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Manorma Vs. Karan Singh



Court: Punjab And Haryana High Court

Bench: JUSTICE J.V. Gupta

Manorma Vs. Karan Singh On 10 January 1983

Law Point:
Section 13(1)(ia) — Husband’s petition for divorce on ground of wife’s cruelty — Husband proving continuous contempt, disrespect and misbehaviour of wife towards him and his family members causing mental agony — Wife even not attending funeral of his father-in-law — Wife held guilty of mental cruelty entitling the husband to divorce.





1. This appeal is directed against the judgment of Additional District Judge, Gurgaon, whereby petition under S. 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act for granting divorce filed on behalf of the husband respondent has been accepted and a decree for divorce in his favour has been passed.

2. The husband-respondent filed an application under S. 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act for granting a decree of divorce on the ground that his wife has after the solemnization of the marriage treated him with cruelty. The marriage between the parties was solemnized on 25th April 1969 and out of that wedlock a son was born in the year 1972. According to the allegations of the husband, after the solemnization of the marriage between the parties, the treatment of the wife towards him has been cruel inasmuch as she always adopted disrespectful attitude and misbehaviour towards him. She used foul, filthy and abusive language towards him in the presence of his parents and other persons. She also did not pursue her domestic affairs and during all this time she used to pick up quarrels with her inlaws without any reason or cause. She used to leave the house without the permission and knowledge of the husband on various occasions. She has always been insisting upon the husband to live separately from his parents which the husband could not afford, due to old age of his parents and being their only son. That when the husband-respondent refused to live separately from his parents or to connive at or to submit to the wish of his wife she became more furious and put the husband to disgrace instead of improving her conduct and attitude and thus the wife according to the husband is a quarrelsome, ill mannered and a cruel lady. Her behaviour and attitude has always been injurious to his health and welfare. The insult hurled by the wife at him and his parents has been of such a grave order as to imperil the mental happiness and reputation, and this conduct of the wife, according to the husband amounts to cruelty affecting his mental peace making him unable to perform his official duty properly. It was further alleged that the conduct of the wife also caused reasonable apprehension in the mind of the husband and further living with her would be mental torture. The husband has been tolerating all this conduct of the wife but it became unbearable for him when his wife did not come to condole the death of his father who had died on 9th September 1979. Consequently, the petition for divorce was filed on 24th September, 1979. However, it was also alleged that the wife left the house on 30th April, 1979. While going away, she took away with her the ornaments causing heavy financial loss to him and his parents.

3. The petition was contested on behalf of the wife-appellant. She denied the allegations of her bad conduct and cruelty towards her husband of his parents, as alleged. She stated that she has always been serving the husband and her in-laws and never used any filthy and improper language and she never picked up quarrel with her in-laws or with her husband. According to her the real bone of contention is that the husband is in the habit of taking liquor and she used to request him to give up this habit but he used to take it ill and rebuke her. In spite of that she kept on requesting him with folded hands to desist from taking liquor in order to maintain the respect of the family. Ultimately according to her on 2nd May, 1979, the husband gave beating to her and turned her out of the house and threatened that in case she returned back she would be killed. On this unfortunate occasion the husband snatched all her ornaments and clothes and also did not allow her son of 7 years to go with her. So when she was thus compelled to leave the house of her husband she came to Jaipur to his brother’s house and since then she is residing with her brother under compulsion. It was pleaded that the wife was never informed about the death of her father-in-law and so she could not pay a visit. On these pleadings of the parties, the trial Court framed the following issues :

(a) Whether the petitioner is entitled to the decree of divorce on the grounds alleged in the petition ?

(b) Relief.

4. The learned Additional District Judge after going through the entire evidence and appreciating the same came to the conclusion that the husband has succeeded in proving that the wife has committed mental cruelty towards him and he is, therefore, entitled to a decree of divorce. As a result of these findings, a decree of divorce in favour of the husband was passed.

5. Dissatisfied with the same the wife has come up in appeal to this Court.

6. Attempts were made for reconciliation between the parties in this Court. On the last date of hearing, both the parties went away together with an intention to live but it appears that the parties did not live together for a single day. There is an application on the file purported to have been signed by the wife-appellant in which it has been stated that she was not prepared to live with the respondent-husband at any cost. Under these circumstances, there was no option for this Court but to hear the appeal on merits.

