28 March 2023 9:00 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court recently observed that the wife’s reputation is lowered by the mere fact that husband has made allegations against her in a newspaper, whether or not the news report is actually defamatory.A division bench of Justice RD Dhanuka and Justice MM Sathaye was dealing with a matrimonial dispute in which the husband published allegedly defamatory news about his wife in...
The Bombay High Court recently observed that the wife’s reputation is lowered by the mere fact that husband has made allegations against her in a newspaper, whether or not the news report is actually defamatory.
A division bench of Justice RD Dhanuka and Justice MM Sathaye was dealing with a matrimonial dispute in which the husband published allegedly defamatory news about his wife in a newspaper.
“Whether the actual news is defamatory or not is irrelevant for the present purpose. The fact that allegations and accusations are leveled by a party (husband in this case) against the spouse (wife) in newspaper, itself has an effect of lowering her reputation in the eyes of her peers and colleagues. Embarrassment is a bitter bonus !”, the court observed.
The court further noted that the appellant filed criminal complaints not only against his mother-in-law before the Anti-Corruption Bureau but also against the investigating officer, the prosecutor who is a relative of the wife, as well as his wife’s current lawyer.
The court opined that such a person is difficult to deal with and would certainly cause mental harassment.
“In our considered view, a partner in matrimonial relationship who goes to the extent of filing police complaints against mother, friend, well wishers, Prosecutor or Advocate of his own wife, is a kind of person who is difficult to deal with and certainly causing mental harassment”, the court stated.
The court upheld family court’s decree granting divorce to the wife and held that the husband’s overall behaviour constitutes mental cruelty.
The appellant was a Yes Bank employee at the time of his marriage. According to his wife’s plea, her parents gave her 15 tolas of gold ornaments and bore 75% of marriage expenses. She alleged that the appellant drank and abused her daily. One day he visited the police academy where she was training and created scene using filthy language, she alleged. He also mortgaged her gold ornaments and borrowed loans from DNS Bank, it is claimed. Thus, she filed for a divorce and a police complaint under section 498-A (cruelty to wife) IPC.
The family court issued decree of divorce and directed the appellant to return the streedhan to his wife. The appellant’s suit for restitution of conjugal rights was dismissed. Hence the present appeal.
The husband denied his wife’s allegations. He further contended that the gold ornaments mortgaged by him are his own family’s ornaments and not his wife’s streedhan.
The court noted that the husband admitted in his cross examination that his wife’s mother gave her the gold ornaments and they are lying in the bank as security for loans. Further, he published news in a daily newspaper “Divya Marathi” to defame his wife.
The court concluded that there is a lot of bitterness between the parties, and it is not possible to reconcile the situation. From the evidence, the court held that the husband’s conduct amounts to mental cruelty. Hence, the court upheld the divorce granted by the trial court.
The court added that whether they are given by parents or in-laws, gold ornaments received in marriage become streedhan.
“…the learned Trial Judge has rightly held that whether the wife receives gold ornaments from her parents or her in-laws, the gold ornaments received in marriage by wife becomes her streedhan”, said the court.
Therefore, the court directed the appellant to return the streedhan to his wife after making necessary payments to the bank.
Case Title – Uday v. Rupali
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Bom) 165
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment