After divorce by mutual consent and no reservation of liberty by wife to continue further proceedings, wife estopped from continuing cruelty proceedings: SC [Read the Judgment]

After divorce by mutual consent and no reservation of liberty by wife to continue further proceedings, wife estopped from continuing cruelty proceedings: SC [Read the Judgment]

Setting aside an order of the Allahabad High Court which had remanded a case back to the trial Court, noticing harassment, cruelty and mental torture, a Supreme Court Bench comprising of Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice A.K. Goel observed that, “Once the matter was settled between the parties and the said settlement was given effect to in the form of divorce by mutual consent, no further dispute survived between the parties, though it was not so expressly recorded in the order of this Court. No liberty was reserved by the wife to continue further proceedings against the husband. Thus, the wife was, after settling the matter, estopped from continuing the proceedings.”

The appeal was filed against the Judgment of the Allahabad High Court in 2002, through which, the High Court had allowed the revision petition filed by the respondent, setting aside the order passed by the Judicial Magistrate, Ghaziabad and remanded the matter back to the Trial Court for fresh decision in accordance with law.

The question for consideration was whether in exercise of revisional jurisdiction, the High Court was justified in setting aside the acquittal of the appellant, having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case.

The appellant had submitted that the parties had taken divorce by mutual consent as per agreement reached before this Court and thereafter, the respondent was not justified in proceeding against the appellant. It was further submitted that the High Court failed to advert to the settlement between the parties and also exceeded its jurisdiction in setting aside the order of acquittal.

The respondent had however submitted that even though the parties had remarried after obtaining divorce by mutual consent as noticed above, the wife was not debarred from pursuing the criminal case against the appellant.

Agreeing with the appellant, the Court observed, “Once the matter was settled between the parties and the said settlement was given effect to in the form of divorce by mutual consent, no further dispute survived between the parties, though it was not so expressly recorded in the order of this Court. No liberty was reserved by the wife to continue further proceedings against the husband. Thus, the wife was, after settling the matter, estopped from continuing the proceedings.”

The appellant and respondent tied the knot on 25th January, 1996. A divorce petition was filed by the husband in November 1997. The wife thereafter lodged First Information Report dated 4th November, 1997 at Ghaziabad making allegations of cruelty against the husband.

After investigation, the husband and four of his family members were tried under Sections 498-A, 406, 506 IPC and 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act before the Judicial Magistrate, Ghaziabad. The trial ended in acquittal of all the accused.

A decree of divorce was then passed by Family Court Jabalpur on 4th April, 2005 after recording the statement of the parties that they mutually agreed to decree of divorce. The wife at that time did not press her counter claim for maintenance. She also did not reserve liberty for any other action against the husband.

Read the Judgment here

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