‘Spouse Having Incurable Mental Ailment Leading To Irresponsible, Violent Behaviour Makes Life Living Hell’: P&H High Court Allows Man's Divorce Plea
The Punjab and Haryana High Court recently allowed a man's divorce plea, observing that when a spouse has an incurable mental ailment, leading to "irresponsible and violent behavior, it certainly makes the life of the victim spouse, a living hell".
Setting aside the findings of the trial court that had dismissed the man's plea for divorce, the division bench of Justice Ritu Bahri and Justice Deepak Gupta said that the trial court failed to appreciate the medical evidence on his wife's mental health.
"Both the doctors PW3 and PW5 have categorically stated that the psychological problem of the respondent was though treatable but not curable. This shows that the said mental ailment / problem would remain with the respondent throughout her life and she will not get rid of it. The petitioner would not seek solace during his entire matrimony. It is not such a disease, which with the passage of time after the treatment, the respondent will be cured. Persistence of such an irrational and untoward conduct of the respondent against the petitioner and his family members throughout his conjugal relationship would certainly be a constant source of immense agony and pain to the petitioner," said the court.
It added that the medical evidence, rather, supported the version of the man that his wife is suffering from mental ailment and as such, her behavior was not good towards him and his family and after the delivery of the child, her behavior became more violent.
"Respondent refused to perform matrimonial obligations. She stopped looking after the child also. The respondent has also admitted that she is suffering from depression. However, she stated that on account of the cruel treatment given by the petitioner and his family members on demand of dowry and forcing her to get a share in the property of her father led her to have a mental depression. Otherwise, she has no mental ailment. She also admitted that on account of depression, she has been taking treatment. This admission on the part of the respondent has also gone a long way to support the allegations of the petitioner," said the court.
Additional District Judge Amritsar had earlier dismissed the man's plea for dissolution of marriage on his alleged grounds of cruelty under Section 13 (1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
As per the petitioner, he got married in 2011 and after around four months of marriage, he noticed that the behaviour of his wife “was not normal.” Her behaviour started getting "more furious" after the delivery of the child, he alleged. He submitted that she even threatened to kill herself and the other family members and also threatened to involve him and his family members in false criminal cases.
Contending that she suffers from an incurable mental health disease, the husband argued that she even did not allow him to establish physical relations and whenever he made advances towards her, she used to give threats of police. She did not even take care of the minor child, the court was told.
"The mental torture so given by the respondent is of such an extent that he started thinking in terms of committing suicide, but he could not do so for the sake of the child. The petitioner and his family members are undergoing an insurmountable mental stress at the hands of the respondent," it was argued before the court.
The petitioner, therefore, challenged the impugned order of the court below on grounds that the expert evidence of doctors proving that his wife was suffering from incurable mental ailment was not considered by that court.
Denying all his allegations, the respondent submitted that she was harassed and humiliated by the petitioner in connection with demands for dowry.
The division bench said that the trial court has observed that respondent-wife has failed to establish that petitioner and his family members ever subjected her to cruelty on demand of dowry or asking her to take share from her father’s property. The trial court had also observed that she failed to establish that her husband and her family members misappropriated her dowry articles.
"In the face of these findings, the version of the respondent that because of the cruelty meted out to her, she has gone into mental depression appears false. This rather gives credence to the version of petitioner that the respondent is suffering from mental ailment. In face of the above evidence, it is observed that learned trial court fell into error while holding against the petitioner as regard his allegation about the matrimonial misconduct committed by the respondent," said the bench.
The court noted that man had earlier also filed a divorce petition but to give a second try to his matrimonial life, he compromised the matter with the respondent despite the fact she had filed a criminal case against him and his family members.
"The petitioner specifically testified that after the compromise the behavior of the respondent did not change and she continued with her bad behavior. The continuance of bad behavior by the guilty spouse, which was once pardoned by the other spouse on promise and assurance that such a behavior would not be repeated, would not make out a case of condonation. The respondent has admitted in her testimonial account that after the filing of the present divorce petition, she has filed a criminal case of demand of dowry against the petitioner-husband. This again suggest an act of cruelty on the part of the respondent against the petitioner," said the court.
Allowing the plea for divorce on ground of 'cruelty', the court said long separation of seven years between the parties, during have been litigating, would show that the marriage between the parties has become a deadwood and beyond repairs on account of bitterness between the parties.
"The marriage has already become dead between the parties, cannot be revived by court verdict. Such long separation is bound to create an unbridgeable distance between the parties and would be a constant source of mental cruelty to the couple. There seems no purpose in compelling the party to live in matrimony. The consequence of preservation such an unworkable marriage, which has long ceased to be effective is bound to be a source of great misery for the parties," said the court.
Case Title: Ajay Mehra v. Gauri
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (PH) 9
Case No: FAO-M-193-2018 (O&M)
Coram: Justice Ritu Bahri and Justice Deepak Gupta