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Wife Working Against Husband’s Wishes Is Not ‘Cruelty’: Allahabad HC

Ashok KM
20 Dec 2017 1:38 PM GMT
Wife Working Against Husband’s Wishes Is Not ‘Cruelty’: Allahabad HC
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The Allahabad High Court has observed that a wife working against the wishes of husband or his family is not a ‘cruelty’ to grant divorce to husband.

The family court had granted divorce to husband on the grounds of cruelty and desertion. One of the grounds urged by the husband for seeking divorce was that wife is in employment against his wishes.

A bench of Justice Shabihul Hasnain and Justice Sheo Kumar Singh referred to Lord Denning’s “Due Process of Law” and quoted this passage: “A woman feels as keenly thinks as clearly, as a man. She in her sphere does work as useful as man does in his. She has as much right to her freedom - develop her personality to the full – as a man. When she marries, she does not become the husband’s servant but his equal partner. If his work is more important in life of the community, her’s is more important in the life of the family. Neither can do without the other. Neither is above the other or under the other. They are equals.”

The court also referred to various constitutional provisions and judgments of the apex court and observed: “The ground as the wife joined the service, in our view, cannot be made the ground for treating it as cruelty or ground for divorce.”

The bench also observed that there is no desertion by the wife in the instant case. This appeal was disposed of by an elaborate judgment and the bench has also illustrations about ‘mental cruelty'.



  • On consideration of complete matrimonial life of the parties, acute mental pain, agony and suffering as would not make possible for the parties to live with each other could come within the broad parameters of mental cruelty.

  • On comprehensive appraisal of the entire matrimonial life of the parties, it becomes abundantly clear that situation is such that the wronged party cannot reasonably be asked to put up with such conduct and continue to live with other party.

  • Mere coldness or lack of affection cannot amount to cruelty, frequent rudeness of language, petulance of manner, indifference and neglect may reach such a degree that it makes the married life for the other spouse absolutely intolerable.

  • Mental cruelty is a state of mind. The feeling of deep anguish, disappointment, frustration in one spouse caused by the conduct of other for a long time may lead to mental cruelty.

  • A sustained course of abusive and humiliating treatment calculated to torture, discommode or render miserable life of the spouse.

  • Sustained unjustifiable conduct and behaviour of one spouse actually affecting physical and mental health of the other spouse. The treatment complained of and the resultant danger or apprehension must be very grave, substantial and weighty.

  • Sustained reprehensible conduct, studied neglect, indifference or total departure from the normal standard of conjugal kindness causing injury to mental health or deriving sadistic pleasure can also amount to mental cruelty.

  • The conduct must be much more than jealousy, selfishness, possessiveness, which causes unhappiness and dissatisfaction and emotional upset, may not be a ground for grant of divorce on the ground of mental cruelty.

  • Mere trivial irritations, quarrels, normal wear and tear of the married life which happen in day-to-day life would not be adequate for grant of divorce on the ground of mental cruelty.

  • The married life should be reviewed as a whole and a few isolated instances over a period of years will not amount to cruelty. The ill-conduct must be persistent for a fairly lengthy period, where the relationship has deteriorated to an extent that because of the acts and behaviour of a spouse, the wronged party finds it extremely difficult to live with the other party any longer, may amount to mental cruelty.

  • If a husband submits himself for an operation of sterilization without medical reasons and without the consent or knowledge of his wife and, similarly, if the wife undergoes vasectomy or abortion without medical reason or without the consent or knowledge of her husband, such an act of the spouse may lead to mental cruelty.

  • Unilateral decision of refusal to have intercourse for considerable period without there being any physical incapacity or valid reason may amount to mental cruelty.

  • Unilateral decision of either husband or wife after marriage not to have child from the marriage may amount to cruelty.

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