Incurable mental ailment as a valid ground for divorce: Punjab High Court.
The Punjab High Court, in Ajay Mehra v/s Gauri (FAO-M-193-2018 (O&M), delivered on 1st December,2022, held that spouse’s in curable mental ailment is a valid ground for divorce. The judgement was presided by Honourable Mr. Justice Ritu Bahri and Honourable Mr. Justice Deepak Gupta.
FACTS OF THE CASE:
The petitioner-appellant and the respondent-wife solemnized marriage, as per the Hindu traditions and customs, in the year 2011 and conceived a child in the year 2012. The petitioner-husband noticed the respondent’s strange behaviour after 4 months of marriage which turned violent after the birth of the child. The petitioner ignored the strange behaviour and cast ignorance on the same to save the marriage. However, with passage of time, the respondent’s behaviour was increasingly violent towards the petitioner and the other family members. The respondent threatened the petitioner of implicating him in false cases. Thereby, the petitioner filed for divorce but later withdrew the divorce petition. Thereafter, the respondent’s behaviour turned extremely violent and cruel and she had stopped looking after their child, or the household activities. She even threatened the petitioner of police threats on account of establishing physical relations. The petitioner-husband filed for divorce on grounds of cruelty under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The respondent denied all the allegations of the petitioner and claimed torture by the petitioner and his family with demands for dowry.
The division bench held that the expert opinion of the doctors proved that the respondent was suffering from some mental ailment. Moreover, there was ample evidence presented to the court of cruelty towards the petitioner and his family by the respondent in the form of filing criminal charges, threatening to commit suicide and day to day conduct amidst the family. The behaviour of the respondent was violent to an extent where it became impossible to reside under the same roof for the safety of the petitioner and the family members.
For a divorces on the ground of cruelty, the burden rests on the spouse pleading it. Also, cruelty is not defined under the Act. It does not have to be only physical, but can amount to mental cruelty as well.
Both the doctors stated that the respondent suffered from a mental ailment, which though treatable, was not curable. The mental ailment of the respondent would sustain throughout her life. The court held that the version held by the respondent appears false, based on the findings. The court ruled in favour of the appellant-petitioner on the ground of cruelty by the respondent.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY ARYA THAKUR.