"Such conduct of the respondent-wife of being interested in remaining in her room or not showing initiative in doing household work can by no stretch of imagination be described as cruel behaviour and that too upon the appellant/husband", observed the Delhi High Court recently.
The division bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Asha Menon was hearing the appellant-husband being aggrieved by the judgement and decree dated 30.08.2019 of the Family Court, Dwarka, dismissing his petition seeking dissolution of his marriage with the respondent No.1 under Section 13(1) (i) and (ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
With regard to her disinclination initially for a physical relationship with the appellant/husband, the bench noted that he himself admits that the marriage had been consummated and except for this one occasion, there were no repeated instances cited of refusal on the part of the respondent No.1/wife to have any sexual interaction with the appellant/husband. "Therefore, this ground too is not available to the appellant/husband to claim 'cruelty'", asserted the Court.
The Court noted that "Cruelty is no doubt, not measurable as a tangible commodity", but acknowledged that the standard for determining as to whether a particular conduct amounts to cruelty or only to normal wear and tear of marriage, has been the subject matter of several decisions of the Supreme Court.
From the affidavit filed by the appellant/husband, the bench opined that it was difficult to discern as to what conduct of the respondent No.1/wife impacted him as being cruel. The judgment narrates that he accused the respondent No.1/wife of having been (i) 'rude' and of a 'cruel behaviour' immediately after the marriage; (ii) of her picking up quarrels with every family member on trivial matters; (iii) of her refusal to have any physical relations with him immediately after the marriage; (iv) of locking herself in the room to be requested several times to come and participate in the muh dikhai ceremony; (v) of looking nervous and unhappy at the marriage reception on 01.12.2012; (vi) of keeping herself to her room, showing disinclination to do any household work or cook food.
"These were the 'cruel acts' attributed to the respondent No.1/wife. To our mind, none of these acts, if at all were committed by the respondent No.1, could tantamount to 'cruel' conduct", said the Court.
The bench proceeded to observe that a new bride would be hesitant in her new surroundings in the matrimonial home, and that it is always for the husband's family to make the new bride feel at home and accepted as a family member.
As regards the most serious allegation made by the appellant/husband that the respondent No.1/wife was leading an adulterous life, the bench reflected that what he did file by way of proof were certain documents which reveal that the respondent-wife and the brother of her brother-in-law (also a respondent) had filed an application before the SDM Hapur on 23.12.2011, expressing their intent to get married. However, admittedly, that marriage was not conducted on account of the objections raised by the brothers of the two respondents. The marriage between the appellant/husband and the respondent No.1/wife took place on 29.11.2012, almost a year later. "Though the appellant/husband claimed that he was not told about the previous affair of the respondents, the respondent No.l/wife during her cross-examination in response to a query, stated unequivocally that she had disclosed everything to the appellant/husband prior to her marriage with him. She denied the suggestion that prior to this marriage, she had entered into a live-in relationship with the respondent No.2. No witnesses were examined by the appellant/husband to substantiate this allegation, which was introduced for the first time during the cross-examination of the respondent No. 1/wife", recorded the bench.
Moreover, the bench was of the view that adultery could have been committed only after the marriage between the appellant/husband and the respondent No.1/wife had been solemnized and the allegation of adultery on the ground that before the marriage of the parties, the respondents had stayed together, is completely meaningless.
"It is thus clear that the learned Family Court had arrived at the right conclusion including observing that the accusations of adultery heaped by the appellant/husband on the respondent No.1/wife are without any proof whatsoever of the respondents living in adultery and having an illicit relationship either before or post the marriage of the parties and that the respondent No.1/wife had treated the appellant/husband with any cruelty", held the bench.
The Court also appreciated that in his affidavit, without of course, giving any specific dates, the appellant/husband had claimed that he had "reconciled" with the respondent No.1/wife and had hoped for a "bright future" and "had saved his matrimonial life".
"In other words, whatever "misconduct" that the appellant/husband had noticed and alleged, as delineated hereinabove, stood condoned by him, leaving no scope for him to have filed the petition before the court for dissolution of marriage between the parties either on the grounds of cruelty or adultery", said the High Court in dismissing the appeal.
MAT.APP.(F.C.) 327/2019 & C.M. No.53990/2019 VISHAL SINGH v. PRIYA @ PIHU & ANR