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Callous attitude of wife amounts to cruelty and cannot be regarded as trivial matters: Bombay High Court

The principal question which requires consideration is whether from the evidence on record, can it be inferred that the spouse has committed an act of cruelty and whether the marriage is required to be dissolved on the aforesaid ground. This remarkable judgment was passed by the Bombay High Court in the matter of SUNESH SUDHAKAR RELEV SEEMA SUNESH RELE [FAMILY COURT APPEAL NO. 106 OF 2012] by Honourable Justice R. D. Dhanuka and Justice V. G. Bisht.

The husband has filed this Family Court Appeal against the Judgment and Order passed by the Family Court whereby a Petition seeking divorce on the ground of cruelty under Section 27(d) of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 had been dismissed.

After marriage, the wife informed him that she did not marry willingly instead was forced by her father and that she now wants to divorce. Later the wife started cruel and rude behaviour with the husband and his parents and abuse the elderly parents for petty issues and threaten to beat them on several occasions. The husband continued to tolerate this behavior but after two months of marriage, she left the matrimonial home only to return after ten days with an intention of divorce and refused any physical relations and ridiculed his physical appearance. Later, she took all her ornaments and left and even sent a legal notice and claimed pregnancy even though she was not pregnant and had no signs of any pregnancy when she left the matrimonial home.

Thus, he instituted a Petition for divorce on the ground of cruelty, the wife denied these allegations and instead contended that they were demanding dowry and after it was not paid, they are trying to sully her character and also alleged that due to harassment and mental torture by the appellant she suffered a miscarriage. After recording the evidence, the learned Judge came to the conclusion that the appellant has failed to prove that the wife treated him with cruelty and accordingly dismissed the Petition of divorce. Later in front of the HC, it was claimed that the wife demanded a sum of Rs.10 lakhs for giving divorce, and since the court failed to appreciate the evidence the judgment should be set aside,

The HC observed that “Instances firmly established on record were neither controverted nor assailed nor even remotely touched in the cross-examination. Simply, the version of husband in consonance and confluence with pleadings have gone unchallenged in the cross-examination without being tested with any sincerity and vigorously by the wife.

The Court also stated that “Relation between them was not marred by ordinary wear and tear of matrimonial life. Wife’s bursting out at regular intervals as to tying of nuptial knot against her wish, having an affair with other boy and her leading adulterous and a life of sexual debauchery, by all means, can be termed as marital misconduct constituting mental cruelty to the husband, to say the least.”

The Court acknowledged that “perpetual nagging was certainly and completely intolerable” and lead to a situation wherein the husband’s life became miserable because of rude and cruel behavior of the wife as it endangered his mental peace because of infliction of abusive words.

The Bench stated that “The circumstances could not be considered as conducive to congenial married life. The callous attitude of respondent-wife on this behalf certainly amounts to cruelty. The incident so noted cannot be by any stretch of imagination be regarded as trivial matters in the day-to-day married life and rather were very serious.”

The Court in regards to abortion and miscarriage stated that the finding of the trial Judge was that the pregnancy was either aborted or terminated with the knowledge or consent of the husband but the husband was not informed about the pregnancy let alone the vent of miscarriage or abortion.

The Court regarded that the Trial Judge failed to appreciate the intact testimony of the husband and stated that, “It is a case of virtual no cross-examination of various instances as deposed to by appellant-husband in his substantive evidence. In a sense, the learned trial Judge recorded perverse findings which are not consistent with the evidence on record. Therefore, the findings so arrived at by learned trial Judge is not sustainable.”

Thus, the judgment of the Family Court was quashed and set aside and the decree of divorce was allowed under Section 27(1)(d) of the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

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