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Suspecting Wife’s Character Amounts To Cruelty, Valid Ground For Divorce: Bombay HC [Read Judgment]

Arunima Bhattacharya
28 Sep 2016 5:45 PM GMT
Suspecting Wife’s Character Amounts To Cruelty, Valid Ground For Divorce: Bombay HC [Read Judgment]
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The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court in Vibha Goswami v. Arun Goswami, held that suspecting wife’s character, physically assaulting her and harassing her for coming home late after work amounts to cruelty and is a valid ground for divorce.

The Bench comprising Justice Vasanti A. Naik and Justice Indra Jain granted the wife divorce on the ground of cruelty.

The wife (petitioner) and the husband (respondent) got married in 2000 and started cohabiting in Wardha.

The wife was a qualified engineer while the husband was a 12th pass, hence it was contended that the husband suffered an inferiority complex.

After adducing evidence from both the sides, it was proved that the husband treated his wife cruelly. He would discourage her from working, even though he himself was unemployed most of the time due to his habit of shifting jobs.

Although the wife used to accompany him every time he shifted his job, when she finally delivered a male child after suffering two miscarriages, she decided to take up a job in Pune.

The husband and his family members were not in the favour of the wife taking up a job as they thought that she was embarrassed to do household chores.

The wife decided to remain a housewife until after the birth of her child, as it was becoming difficult to pay for his expenses on the meager salary of the husband, who would often remain unemployed.

After getting a job in Pune, the wife purchased a flat in the joint name of her husband and herself, but the husband didn’t pay a single penny.

After sometime, the woman got a job at IBM where she received a better salary to cover for the household expenditure but it was demanding as she had very long shifts and would often come home late, because of which the husband would call her characterless, assault her physically and level allegations that she was involved in adulterous relations.

After several quarrels, allegations and assaults, the wife finally decided to move out of the house with her child and she filed a petition for divorce at the Family Court, Amravati, under section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, on the ground of cruelty.

The husband said that he had signed the petition on the condition that he would have access to their child, but when the wife refused this, he refused to get divorce by mutual consent.

Two important points raised to determine the outcome and the decision taken by the court are:

  1. Whether the Family Court could have dismissed the petition filed by the wife under section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

Ans. “… petition for divorce under Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act was filed by the husband and wife before the court at Amravati but according to husband, as access to child was denied, he refused for divorce by mutual consent. This fact indicates that the respondent accepted that the marriage cannot be saved and no purpose will be served in continuing the marriage. It is not the case of husband that his signature on petition under Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act was obtained by force, fraud or coercion. He voluntarily agreed to obtain a decree of divorce by mutual consent. The judge of the Family Court has not adverted to this aspect.” 

  1. Whether wife is entitled to a decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty?

Ans. It was seen that the evidence given by the wife was unshaken in her deposition and also unchallenged by the opposite party. The allegations were of the cruel treatment, physical assaults and harassment on coming home by continuously judging her as being characterless. In the absence of cross-examination, her evidence was taken to be as proved. Thus the court held that: 

“Thus on the basis of evidence on record, it is clear that the conduct of husband in suspecting the character of wife, physically assaulting and harassing her as she was coming home late from work place due to the nature of her job are the facts duly established amounting to cruelty and wife is entitled to a decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty.” 

Thus, on the basis of the above findings, the appeal of the wife was granted and the wife was granted divorce under section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act.

Read the Judgment here.

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