Ground of ‘Cruelty’ is not wives’ forte anymore, as for last couple of years, Indian Courts are seen granting divorce to husbands from their “cruel” wife. The cruelty imparted by wife towards husband ranges from denial of sex to filing of false complaints.
Apex Court in 2014 made it very categorical that Denial of Sex to Husband for long time without any sufficient Cause amounts to Mental Cruelty. Taking note of frivolous complaints being filed in matrimonial issues, the Apex Court had held that filing a false criminal complaint by either spouse would constitute matrimonial cruelty and entitle the other spouse to claim a divorce. In another context, a bench of Apex Court had remarked dismissing a transfer petition filed by wife “estranged wives seeking transfer of cases, filed by husbands, to their places of residence has become the order of the day. We had become too liberal in acceding to their requests. But the husbands also have a right. Why the husbands should be always made to suffer.”
Following these rulings of the Apex Court, which interpreted cruelty to include false criminal complaints, various High Courts in India have granted husbands divorce from their wives who filed criminal complaints under Section 498A IPC and Domestic Violence Act. Earlier this year, Bombay HC had held that if the complaint filed by the wife against the husband under section 498- A of IPC and other related provisions is dismissed on merits and the husband and his family members are acquitted, then it is clear that the complaint filed by the wife against the husband was a false complaint. In an another judgment, Bombay High Court had held that the husband filing divorce petition, would be no justification for the wife to file criminal cases making wild allegations which she is unable to prove.
Allahabad High Court, two months ago, had made an observation that the mental agony of being arrested and detention in a Section 498A IPC case filed by wife against husband resulting into loss of reputation and prestige in the society would amount to cruelty. In November last year, Orissa High Court had upheld the divorce granted to a husband whose wife had left home in pursuit of her political ambition and wife living separately from her husband and children, for pursuing her political ambition constitute desertion. Quashing a crime registered under section 498-A against a Husband, the High Court of Madhya Pradesh, Jabalpur bench had held that if there are no specific and credible allegations against the relatives of the husband with necessary particulars, they should not be made to suffer the ignominy of a criminal trial. Recently, Delhi High Court, dismissing appeal by a wife, upheld the view adopted by the family court, observing that wife taunting and assaulting husband for not being able to satisfy sexual desire are grave and weighty matrimonial offences/misconducts.
It is apparent that penal and matrimonial laws are tilted in favour of women. Such presumptions against husbands and sympathies towards wives is not unnatural or misplaced, given a patriarchal society we live in. But too much generalization, is not justice.