Court: Punjab And Haryana High Court
Bench: JUSTICE M.M. Punchhi
Shashi Lata Sharma Vs. Chetan Sarup On 25 April 1984
Section 13(1)(ia) and 20(2) — Husband’s petition for divorce on ground of wife’s cruelty granted by Trial Court — Appeal against by wife — Appellate Court finding wife leaving matrimonial home 12 days after marriage with jwellery and dowry articles — Thereafter followed series of offensive and defensives — Evidence and pleadings of wife’s cruelty.
1. The tug of war in this matrimonial appeal is rather acrimonious. Both the parties to the marriage have blamed each other for its going to the rocks. It is incidental that the husband filed the petition for divorce on the grounds of desertion and cruelty but was successful in establishing cruelty alone The aggrieved wife has approached this Court in appeal. The effort on either side has been to highlight the wrongs of the other and to suppress one’s own part.
2. Shashi Lata Sharma appellant was married to Chetan Sarup respondent on 12-2-1979 at Patiala. Shashi Lata was a Clerk employed in a village school in district Patiala. At that time Chetan Sarup had a small electronics business at Ambala. Later he gave it up as he got employment in the National Fertilizers Limited as a Clerk. Customarily, the wife was brought to Ambala on marriage. According to the husband, she was there for about ten days in all and during that time she was found to be suffering from a venereal disease, repulsive to sexual intercourse, permitted him sexual intercourse with contraceptives and prone to go in tantrums reflective of psychopathic disorders in her mental make up. After that duration, it is suggested that her father came to Ambala and took her away as also most of her jewellery articles at a time when the husband was not in the house. The act of removal of such articles on a truck was deposed to by Satya Prakash P.W.3, the adjoining neighbour at Ambala. Sometimes thereafter the husband alleges that he made two attempts to have his wife back but to no avail and rather at Patiala he was threatened for being falsely implicated in a criminal case as otherwise put to harm. Then in sequal, a false criminal case was filed by the wife against him, his mother, bother’s wife under sections 382/342/504/506/323, Indian Penal Code, in a criminal Court at Patiala based on an occurrence said to have taken place at Patiala on 17-3-1980. The aforesaid four persons were summoned and had to face the inquiry proceedings but were ultimately discharged on 25-11-1981 vide order, Annexure P. 1. The act of filing the false complaint and the harassment suffered thereon as also the precedent behaviour of the wife were instances of cruelty on the strength of which the husband claimed divorce.
3. The wife, on the other hand, denied the allegations in the divorce petition. She claimed that earlier to the present petition, a divorce petition has been filed by the husband against her on the basis of being afflicted by venereal disease and being a psychopathic case. She was examined at the instance of the husband by a doctor and was certified to be perfect in order of health. According to her, the said petition was withdrawn by the husband though of course with the liberty to file a fresh one on the cause of action. But the real grouse was that the husband was jobless at the time of the marriage and he was insisting on her to get him a job at Patiala, which she did but that was for a short duration.
4. Nothing hinges on the case set up by the parties on the ground of desertion and so pleadings in that regard are bye passed. The sole issue was whether the husband was entitled to a decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty. The evidence led by the husband was mainly his own statement as P.W.1, that of a friend Surinder Kumar P.W. 2 in whom he confined his discord with his wife immediately after his marriage and Satya Prakash P.W.3. the neighbour. On the other hand, the evidence of the wife comprised of herself as R.W. 1 supported by her father Ram Prakash R.W. 2. She brought in evidence letters, Exhibits R. 1 to R. 5, R. 7 and R. 8 purported to have been written by the husband to her showing that he had to deal with certain girls who had been coming to him for receiving coaching and according to her it was reflective of his interest in other girls imputing him with unfaithfulness. In the evidence, the husband introduced that he too had filed a complaint against the wife, her father, mother and a neighbour in the Court of Judicial Magistrate at Ambala which kept pending for two years and was dismissed a couple of days prior to his examination in Court. The wife introduced in her evidence Exhibit R. 6 which was the statement of the husband in the former divorce proceedings.
