Trying to separate husband from his family considered cruelty and ground of divorce

Narendra v. K. Meena


Divorce petition was filed by the appellant husband on the ground of cruelty. The wife was of highly suspicious nature and she used to level serious allegations against him regarding his character and more particularly about his extra-marital relationship. The wife wanted the appellant to leave his parents and other family members and to get separated from them so that she can live independently. Also she used to threaten the Appellant that she would commit suicide. Even she attempted to commit suicide once. Such behavior of the wife had made life of the appellant miserable and it became impossible for the appellant to stay with the respondent. Family Court granted divorce to the appellant but the High Court allowed the appeal filed by the wife.

The Supreme Court did not find any reliable evidence to show that the appellant had an extra-marital affair. Leveling of absolutely false allegations with regard to an extra-marital life was considered by the Supreme Court to be quite serious and a cause for metal cruelty. Applying the ratio in Vijaykumar Ramchandra Bhate v. Neela Vijaykumar Bhate, 2003 (6) SCC 334, the Court held that the unsubstantiated allegations levelled by the respondent wife and the threats and attempt to commit suicide by her amounted to mental cruelty and therefore, the marriage deserved to be dissolved by a decree of divorce on the ground stated in section 13(1)(ia) of the Act.

Following the judgment in Pankaj Mahajan v. Dimple @ Kajal (2011) 12 SCC 1, wherein it was held that giving repeated threats to commit suicide amounts to cruelty, the Supreme Court held that such threats or acts to commit suicide constituted cruelty. The mere idea with regard to facing legal consequences for such act of the wife would put a husband under tremendous stress. The Court opined that only that one event was sufficient for the appellant to get a decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty.

There was evidence that the family of the husband was virtually maintained by his income. The Supreme Court observed that it is not a common practice or desirable culture for a Hindu son in India to get separated from the parents upon getting married at the instance of the wife, especially when the son is the only earning member in the family. A son, brought up and given education by his parents, has a moral and legal obligation to take care and maintain the parents, when they become old and when they have either no income or have a meagre income. In a Hindu society, it is a pious obligation of the son to maintain the parents. If a wife makes an attempt to deviate from the normal practice and custom of the society, she must have some justifiable reason for that but in the present case there was none, except monetary consideration. The Supreme Court observed that persistent effort of the wife to constrain the appellant to be separated from the family was torturous for the husband and this constituted an act of ‘cruelty’. The appeal of the husband was thus allowed and the decree of divorce passed by the Family Court was restored.