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Bench: JUSTICE K.L. Manjunath & S.N. Satyanarayana


Law Point:
Spouse, well educated, responsible, well natured in general sense, abusing the other spouse, physically and mentally, humiliating, using filthy language in front of family members, relatives and mistaking for unintentional deeds. This would amount to cruelty.





Respondent is M.C. 1310/02 is challenging the decree of divorce date 19.12.2005 granted in M.C. No. 1310/2002 on the file of the II Additional Principal Judge, Family Court, Bangalore, dissolving the marriage between himself and his wife petitioner in the said proceedings. The Judgment and Decree dated 19.12.2005 is a common judgment in M.C. No. 1310/2002 filed by the wife seeking decree of divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act and O.S. No. 75/2003 also filed by the wife seeking decree of injunction against her husband restraining him from making false and defamatory statements against her in respect of their marital relationship. The Respondent husband in the proceeding is challenging the Judgment and Decree passed in M.C. No. 1310/2002 only. For the sake of convenience, parties herein, are referred to by their status in M.C. Petition in the Family Court.

2. The facts leading to this appeal are, petitioner is wife respondent is her husband. They are Hindus, their marriage was solemnised on 9.10.2000. The petitioner and respondent are well educated, qualified doctors in medicine, At the time of the marriage respondent was employed as a doctor in Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology in Trivandrum and petitioner was just a house wife; The matrimonial house was set up in Trivendrum. Subsequently in August 2001, petitioner was also appointed as doctor in the same institute.

3. The case of the petitioner is after the marriage initially she and her husband were leading happy and comfortable married life, though her husband is short tempered and would get upset over small things in life. According to her, the misunderstanding started with the desire to purchase a second hand Maruthi Car for their use. On her suggestion Respondent purchased a car for Rs. 1,00,000 which belonged to company run by her father’s friend and the said car was used by her father. Though the car was sold for Rs. 1,00,000, company issued receipt for Rs. 1,50,000, for the reason, as on the date of sale book value of the car was Rs. 1.50,000. According to petitioner it is a minor financial arrangement. The respondent after coming to know of the same created commotion, abused petitioner, her parents accusing them for giving dowry clandestinely without his knowledge. Immediately he paid the difference of Rs. 50,000 to her father, which was accepted by him to avoid confrontation or unpleasant situation with son-in-law. After this incident on any given occasion respondent would take that as an example to show the petitioner and her parents in poor light and call them untrustworthy people who try to influence others with money.

4. That respondent would flareup for all wrong reasons, would misbehave with her, deliberately insult her in front of family friends, he physically assaulted her on innumerable occasions, would not spare any moment to be little her, in the company of her friends and relatives. She tried to substantiate the same, with following few incidents, (1) During Dasara Festival they were coming to Bangalore, she had packed boiled eggs with other food items, but forgot to pack salt and pepper, noticing the same respondent shouted at her, called her inefficient before their friends. (2) On another occasion concerning sticker used for number plate of car. he picked up quarrel and slapped her in front of his mother and sister. (3) During November 2001 her brother came to see her from USA, respondent did not speak to him on the date when he was going back. (4) Respondent instructed her to book an air-ticket, when she asked through which agency tickets to be booked, he flared up, shouted at her using foul language, not only abused her, also her father and brother with reference to car incident and declared that he has absolutely no trust either with petitioner or any of her family members. (5) In December 2001, in Jayanagar Shopping Complex, respondent picked up quarrel with her and called her name before the parking attendant and abused her parents for not bringing her up properly. (6) On the same day even though she was not keeping good health due to pregnancy, he forcibly took her with him in the car, went on quarrelling with her on the way and caused a minor accident and held her responsible for the commotion as she did not assist him in driving a portion of the distance as a dutiful wife and called her bitch and other objectionable words. (7) On one occasion, when she left tool kit in the car, he got angry and punched her on the face, squeezed her neck and gave her a back handed slap for not washing the clothes properly. (8) He would refuse to employ maid servant as he did not want to spend even when she was sick due to pregnancy. (9) Respondent had opened a joint account of himself and petitioner, her entire salary would be used to clear his loans, because of his attitude she was scared to assert herself. (10) In Railway Station or Bus Stand he would carry all luggage, he would not buy newspaper for reading at home. (11) During February 2002 when parents of his close friend needed tickets to Bangalore under senior citizen’s category, she secured tickets, but she forgot to return voter’s ID by oversight, respondent got angry at 8.00 O’clock in the night, he took her to their house to return the same, on the way, he kept on abusing her and behaved like a mad man. (12) On another occasion, when he was coming back from Bombay to Bangalore, where she was residing at that time, she was not able to go to airport to bring him, instead respondent’s sister had to go leaving her child at home. This also caused him to loose his cool and abuse the petitioner as bitch and other foul words. (13) When she was pregnant he never permitted her to consult a Gynecologist as it would cost money and he would not allow her to go back to her parents house for a break. (14) Respondent’s family members also did not support her at any point of time. They did not enquire with her about her health welfare, they were supportive of their son.