7. The learned counsel for the appellant vehemently contended that the findings of the learned Additional District Judge are wrong and illegal. His whole approach it is stated has been with a biased mind towards the wife and her marital duties. In any case according to the learned counsel the facts proved on the record not to constitute cruelty as contemplated S. 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act as to entitle the husband to claim a decree of divorce on that ground. According to the learned counsel, at the most these are wear and tear of married life and could not be held to be the acts of cruelty as to cause reasonable apprehension in the mind of the husband for not living together. In support of his contention he referred to Shri Ashwani Kumar Sehgal v. Smt. Swatantar Sehgal, 1978 HLR 594, Smt. Santosh v. Bharat Bhushan, 1980 HLR 85, Deepak Kumar Arora v. Sampuran Arora, I (1981) DMC 55=19 (1981) DLT 13 (SN), Madanlal Sharma v. Smt. Santosh Sharma, I (1981) DMC 175, Mst. Chhitro v. Ram Lal, 1978 HLR 651, Sqr. Ldr. J.S. Sodhi v. Amarjit Kaur, 1981 HLR 331, and Dhoom Kali v. S.L. Yadav and another, I (1982) DMC 412.

8. It was also next contended that in any case the husband has condoned the conduct of his wife and, therefore, the petition as such was not maintainable. In support of this contention he relied upon Dr. N.G. Dastane v. Mrs. S. Dastane, I (1981) DMC 293 (SC), Smt. Santosh v. Bharat Bhushan, 1980 HLR 85, Sqr. Ldr. J.S. Sodhi v. Amarjit Kaur, 1981 HLR 331. On the other hand the learned counsel for the husband-respondent submitted that it will be a question of fact in each case as to whether the particular conduct amounts to cruelty or not. In the present case, according to the learned counsel, it has been amply proved on the record that whole conduct of the wife-appellant is such that it has become impossible for the husband to lead a happy marital life with the appellant-wife. There was no question of any condonation in the present case according to the learned counsel. As a matter of fact he has been waiting and tolerating the conduct of his wife but ultimately when he found her conduct to as such that it was no more possible to continue with her, he filed the present petition for divorce. According to the learned counsel the authorities relied upon by the appellant fully support the case of the husband and do not go contrary to his claim. In addition thereto he also relied upon Krishna Rani v. Chuni Lal Gulati, I (1982) DMC 169 (DB), and Shri Amrik Singh P.G.S. v. Smt. Surjit Kaur, 1975 Curr.LJ 360.

9. I have heard the learned counsel for the parties and have gone through the evidence on the record. The husband in order to prove his allegations has produced one Smt. Gaindi AW2, who is the neighbour and has deposed about the behaviour of his wife towards her husband and her father and mother-in-law. He also produced Ram Kali his mother as AW3 who also deposed about the conduct and behaviour of the wife. AW4 Kirori Ram is also another neighbour who deposed about the conduct of the wife-appellant. Asa Ram AW5 is a colleague of the husband working in the same office who has deposed about the mental health of the husband because of the worries on account of marital relations. On the other hand wife has produced her brother Kunj Behari RW2 and her maternal uncle Parma Nand RW3 and one Ramesh RW4, who works as a sweeper in the Mohalla and deposed that the husband used to take liquor. She also produced one Sardara RW5 to depose, that the husband is in the habit of taking liquor. This is the entire evidence on the record led by the parties.

10. According to the wife she was turned out of the house on 2nd May, 1979 after giving her beating whereas according to the husband she left the house on 30th April, 1979 on her own accord without informing her husband or in-laws. According to the wife-appellant she had no money with her at all and had to be borrow Rs. 20/- from one Bhagat Ram who is her relation in order to go to her village. The said Bhagat Ram has not been produced in the witness box. Thus the story put up by the wife that she was turned out of the house on 2nd May, 1979 after giving her beating is not at all proved on the record. There is also no cogent evidence on the record to prove the allegations of the wife that her husband used to take liquor which was the bone of contention according to her. Thus the story put up by the wife is not at all proved. She has not even produced her mother in the witness box to whom she must have narrated the whole story as alleged by her. As regards the case set up by the husband that the conduct of his wife was such that it had become impossible for him to continue with her, it has been proved on the record by the statement of his mother Ram Kali AW3 and Smt. Gaindi, AW2 and Kirori Ram AW4. The trial Court believed this evidence and I do not find any infirmity or illegality therein as to interfere with that finding in appeal. Thus it has been proved on the record that the conduct of the wife has been such throughout from the very beginning that it compelled the respondent to run to the Court with his divorce petition when he found her conduct more insulting and arrogant even at Jaipur where she was living with her parents. The further insulting incident was that the wife did not attend even the funeral ceremony of her father-in-law who died on 9th September, 1979. According to her she could not go because she was never informed by her husband about the death of her father-in-law. This under the circumstances could not be believed because it has been admitted by Parma Nand RW3, who is the maternal uncle of the wife that he alongwith his sister i.e. the mother of the wife attended the 13th day ceremony of her husband’s father. Though according to him they came to know because in their neighbourhood the maternal uncle of the husband resides from whom they got this information. However, this can be hardly believed that if the mother and the maternal uncle of the wife knew about the death of her father-in-law and even they attended the 13th day ceremony, the wife did not come to know of the death at all. According to her she came to know for the first time when the present petition for divorce was filed which can be hardly believe. It may be that this single incident by itself may not amount to cruelty as such, but taking into consideration the totality of the circumstances and the conduct of the wife throughout from the very beginning of the marriage, it does prove that her conduct has been blame worthy to such an extent that she even did not attend the funeral ceremony of her father-in-law. This certainly hurt the feelings and sentiments of her husband and it appears that on that account the present petition for divorce was filed immediately within a month thereto.

