27 Sep 2023 4:29 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court has observed that making friends at workplace or otherwise when both husband and wife have been living separately due to work exigencies cannot be termed as cruelty. A division bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Neena Bansal Krishna observed that a person who is living alone may find solace by having friends, and merely because such individual used to talk...
The Delhi High Court has observed that making friends at workplace or otherwise when both husband and wife have been living separately due to work exigencies cannot be termed as cruelty.
A division bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Neena Bansal Krishna observed that a person who is living alone may find solace by having friends, and merely because such individual used to talk to friends can neither be held to be an act of ignoring the spouse nor a cruel act.
The court was dealing with a wife’s appeal challenging a family court order granting divorce to the husband on the ground of desertion and cruelty by her.
The husband contended that being an Army Officer, he used to get posted at different places, but the wife never displayed any inclination to join him at his place of work. Immediately after the marriage, the wife had gone to the matrimonial home and stayed with her in-laws, and subsequently she went to live with her parents, he said.
The wife claimed that the husband had no intention of being in a matrimonial relationship with her and that he purposely chose not to apply for a family accommodation while he was posted in Kasauli.
On the wife’s assertion that he used to be withdrawn whenever she visited the husband as he would remain busy on phone with his friends, both male and female, the bench said,
“It has to be appreciated that both the parties having been essentially living separately because of their work exigencies, were bound to make friends at their place of work and otherwise; and such friendships without anything more, cannot be termed as cruelty.”
The bench partly modified the impugned order and set aside the divorce granted on the ground of desertion but, it upheld it on the ground of cruelty by wife.
On wife’s allegation that the husband was in a habit of consuming alcohol daily, the court said,
“Merely because a person consumes alcohol daily, does not make him an alcoholic nor does it add up to a bad character especially when there is no other incident asserted to have happened on account of consumption of alcohol by the respondent.”
The wife also alleged that the husband was in an illicit relationship with another lady. On this, the court noted that during her cross-examination, she stated that despite the husband’s conduct of being an alleged drunkard, chain smoker and being involved with another lady, she was prepared to live with him.
“She, thus, acquiesced to this brief escapade of respondent and the appellant cannot claim advantage under Section 23 (1) (a) of the Act, 1955 as it cannot be held that the respondent is taking advantage of his own wrong,” the court said.
It added, “Once an act which lasted for a short while had been condoned, it cannot be taken as an act of cruelty while deciding the petition for divorce. The things could have been different had it been a turning point in the relations between the parties which otherwise also were not too platonic.”
Furthermore, the bench said that the minor child was not only totally alienated, but was also used as a weapon by the wife against the father.
The court observed that nothing can be more painful for a parent to see the child drifting away and being totally against the father. It noted that the father never failed to provide for the child either for her education or otherwise or to provide army facilities as were available.
“The learned Principal Judge, Family Courts has, therefore, rightly concluded that such child alienation is an extreme act of mental cruelty towards a father who has never shown any neglect for the child,” the court said.
It added, “Once vindictiveness has crept in and the appellant had marched on to the war path filed only complaints in the Department but also initiated various civil/legal cases since 2011, i.e., for about 12 years and has even alienated the daughter from the respondent, it leads to irresistible conclusion that various acts of cruelty have been committed towards the respondent.”
Advocate Anu Narula appeared for the appellant.
Advocate Arvind Chaudhary appeared for the respondent.
Case Title: X v. Y
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 895
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