5. As is plain, the parties had filed cross-complaints against each other involving others as well. The husband had accused the wife of being inflicted with a venereal disease as also psychopathic disorders though proved to be wrong. The wife, on the other hand, imputed unfaithfulness to the husband on the basis of letters. Exhibit R. 3 & R. 8, and those too were held to be innocent documents on which no such insinuation could be made. The learned trial Judge, however, treated the filing of the complaint by the wife and order thereon. Exhibit P. 1, to be symbolic of mental cruelty to the husband. Besides that he also took into account the factum of leveling false allegations of unfaithfulness on the husband too as an instance of mental cruelty.
6. The learned counsel for the appellant has contended that it was not the case of the husband that he stood accused of unfaithfulness by his wife and on that count the wife was guilty of inflicting on him mental cruelty. According to him, this could not be the basis of the grant of divorce. It is true that this plea was not available to the husband at the time when the petition was filed. It was equally not available to him at the time when the written statement was filed. It cropped up only during examination of the wife where she specifically stated that the husband had illici relations with several girls and they used to come to him under the pretext of receiving coaching. She also drew attention that the husband had imputed her with adultery with one Headmaster.
7. With regard to the acts of cruelty pleaded by the husband in his petition, it is contended that he in his statement on oath in Court, though mentioned about the criminal complaint filed against him did not mention in his statement that he had suffered any mental cruelty on that count. The learned counsel for the respondent, on the other hand, contends that even if the ground of allegations of adultery introduced by the wife in her statement is ignored, the ground of cruelty as originally taken in the petition stood proved and the judgment and decree could be affirmed on that ground atone. He further contended that by virtue of section 20(2) of the Hindu Marriage Act, pleadings in such cases are treated as part of evidence and the husband had specifically stated that he had suffered mental cruelty and harassment on account of false criminal proceedings instituted against him by the wife as also against his relatives.
8. As indicated at the outset, both the parties have levelled allegations against each other; both trying to paint the other as the devil. In that hot air, the sentiment of marriage could not thrive and has completely dried out. Though, as an interim measure, the wife sought from this Court an interim injunction restraining the husband from marrying a second time, he all the same got married before the injunction order was served on him. This is an added complication which has come on the scene. The judgment of the criminal Court, Exhibit P. 1, reveals that according to the wife-complainant, her mother-in-law Kaushalya Devi had come to her house abusing and demanded her ornaments and in that while she was manhandled, given fist blows and threatened to be killed by the accused persons. This obviously is an indication that perhaps the ornaments were with the wife which the mother-in-law wanted back. In this context, the evidence of Satya Prakash P.W. 2 assumes importance who, besides being an immediate neighbour, is a middleaged man of 58 years having two daughters. According to him, the wife had left the matrimonial home after about 12 days of the marriage in the company of her father along with her entire jewellery and dowry articles which were loaded in a truck. I fail to see why should such a neighbour come forward to support the husband in that regard especially when not a word has been suggested to him in cross-examination about any interest subsisting between him and the husband. Neighbours are normally very chary to meddle in others affairs, least of all a father having daughters. Thus, it seems to me that the wife right at the beginning found herself uncomfortable in the house of her husband and possibly pulled by pressures of her job in Patiala did not mentally adjust herself in her matrimonial home which the society and tradition had placed at her disposal. Rest what followed was series of offensives and defensives, as indicated earlier. In this situation, the view taken by the learned trial Judge that the conduct of the wife by instituting a complaint against the petitioner and harassing him was mental cruelty in particularly; besides general attitude of cruelty revealed by the sequence of events. I have gone through the pleadings and the evidence and have not been able to take a different view than the one taken by the learned trial Judge, Accordingly, his finding on cruelty, as suggested by the learned counsel for the respondent, is affirmed.
9. For the view above taken, this appeal fails and is hereby dismissed but without any order as to costs.
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