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Wife Making False Complaints To Husband's Superiors At Work Amounts To 'Mental Cruelty': Punjab & Haryana High Court Grants Divorce

Drishti Yadav
12 April 2022 6:23 AM GMT
Wife Making False Complaints To Husbands Superiors At Work Amounts To Mental Cruelty: Punjab & Haryana High Court Grants Divorce
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The Punjab and Haryana High Court has reiterated that filing of complaint and initiation of criminal proceedings by wife, which were found to be baseless and false, do cause harassment and torture to the husband and his family. One such complaint is sufficient to constitute matrimonial cruelty."Respondent wife also bent upon destroying the career and reputation of the appellant-husband as...

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has reiterated that filing of complaint and initiation of criminal proceedings by wife, which were found to be baseless and false, do cause harassment and torture to the husband and his family. One such complaint is sufficient to constitute matrimonial cruelty.

"Respondent wife also bent upon destroying the career and reputation of the appellant-husband as she made complaints against him to his senior officers in the Air Force," the division bench comprising Justice Ritu Bahri and Justice Ashok Kumar Verma remarked.

It was dealing with an appeal filed by the appellant-husband seeking to set aside judgment and decree passed by the District Judge whereby the petition for dissolution of marriage by a decree of divorce under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 was dismissed.

While allowing the petition, the Bench held that conduct of the respondent-wife in filing a complaint making unfounded, indecent, and defamatory allegations amount to mental cruelty.

Reliance was placed on Joydeep Majumdar vs. Bharti Jaiswal Majumdar, where defamatory complaints had been made by wife to husband's superior officers and the complaint so made by the wife was held to have affected the career progress of the husband. The Supreme Court had said that it amounted to 'mental cruelty' as the husband had suffered adverse consequences, in his life and career.

The appellant-husband herein submitted that in April 2002, the respondent-wife went to her parent's house and in spite of the best efforts of the, she did not return. Therefore, he was compelled to institute a divorce petition in 2006.

In 2008, the matter was compromised on the basis of separate statements. Despite having given an undertaking before the Court in her statement, she had not withdrawn her complaint and maintenance application and did not join the company of the appellant. Therefore, the appellant sought a decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty and desertion which was dismissed by the District Judge. Hence this appeal.

After considering the rival submissions by the parties, the court discussed the importance of the institution of marriage.

Matrimonial cases are matters of delicate human and emotional relationship. It demands mutual trust, regard, respect, love, and affection with sufficient play for reasonable adjustments with the spouse. The relationship has to conform to the social norms as well. The matrimonial conduct has now come to be governed by statute framed, keeping in view such norms and changed social order. It is sought to be controlled in the interest of the individuals as well as in a broader perspective, for regulating matrimonial norms for making of a well-knit, healthy, and not a disturbed and porous society. The institution of marriage occupies an important place and role to play in society, in general.

Coming on to the issue at hand, the court held a petition for divorce by the husband was instituted in 2006, which was referred to the Lok Adalat. The matter was compromised on the assurance of the respondent to withdraw her complaint made to the Air Force authorities along with the application for maintenance filed before the senior Air Force officer because the husband was working in the Indian Air Force, but she did not withdraw her complaint and maintenance application.

From the above deposition of the respondent-wife it is axiomatic that entire case set up by her stands demolished from her own statement wherein she has admitted in so many words that despite compromise, as assured, she had not withdrawn the complaint filed by her before the Air Force authorities and the application for maintenance before Senior Air Force officer.

As far as the issue of residing together is concerned, the court opined that she visited her husband but did not reside with him.

It is also clear from her statement that even after the compromise she had not resided with the appellant but rather visited him at Sirsa 7/8 times.

Court further held that Respondent-wife bent upon destroying the career and reputation of the appellant.

The respondent-wife also bent on destroying the career and reputation of the appellant-husband as she made complaints against him to his senior officers in the Air Force.

The court took into consideration various chain of events and held that it is not impressed by the argument that the filing of the criminal complaint has not been pleaded in the petition itself.

As we see it, the criminal complaint was filed by the wife after filing of the husband's divorce petition and being subsequent events could have been looked into by the Court. In any event, both the parties were fully aware of this facet of cruelty which was allegedly suffered by the husband. We are, therefore, not impressed by this argument raised on her behalf.

Court further held that filing of the complaint and initiation of criminal proceedings which are found baseless and false has caused harassment and torture to the husband and his family which is sufficient to constitute matrimonial cruelty.

Moving further to the issue of conduct of the respondent-wife, the court held that filing a complaint making unfounded, indecent, and defamatory allegations against the husband and parents-in-law has caused mental cruelty to the appellant-husband.

While granting a decree of divorce, the court opined that the marriage between the parties had broken down irretrievably, and not granting a decree of divorce would be disastrous for the parties.

In the light of the reasons discussed above and keeping in view the extra-ordinary facts and circumstances of the case, the appeal is allowed.

Case Title : Devesh Yadav v Smt. Meenal

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (PH) 66

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