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Narendra v. K.Meena - (Supreme Court) (06 Oct 2016)

Persistent effort of wife to compel husband to separate from family constitutes ‘cruelty’



Present appeal has been filed by Appellant husband, whose decree for divorce passed by trial Court has been set aside by High Court of Karnataka. In facts of present case, reason for filing divorce petition was that Respondent wife had become cruel because of her highly suspicious nature and she used to level absolutely frivolous but serious allegations against him regarding his character and more particularly about his extra-marital relationship. Another important allegation was that, Respondent would very often threaten the Appellant that she would commit suicide.

There was no fault on part of Appellant nor was there any reason for Respondent wife to make an attempt to commit suicide as per evidence of witnesses on record. Mere idea with regard to facing legal consequences would put a husband under tremendous stress. Such threats or attempts to commit suicide constitute cruelty.

Respondent wife wanted Appellant to get separated from his family. Normally, no husband would tolerate this and no son would like to be separated from his old parents and other family members, who are also dependent upon his income. Apex Court pronounced that, persistent effort of Respondent wife to constrain Appellant to be separated from family would be torturous for husband and trial Court was right in concluding that this constitutes an act of ‘cruelty’.

To suffer an allegation pertaining to one’s character of having an extra-marital affair is torturous for any person – be it a husband or a wife. Except for baseless and reckless allegations, there is not even slightest evidence that would suggest that there was something like an affair of the Appellant with the maid named by the Respondent. Allowing the appeal of Appellant-husband, Supreme Court held that, unsubstantiated allegations levelled by Respondent wife and threats and attempt to commit suicide by her amounted to mental cruelty and therefore, marriage deserves to be dissolved by a decree of divorce on ground stated in Section 13(1)(ia) of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

Relevant : Pankaj Mahajan v. Dimple @ Kajal (2011) 12 SCC 1, Vijaykumar Ramchandra Bhate v. Neela Vijaykumar Bhate, 2003 (6) SCC 334, Section 13(1)(ia) of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955


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