Court: Madhya Pradesh High Court
Bench: JUSTICE S.K. Gangele & Anurag Shrivastava
Neelima Vs. Dhiraj Singh On 13 December 2017
Mental Cruelty — Wife lodged complaint under Section 498A, IPC against husband and his family members — They were arrested and subsequently acquitted — Conduct of wife amounts to mental cruelty against husband. Trial Court rightly held that appellant-wife caused mental cruelty to respondent-husband — There is also evidence that wife living separately from her husband without any reasonable ground — Trial Court rightly granted decree of divorce in favour of respondent.
1. Appellant has filed this appeal against the judgment dated 19.3.2013 passed by the Family Court in Civil Suit No. 49-A/2011.
2. Plaintiff/ Respondent filed a suit for divorce under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act. He pleaded that marriage of respondent with appellant was solemnized on 22.1.2006 at Mandideep, District Raisen. From their wedlock a son was born. When the plaintiff had gone to the house of defendant/appellant, he was ill-treated. Defendant abused family members of the plaintiff. Defendant lodged report under Section 498-A of IPC against the plaintiff and his family members. On the basis of aforesaid report, plaintiff, his father, mother, brother and his wife were prosecuted for commission of offence punishable under Section 498-A of the IPC.
3. The Trial Court acquitted the family members of the plaintiff vide judgment dated 28.10.2013. The defendant was living separately without any reason for last two years and in spite of his best efforts she did not return back.
4. Defendant/Appellant in her written submission denied the pleadings of the plaintiff/respondent. She pleaded that her parents gave dowry of Rs. 60,000 at the time of marriage, however, after marriage plaintiff made demand of Rs. 5,00,000 cash and Pulsar motor cycle. When the aforesaid demand was not materialized, appellant was ill-treated, she was beaten. The plaintiff was providing coaching in a coaching centre and used to earn Rs. 20,000 to 25,000 per month. The plaintiff filed an application under Section 9 of Hindu Marriage Act and appellant had admitted the fact that she lodged complaint against family members because she was ill-treated. The Trial Court framed issues that whether the appellant was living separately without any reason for last two years and whether she practised cruelty with the plaintiff and whether appellant was forced to leave the matrimonial home.
5. After appreciation of evidence, the Trial Court has held that the appellant was living separately from the plaintiff/respondent for last two years from the date of filing of the suit without any reason and she deserted the respondent. The Trial Court has held that the appellant filed a complaint against the family members of the plaintiff and a case under Section 498-A of IPC was registered against the family members including plaintiff, they were prosecuted, hence, the appellant practised cruelty. On the basis of cruelty, the Trial Court granted a decree of divorce.
6. It is an admitted fact that the appellant lodged complaint against respondent and his family members. On the basis of aforesaid FIR, a criminal case for commission of offence punishable under Section 498-A of IPC was registered against the plaintiff and his family members. They were prosecuted. Plaintiff/husband in his evidence deposed that the family members were handcuffed and they were sent to jail. The appellant abused him before his family members. He further deposed that he filed a suit for restitution of conjugal rights.
7. Appellant examined herself. She denied the fact that she treated the respondent with cruelty. She did not mention the fact that under what circumstances she lodged criminal complaint against respondent and his family members. However, it is an admitted fact that the appellant had lodged complaint. The Trial Court passed judgment in criminal case on 28.10.2013. The Trial Court observed that the appellant failed to prove allegations that any offence was committed by the respondent or his family members punishable under Section 498-A of IPC. The Apex Court in the case of K. Srinivas Rao v. D.A. Deepa, I (2013) DMC 458 (SC)=II (2013) SLT 338=(2013) 5 SCC 226, has considered the fact of lodging criminal complaint without any basis against husband and his family members and trial of family members for commission of offence punishable under Section 498-A of IPC and the fact that whether the aforesaid act of wife amounts to mental cruelty or not under Section 13(i)(i-a) of Hindu Marriage Act. The Apex Court has held as under:
“10. Under Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, a marriage can be dissolved by a decree of divorce on a petition presented either by the husband or the wife on the ground that the other party has, after solemnization of the marriage, treated the petitioner with cruelty. In a series of judgments this Court has repeatedly stated the meaning and outlined the scope of the term ‘cruelty’. Cruelty is evident where one spouse has so treated the other and manifested such feelings towards her or him as to cause in her or his mind reasonable apprehension that it will be harmful or injurious to live with the other spouse. Cruelty may be physical or mental.
11. In Samar Ghosh this Court set out illustrative cases where inference of ‘mental cruelty’ can be drawn. This list is obviously not exhaustive because each case presents its own peculiar factual matrix and existence or otherwise of mental cruelty will have to be judged after applying mind to it. We must quote the relevant paragraph of Samar Ghosh. We have reproduced only the instances which are relevant to the present case.