11. Strong reliance has been placed by the learned counsel for the appellant Madan Lal Sharma’s case (supra) wherein it has been held that concept of cruelty has been made more stringent by the recent amendment of the Act and it no longer means that as soon as allegation of cruelty, which though is opposed, is made, the prayer for dissolution of marriage or divorce has to be accepted. Cruelty it is submitted in such cases has to be of the type which should satisfy the conscience of the Court to believe that the relations between the parties had deteriorated to such an extent due to the conduct of one of the spouses that it has become impossible for them to live together without mental agony, torture or distress. Though the word cruelty has not been defined in the Act not in such cases, atleast, it should be of a type, from which a reasonable and prudent man would be satisfied that the atmosphere in the house of the parties is so surcharged that it is not conducive for the mental or physical health of the either spouse to live together. For this the picture of domestic life of the spouses must be surveyed as a whole before any judgment can be formed to justify the prayer made for divorce. The legal conception of cruelty comprises of two distinct elements that is the ill treatment complained of and resultant danger or apprehension flowing from it.

12. There cannot be any dispute with the proposition of law laid down therein but as stated earlier it will depend upon the facts of each case as to whether in the given circumstances, the conduct alleged, amounts to cruelty or not. The expression cruelty has also been considered in Amrik Singh’s case (supra). It has been held therein that the expression cruelty is not confined to physical violence but conceives of mental cruelty as well. Mental cruelty has to be of such a kind as to make the complaining spouse’s continued association with the other spouse unsafe for his/her mental and physical health. In that case it was found that the wife appeared to be arrogant and temperamental lady and that her misbehaviour which consisted of total disrespect towards her husband and the members of his family and disliking, constant nagging and taunts towards husband, and his family caused untold mental agony to him. It has also been observed in Dr. N.G. Dastane’s case (supra) in para 55 of the report thereof that ‘Cruelty’ generally does not consist of a single isolated act but consists in most cases of a series of acts spread over a period of time.

13. The second contention raised on behalf of the appellant is that in any case, present is a case of condonation and therefore the husband-respondent is not entitled to the decree of divorce, is also not sustainable. Condonation means forgiveness of the matrimonial offence and the restoration of offending spouse to the same position as he or she occupied before the offence was committed. As held in Dr. N.G. Dastane’s case (supra) the mere fact that the spouses continued to share a common home during or for some time after the spell of cruelty is not sufficient to prove condonation. As a matter of fact the husband in the present case expected that by lapse of time the wife may mend her ways but her habits continue as such and ultimately when she did not attend even the funeral ceremony of her father-in-law, he filed the present petition for seeking divorce. Law does not require that at the first appearance of a cruel etc. the other spouse must leave the matrimonial home lest the continued cohabitation be construed as condonation. Such a construction will hinder reconciliation and thereby frustrate the benign purpose of marriage laws.

14. From the conduct of the wife during the period she remained with her husband and even during the efforts made for re-conciliation in this Court, it appears that she is not reconciling but persists in her cruel behaviour towards her husband. The matrimonial home has already broken because she is living separately since 1979 and is not prepared even now to live with her husband as found from her conduct during reconciliation-efforts. A son born out of this wed-lock, is living with his father and the appellant never made any effort to get the custody of her child or otherwise took any steps to show her inclination of love and affection towards him.

15. As a result of the above discussion, the appeal fails and is dismissed with no order as to costs.

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