The Supreme Court has observed that legal course adopted by a wife to protect her rights cannot be considered as inflicting cruelty on the husband.
The bench comprising Justice R. Banumathi and Justice AS Bopanna also reiterated that irretrievable breakdown of marriage by itself is not a ground provided under the statute for seeking dissolution of marriage.
In his divorce petition, the husband alleged that the wife had filed a false case under Section 107/151 of Cr.PC. as a result of which he and his father were arrested. It was also alleged that the wife had filed a suit against him seeking declaration and permanent injunction with regard to their house wherein she had alleged that the respondent had defrauded her. According to the husband, the said acts of the wife had amounted to mental cruelty and therefore had sought for dissolution of the marriage. The wife defended her action resorting to legal proceedings stating that she instituted these proceedings to protect her rights and property.
The Apex Court, in this regard, observed:
Insofar as the action taken by the appellant herein to file a police complaint and the proceedings initiated under Section 107/151 of Cr.PC it is the natural legal course adopted by respondent to protect her right and possession of the property. It is not in dispute that at the point when a complaint was filed and a suit was also stated to have been filed by the appellant herein on 05.09.1995 there was misunderstanding brewing in the marital life of the parties and in that circumstance the appellant herein had adopted the legal course to protect her rights. Such action taken in accordance with law cannot, in any event, be considered as inflicting cruelty as the legal proceedings was used only as a shield against the assault.
In this case, the Trial Court had dismissed the petition seeking divorce. But the High Court granted divorce on the ground of irretrievable break down of marriage. In this aspect, the bench said:
As already noticed the High Court, while taking note of the nature of allegations made has proceeded on the basis that there is irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
Needless to mention that irretrievable breakdown of marriage by itself is not a ground provided under the statute for seeking dissolution of marriage. To this effect it would be apposite to refer to the decision rendered by this Court to that effect in the case of Vishnu Dutt Sharma vs. Manju Sharma (2009) 6 SCC 379 relied upon by the learned counsel for the appellant. No doubt on taking note of the entire material and evidence available on record, in appropriate cases the courts may have to bring to an end, the marriage so as not to prolong the agony of the parties. However, in the present facts, at this point in time even that situation does not arise in view of the changed scenario on the death of the respondent herein.
Click here to Read/Download Judgment