“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) xxx xxx xxx
(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) xxx xxx xxx
(viii) xxx xxx xxx
(ix) xxx xxx xxx
(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) xxx xxx xxx
(xii) xxx xxx xxx
(xiii) xxx xxx xxx
(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.”
12. It is pertinent to note that in this case the husband and wife had lived separately for more than sixteen and a half years. This fact was taken into consideration along with other facts as leading to the conclusion that matrimonial bond had been ruptured beyond repair because of the mental cruelty caused by the wife. Similar view was taken in Naveen Kohli.
13. In V. Bhagat v. D. Bhagat7 in the divorce petition filed by the husband the wife filed written statement stating that the husband was suffering from mental hallucination, that his was a morbid mind for which he needs expert psychiatric treatment and that he was suffering from ‘paranoid disorder’. In cross-examination her Counsel put several questions to the husband suggesting that several members of his family including his grandfather were lunatics. This Court held that these assertions cannot but constitute mental cruelty of such a nature that the husband cannot be asked to live with the wife thereafter. Such pleadings and questions it was held, are bound to cause immense mental pain and anguish to the husband.
14. In Vijaykumar Bhate disgusting accusations of unchastity and indecent familiarity with a neighbour were made in the written statement. This Court held that the allegations are of such quality, magnitude and consequence as to cause mental pain, agony and suffering amounting to the reformulated concept of cruelty in matrimonial law causing profound and lasting disruption and driving the wife to feel deeply hurt and reasonably apprehend that it would be dangerous to live with her husband.
15. In Naveen Kohli the respondent-wife got an advertisement issued in a national newspaper that her husband was her employee. She got another news item issued cautioning his business associates to avoid dealing with him. This was treated as causing mental cruelty to the husband. In Naveen Kohli the wife had filed several complaints and cases against the husband. This Court viewed her conduct as a conduct causing mental cruelty and observed that:
“82…..The finding of the High Court that these proceedings could not be taken to be such which may warrant annulment of marriage is wholly unsustainable.”
16. Thus, to the instances illustrative of mental cruelty noted in Samar Ghosh, we could add a few more. Making unfounded indecent defamatory allegations against the spouse or his or her relatives in the pleadings, filing of complaints or issuing notices or news items which may have adverse impact on the business prospect or the job of the spouse and filing repeated false complaints and cases in the Court against the spouse would, in the facts of a case, amount to causing mental cruelty to the other spouse. “
16. Pursuant to this complaint, the police registered a case under Section 498-A of the IPC. The appellant-husband and his parents had to apply for anticipatory bail, which was granted to them. Later, the respondent-wife withdrew the complaint. Pursuant to the withdrawal, the police filed a closure report. Thereafter, the respondent-wife filed a protest petition. The Trial Court took cognizance of the case against the appellant-husband and his parents (CC No. 62/2002). What is pertinent to note is that the respondent-wife filed criminal appeal in the High Court challenging the acquittal of the appellant-husband and his parents of the offences under the Dowry Prohibition Act and also the acquittal of his parents of the offence punishable under Section 498A of the IPC. She filed criminal revision seeking enhancement of the punishment awarded to the appellant-husband for the offence under Section 498A of the IPC in the High Court which is still pending. When the criminal appeal filed by the appellant-husband challenging his conviction for the offence under Section 498A of the IPC was allowed and he was acquitted, the respondent-wife filed criminal appeal in the High Court challenging the said acquittal. During this period respondent-wife and members of her family have also filed complaints in the High Court complaining about the appellant-husband so that he would be removed from the job. The conduct of the respondent- wife in filing a complaint making unfounded, indecent and defamatory allegation against her mother-in-law, in filing revision seeking enhancement of the sentence awarded to the appellant-husband, in filing appeal questioning the acquittal of the appellant-husband and acquittal of his parents indicates that she made all attempts to ensure that he and his parents are put in jail and he is removed from his job. We have no manner of doubt that this conduct has caused mental cruelty to the appellant- husband.”
17. The Apex Court has specifically held that if the wife lodges complaint against husband and his parents without any ground and they were prosecuted for commission of offence punishable under Section 498-A of IPC, they were put in jail, subsequently, they were acquitted, the conduct of the wife certainly amounts to mental cruelty against husband. In this view of the matter, in our opinion the Trial Court has rightly held that the appellant caused mental cruelty to the respondent. There is also evidence that the appellant has been living separately from her husband without any reasonable ground.
18. In view of the aforesaid facts of the case, in our opinion, the Trial Court has rightly granted a decree of divorce in favour of the respondent, we do not find any merit in this appeal, it is hereby dismissed. No order as to costs.
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