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Ajay Ramrao Chavan Vs. Sampada Ajay Chavan - (High Court of Bombay) (12 Oct 2017)

Mere trivial irritations, quarrels, normal wear and tear of the married life would not be adequate for grant of divorce on ground of mental cruelty



The Appellant - husband had filed a petition before the Family Court at Pune, seeking divorce from the Respondent - wife under Section 13 (1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 on the ground of the Respondent having inflicted mental cruelty upon him. By the impugned judgment, the Family Court has found that, the Appellant has failed to prove cruelty, and therefore, the divorce petition filed by the Appellant has been dismissed. By the instant appeal, the Appellant has challenged the said judgment and order of the Family Court, claiming that, there was sufficient material and evidence placed on record to prove the mental cruelty inflicted upon him by the Respondent - wife, and that a decree of divorce was required to be passed in the facts and circumstances of the case.

It has been held by the Supreme Court that, a comprehensive definition of the concept of mental cruelty cannot be given, considering that the human mind is extremely complex and human behaviour is equally complicated. But, certain aspects of the concept of mental cruelty can be identified. In the case of Samar Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh, the Supreme Court has held that, 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. The treatment complained of and the resultant danger or apprehension must be very grave, substantial and weighty. Mere trivial irritations, quarrels, normal wear and tear of the married life which happens 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 behavior of a spouse, the wronged party finds it extremely difficult to live with the other party any longer, may amount to mental cruelty.

In the present case, the facts that emerge on record show that, the Appellant and the Respondent were married in May 2006 and that the first document showing conflict between them was a legal notice sent by the Appellant to the Respondent. This document assumes great significance in the present case because it shows as to what the Appellant considered reasons for his inability to continue to live in matrimonial life with the Respondent. Perusal of the said legal notice shows that the Appellant found Respondent to be extremely stubborn and quarrelsome in nature. It is further stated in the notice that the Appellant and his parents have suffered immense physical and mental harassment at the hands of the Respondent due to her quarrelsome and intransigent nature. On this basis, it is claimed by the Appellant that he is unable to continue marital life with the Respondent.

The Appellant has failed to show that conduct of the Respondent is so abnormal and below acceptable norms that the Appellant cannot reasonably be expected to put up with it. It appears from the material on record that there were temperamental differences between the Appellant and the Respondent, but only this factor cannot entitle the Appellant for a decree of divorce. The Family Court is justified in holding that, the ground of separate residence claimed by the Appellant, as the basis for cruelty, was an afterthought and that the Appellant failed to prove that he was entitled to a decree of divorce under Section 13 (1) (i-a) of the said Act.

An attempt was made on behalf of the Appellant to demonstrate that there was nothing left in the marriage with passage of time and that the Appellant was in no state of mind to take back the Respondent and the minor child to his home. This cannot be a factor to decide the fate of the divorce petition, filed by the Appellant. He came to the Court with a specific case of mental cruelty being inflicted by the Respondent on him. But he has failed to prove his case on the basis of evidence and material on record. Between September, 2009 to April, 2010, the parties did stay together with the minor child under orders of this Court and even during this period, it was recorded that the Appellant could not make up his mind to take the Respondent and child to his home. The record shows that, the Appellant was intensely desirous of having divorce, but he has failed to make out the case with which he has approached the Court. Thus, the judgment and order passed by the Family Court dismissing the divorce petition of the Appellant is justified and that there is no merit in the present appeal.

Relevant : Samar Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh MANU/SC/1386/2007 : 2007 (4) SCC 511


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