31 Oct 2023 5:15 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court has said that trivial irritations and loss of trust between a married couple cannot be confused with mental cruelty.A division bench of Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva and Justice Manoj Jain also observed that denial of sex can be considered a form of mental cruelty where it is found to be persistent, intentional and for a considerable period of time. It added that keeping in...
The Delhi High Court has said that trivial irritations and loss of trust between a married couple cannot be confused with mental cruelty.
A division bench of Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva and Justice Manoj Jain also observed that denial of sex can be considered a form of mental cruelty where it is found to be persistent, intentional and for a considerable period of time.
It added that keeping in mind the nature of such allegation, the court needs to be over-circumspect while adjudicating such sensitive and delicate issue, while remaining alive to the broad conspectus of the case.
Furthermore, the bench also said that the power to dissolve marriage on account of “irretrievable breakdown” vests only with the Supreme Court of India, which cannot be sought by any of the parties as a matter of right.
The court made the observations while setting aside a family court order granting divorce to the husband on the ground of cruelty and desertion by wife.
Allowing the wife’s appeal, the court said that while it may, at times, be easy to decipher the aspect of physical cruelty with the help of some corroborative evidence, there is no standard yardstick to assess the mental cruelty.
“There are bound to be several interwoven circumstances which need to be carefully factored in to assess the element of mental cruelty,” the court said.
According to the husband, the wife was not interested in living with him in the matrimonial home. He alleged that she used to desert him on one pretext or the other and was rather interested in “running a coaching centre” and wanted him to live with her at her parental home as “ghar-jamai.”
The court observed that the aspect of asking the husband to live as ghar jamai did not stand proved and that it did not mean anything as he did not agree to such proposal and the parties lived together at rented accommodation.
It was also the husband’s case that the wife had lodged a false and malicious FIR against him and that such registration of FIR per se amounted to cruelty. He also claimed that falsity in the FIR stood further proved as the criminal case resulted in acquittal, which had also attained finality.
“Undoubtedly, since wife had lodged a complaint against her husband and his family members and had made reference to various instances of cruelty in her such complaint, she should have entered into the witness box and made herself available for cross examination. At the same time, merely because she did not enter into the witness box and her testimony remained incomplete would not automatically mean that her complaint was bundle of lies or that she had launched a false and vexatious prosecution,” the court said.
It added that merely because the wife approached the police for seeking redressal of her grievances and on the basis of her complaint, FIR was registered in which accused were eventually granted benefit of doubt, would not tantamount to hold that registration of such case amounted to cruelty.
“Parties stayed together at rented accommodation but there was no revival of mutual trust. In such a situation, it was simply a case of normal wear and tear of matrimonial bond. There was nothing to affirmatively suggest that the conduct of the wife was of such a nature that it was no longer possible for her husband to stay with her. The trivial irritations and loss of trust cannot be confused with mental cruelty,” the court said.
Court also refused to accept husband's "unspecific and unsubstantiated allegations" regarding denial to sexual intercourse.
"The husband should also have been mindful of the fact that there were repeated instances of misunderstandings between the parties and there were efforts from both the sides to somehow stay together and in such a situation, the first endeavour should have been to ensure the revival of mutual trust instead of straightway going for physical relationship. Once trust creeps in, certain things are bound to happen, naturally," it said.
Title: X v. Y
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 1036
Click Here To Read Order