5. Hence, the petitioner felt that she should go back to her parents house. Even after coming to parents house, the respondent went on calling her and abusing her, it was the wish of respondent that she should abort the pregnancy. It is stated by the petitioner that the pregnancy got terminated by itself due to turmoil she underwent at the hands of the respondent. After she came back to her parents house, respondent sent a letter on 20.8.2002 raising false allegations against her that she ran away with someone, causing harassment and interference which resulted in the inquiry to be conducted by Sub-Inspector of Police, Basavanagudi Police Station and the respondent sent several letters containing defamatory and injurious statements to different people known to the petitioner’s family with the intention to harass, defame and damage her image, reputation in the eyes of her employers, friends and acquaintance. He sent the unsigned letter dated 16.9.2002 to her parents, wherein he had referred to the parents of the petitioner, as ‘thick-skinned’, ‘wretched’, ‘mentally sick’ and also accused them of harassing him for not accepting dowry and accused them of guilty of killing foetus in the womb by abortion. Copies of defamatory letter were sent to her father as well as her father’s friend and to the President, Secretary of the Residents Association of his father’s apartment building, to the Medical Superintendent of the Hospital, where she was working. According to her all these letters are unsigned and were sent by the respondent. She further states that there were several letters from others claiming to be the sympathisers of respondent and intending to offer their daughter to him and accusing the respondent for unnecessarily harassing the petitioner, an honest and upright man.

6. With this background, the petitioner felt that there is no safety for her to continue to live with him in the matrimonial house, felt the best option available to her is to secure a decree of divorce from him. Hence filed this M.C., petition. Along with this petition she also filed a suit against the respondent for an order of permanent injunction restraining him from making any false and defamatory statement against her in regard to her matrimonial relationship with him.

7. In both the proceedings, her husband was duly served, he entered appearance, filed his objections, admitted the marriage and also the incident of purchasing the car. However, he denied the averment of the petitioner that at the time of purchase of the car, he is in debts concerning the marriage as well as renovation of his house. It is his case that he purchased the car at the instance of the petitioner by paying Rs. 1,00,000 and Rs. 20,000 in addition to the father-in-law for the purpose of delivering the car by signing the Delivery Note in April 2001. According to him, he accidentally discovered the final sale receipt while going through the car papers and came to know that the sale price was Rs. 1,50,000 as indicated in the sale receipt. On enquiry, he came to know about the value of the car, that was the cause for some misunderstanding between them for the reason it defied reasonable logic as to how the sale receipt could contain some amount which is actually not paid by him. He felt there was some mediator on behalf of the petitioner’s father and the concerned company to misuse the name of the respondent which in the process hurt the respondent, he felt cheated and insulted. According to him, it is an attempt on the part of the petitioner and her parents to give him dowry in such a despicable manner. The whole incident forced him to make arrangements for a sum of Rs. 50,000, pay the same and save his self respect. According to respondent, petitioner is also a party to this deal, she being a responsible lady should have shown more maturity in dealing with such matter, he felt deeply hurt and deceived. However, he denies the allegation of abuse, anger and violence against petitioner as false. According to the respondent, he treated all problems minor or major as issue based events, instead of he raising the matter involving the car, it is the petitioner who always shouted at the respondent and deliberately insulted him whenever there was minor problems within the marital life. He has denied that he has accused the petitioner as unworthy of his trust and he also denied the allegation that the respondent flared up in the matter connected with pepper and salt not being carried along with boiled egg in a trip from Trivandrum to Bangalore and he specifically denies having physical assault to the petitioner at any time during the marital life with her. He also states that whenever the relatives and friends has come to him, he has treated them with utmost care including her brother, her parents and everybody. He has received them, treated them by taking them to various sight seeing places and dropped them to the airport. He also assisted them in taking air-tickets through his credit card and he says that he has given the credit card to the petitioner to be used for her personal use, he has denied having abused any member of the petitioners’ family; denied the allegations that he was drinking heavily and occasionally he used to sleep separately getting annoyed with the petitioner and that he never came in the way of her intimate relationship with her parents, brother and others in her family. With these pleadings and also the pleadings that is there in the original suit, the Court below framed the following common issues in both the matters:

