would clearly show that serious differences cropped up between the appellant and the respondent and that the repeated efforts made by the elders for reconciliation proved futile. Of course, the lower Court has accepted the plea of the respondent that it is only due to the adamant attitude of the appellant and her parents, that the parties could not sink their differences and live together. The fact, however, remained that the appellant and the respondent are living separately from 2002 onwards, which means that 14 years had expired since the time they started living separately.

In Samar Ghosh Vs. Jaya Ghosh , the Supreme Court held that once the parties are separated and the separation has continued for a sufficient length of time and one of them has presented a petition for divorce, it can well be presumed that the marriage is broken down and that the Court, no doubt, would seriously make an endeavour to reconcile the parties; yet, if it is found that the breakdown is irreparable, then divorce should not be withheld. It has further held that the consequences of preservation in law of the unworkable marriage which has long ceased to be effective are bound to be a source of greater misery for the parties. The Apex Court referred to and relied upon its earlier judgment in Kohli Vs. Neelu Kohli , wherein it is held as under:

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 the 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.

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.

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.

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.

The other majority view, which is shared by most jurists, acceding 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.

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.

One of the instances indicated by the Supreme Court in Samar Ghosh (1 supra), which may be relevant in dealing with the case of mental cruelty is as under:

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 the light of the undisputed fact that the parties have been living separately for nearly 14 years, there may be no escape from the conclusion that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. As held by the Supreme Court, a long time separation itself would lead to mental cruelty. Therefore, irrespective of the findings of the lower Court on the failure of the appellant to prove mental cruelty, she is entitled to a decree for dissolution of marriage on the sole reason that there is no possibility for reunion of the parties in order to live together. Since the marriage between the parties has irretrievably broken down, any attempt to force the parties to live together would tantamount to causing mental cruelty and would only prolong the mental agony of the parties for the rest of their lives.

In the afore-mentioned facts and circumstances of the case, HMOP.No.310 of 2004 is decreed and HMOP.No.270 of 2005 is dismissed. Both the appeals are allowed.

As a sequel to disposal of the appeals, interim order, dated 22.6.2006, in CMAMP.No.927 of 2006 is vacated and CMAMP.No.927 of 2006 filed by the appellant for interim relief is disposed of as infructuous.

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