(1) Whether the petitioner is entitled to a decree of divorce against the respondent husband?

(2) Whether the plaintiff/petitioner is entitled to permanent injunction against the respondent/defendant as sought for?

(3) What decree or order?

8. In the Court below common evidence was recorded, the petitioner got herself examined as P.W.1 and relied upon 18 documents, which were marked as Exs. P-1 to P-18, She examined her mother as P.W.2 and friend of her father K.Narayan as P.W.3. Respondent in support of his case, examined himself as R.W.1 and produced and marked 48 documents as Exs. R-1 to R-48. Thereafter the Court below after hearing both the parties and on going through the evidence, documents and pleadings on record, answered Issue Nos. 1 and 2 in the affirmative and consequently allowed both M.C. No. 1310/2002 for divorce and O.S. No. 75/2003 for an order of temporary injunction against the respondent.

9. Respondent being aggrieved by the common Judgment and Decree passed in M.C. No. 1310/2002, has filed this appeal challenging the decree of divorce granted in the said petition on the following grounds:

That the Court below, did not pass necessary orders on I.As. 4 and 5 filed by the appellant in M.C. No. 1310/2002 for an order of temporary injunction restraining the defendant from uttering defamatory statements amongst professional and for prosecuting the respondents in a Criminal Court for obtaining an abortion and the Trial Court failed to exercise jurisdiction vested in it under Section 7 of the Family Courts Act, 1984.

10. That the Judgment and Decree passed by the Court below without considering the statement of objections of the appellant as well as the evidence on record and that the. Court below committed a blunder by relying upon anonymous letters alleged to have been written by the appellant to the respondent, to grant a decree of divorce. The Court below committed a serious error in assuming that the appellant had indulged in vindictive acts by lodging a complaint against the respondent before the Medical Council of India. That the Trial Court has committed an error in holding that the appellant had shown no interest in reconciliation. In fact it is the appellant who offer reconciliation, which was turned down by the respondent. The Court below also committed an error in holding that “the evidence further disclose that the respondent had exhibited uncontrolled temperament towards the petitioner on several occasions which are admitted by the respondent” which according to the appellant is totally incorrect and that no such admission was made by him. The appellant states that the Court below has not appreciated evidence, which clearly discloses that the appellant, who took her to all places of visit and gave her all liberty in life including consumption of non-vegetarian food, which is not permitted in their community and also granting permission to her to consume alcohol and not objected for removing the auspicious Mangal Suthra and finger-ring and also the fact that he used to cook food on several occasion and taking care of the respondent and permitting the exclusive use of the car by the respondent and using a scooter for himself which are all admitted by the petitioner herself in the course of her examination, is not looked into by the Court below. All other things which are accepted by the petitioner in the course of her examination is not looked into and it is only few incidents which are said to have taken place and it is not supported by any evidence are accepted and the Court below has jumped into the conclusion that the appellant herein is highly temperamental and has decreed the petition filed by his wife seeking decree of divorce.

11. In the said appeal, notice was issued to the respondent/wife. She entered appearance through Counsel. On the basis of the grounds urged in the appeal memo and after looking into the evidence recorded by the Court below and the documents produced therein, the point that arise for consideration in this appeal are:

(1) Whether there was sufficient material made available by the respondent herein to secure a decree of divorce under the provisions of Section 13(l)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act to establish that the appellant herein treated her cruelly and that she was entitled to a decree of divorce from the appellant herein?

(2) What Order?

After hearing the arguments of both the Counsel and on perusal of the evidence and documents available on record, this Court answered the aforesaid point for consideration in the affirmative. Consequently the appeal filed by the husband is dismissed and the Judgment granting decree of divorce by the II Additional Principal Judge, Family Court, Bangalore, in M.C. No. 1310/2002 is confirmed for the following:


12. The dispute between the parties herein revolve around misunderstanding developing from not understanding each other and having egoistic approach in every single matter in the family. Admittedly, parties to this proceedings are highly qualified Doctors in medicine. As could be seen from the pleadings, the appellant herein claims himself to be highly principled, opposed to accepting dowry and believing in the principles of equal right to man and woman in certain aspects, i.e., in not accepting to purchase car through his father-in-law for under-rated value and also though coming from a conservative Brahmin community allowing his wife to remove Mangal suthra, to eat non vegetarian food, consume alcohol and all other liberated ways of living.

13. However, when each allegation made by wife is looked into and assessed at the background of the case, it is seen that though outwardly the husband proclaims and believes that he gives equal respect to his wife his conduct in flaunting his openness and liberated attitude towards wife in the presence of his in-laws and friends and while trying to do so to humiliate his wife and not caring for her feelings definitely not augur well in any marriage. In the instant case, the wife who is respondent herein has sought for decree of divorce against her husband on the ground of cruelty. The word cruelty according to Black’s Law Dictionary is as under:

“Cruelty—The intentional and malicious infliction of mental or physical suffering on a living creature, esp. a human; abusive treatment; outrage.”

The word cruelty is also classified under different heads. Out of that the definition of three heads of cruelty is essential for the case on hand. They are:

(1) “Legal cruelty—Cruelty that will justify granting a divorce to the injured party; specif., conduct by one spouse that endangers the life, person, or health of the other spouse, or creates a reasonable apprehension of bodily or mental harm.

(2) Mental cruelty—As a ground for divorce, one spouse’s course of conduct (not involving actual violence) that creates such anguish that it endangers the life, physical health, or mental health of the other spouse.

(3) Physical cruelty—As a ground for divorce, actual personal violence committed by one spouse against the other.”

14. In the instant case the marriage between parties has taken place on 9.10.2000. They have stayed together nearly for about 2 years. In the two years petitioner has given several instances where the conduct of her husband cannot be accepted as normal behaviour between the married couple in a marriage i.e., abusing wife in the presence of her parents, family members and in the presence of friends, relatives and physically abusing her using filthy and abusive language, as alleged by the wife in the petition. Though the appellant herein has denied having behaved in such a manner in his pleadings, in evidence in several occasions he had tried to justify the same as stray instances having taken place as the conduct arising from out of frustration. In any event, in a marriage between the parties an amount of mutual respect and dignity is required to be maintained. Though there is scope for normal wear and tear where people try to vent their ire against each other regarding certain differences between them. It is not permitted for either of them to cross the limit of accepted norms for family life. One such thing is using abusive-language and physically abusing the spouse. In the instant case. petitioner has demonstrated before the Court below through her pleadings and evidence that on more than one occasion the respondent has done that. For example in the matter of transaction between himself and his father-in-law for purchase of car, if it was not agreeable for him the best possible way for him should have been to return the car or to pay the difference money and keep quiet. Taking that as an excuse to abuse the petitioner, her parents and the entire family as dishonest people, he tried to assault them by indirectly saying that they are offering dowry, would definitely amount to cruelty. Further talking ill of the wife in the presence of outsiders, though they are friends, and trying to highlight the small mistakes done by her and also physically assault his wife in front of others, also amounts to cruelty.

15. In the instant case, there were several instances where the wife has demonstrated that respondent being unreasonable to her. i.e.. in the matter of abusing her in the presence of his friends for not carrying salt and pepper for boiled egg, picking up quarrel in the parking lot. using abusive language in the public against wife, picking up quarrel for a small thing like not keeping the tool kit in car and pinching her in the face squeezing her neck with a back handed slap, would all definitely amount to cruelty. Further using abusive language against her when she forget to return the ID card to his friends parents. Using abusive language when she was not able to pick him in the air port when he came from Bombay, not permitting her to have a maid servant at home, not permitting her to consult Gynaecologist during her pregnancy, not giving her liberty to utilise the money earned by her and forcing her to put the same into a joint account and not permitting her to go to her parents house during her pregnancy. All these instances cannot be singularly considered as trivial and an innocuous behaviour on the part of the spouse, but collectively they would definitely amount to cruelty.

16. As stated supra, the meaning of Cruelty in Black’s Law Dictionary under the three essential heads which are culled out as above would give right to the wronged spouse to secure divorce under the ground cruelty. In the instant case, though the respondent/husband has shown all the love and affection that a responsible husband is required show towards his wife, i.e., in purchasing a car to appease her, permitting her to exclusively operate the account by opening a joint account in her name, allowing her to deposit, to have access to his salary along with her, permitting her to lead the life the way she like compromising the values and principles cherished in their community like removal of Mangal Suthra, bringing non vegetarian food to home and eating it and consuming alcohol. Though all these things are considered as a concession or considered as benevolent gesture on the part of respondent/husband. Similarly his conduct in abusing her using bad and filthy language, assaulting her and humiliating her in the presence of her family members, friends, relatives and mistaking her for unintentional deeds would definitely amount to cruelty.

17. Further, in this case the husband in his letter dated 28.2.2002 has made false and reckless allegations against the wife that she has runaway with some one resulting in inquiry to be conducted by the police. This conduct on the part of the husband is unpardonable. Whatever the amount of freedom and liberty that he had given to his wife and the facilities provided would not take away the guilt of making a false allegation against his wife. In the proceedings before the Court below he has miserably failed to plead and establish that petitioner/wife is a woman of questionable character and capable of going out of matrimonial house with some one, as such an allegation of this nature would be shocking to anybody. More so, to a woman who is brought up in an environment not being used to such kind of treatment. Further, the respondent/husband also has extended that by writing anonymous letters to petitioners’ father, his friends, to the friends and superiors of petitioner and neighbours in the apartment/complex where they reside regarding the conduct, behaviour of petitioner would certainly put not only the petitioner but also her family members into embarrassing situation in the society. All these conduct of respondent/husband definitely amounts to mental cruelty and as well as legal cruelty as defined supra, which entitles the wife to seek decree of divorce.

18. The Court below has given its anxious consideration to the entire pleading and evidence available on record, after assessing the same has rightly come to the conclusion that the conduct of the husband would definitely amount to cruelty and the petitioner cannot be expected to live with a man of such volatile temper. If a person, however good he may be, is not in a position to control his temper and due to the fit of anger could raise his voice and as well as hand against his spouse would definitely put a-threat to his spouse. In the instant case, though the respondent a well educated, responsible, well natured person in general sense, in his relationship with his wife to assert himself he has abused his wife both physically and mentally. which definitely amounts to cruelty as contemplated under Section 13(l)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act. Hence, the Court below has rightly allowed the petition filed by wife under the aforesaid provision and this Court find that there is no justification to interfere with the well reasoned judgment and decree passed by the Court below in allowing the petition filed by the wife for decree of divorce.

19. Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed without any order as to costs. Consequently the judgment and decree passed in M.C. No. 1310/2002 on the file of II Additional Principal Judge, Family Court, is confirmed.

Appeal dismissed.

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