Breaking the Chains: Delhi High Court Grants Divorce on Grounds of Cruelty and Desertion   

Case Title: Poonam Wadhwa vs. Rajiv Wadhwa 

Date of Decision: September 6, 2023 

Case Number: MAT.APP.(F.C.) 197/2022 

Coram: Hon’ble Mr. Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Hon’ble Ms. Justice Neena Bansal Krishna 



This case involves an appeal filed under Section 28 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, challenging a previous judgment that dismissed the appellant’s petition for divorce based on grounds of cruelty and desertion. The appellant, Poonam Wadhwa, sought a divorce from her husband, Rajiv Wadhwa, citing various acts of cruelty and desertion. 


Factual Background 

Poonam Wadhwa and Rajiv Wadhwa were married on April 9, 1989, according to Hindu customs. However, they had no children during their marriage. After nearly seven years of living together, they separated on November 27, 1996. Poonam alleged that she had endured physical and mental cruelty from Rajiv and his family. 


Legal Issues 

The primary legal issues in this case revolve around whether the appellant’s claims of cruelty and desertion meet the criteria for divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) and Section 13(1)(ib) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. 



  • The appellant claimed that she suffered physical and mental cruelty, including physical abuse, demands for money, false allegations of illicit relationships, and threats of suicide by the respondent.  
  • The appellant also asserted that she had been deserted by the respondent for over two years prior to filing the petition for divorce. 


Observation and Analysis 

The court considered the evidence presented by both parties. While the appellant’s claims of physical cruelty lacked concrete proof, the court found that there was substantial evidence of mental cruelty due to the significant financial disparity between the parties, false allegations made by the respondent, and the long separation of over 27 years. The court relied on legal precedents in the cases of Shobha Rani v. Madhukar Reddi (1998), Naveen Kohli v. Neelu Kohli (2006), Samar Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh (2007), Gurbux Singh v. Harminder Kaur (2010), Rakesh Raman v. Kavita (2023) and guidelines regarding mental cruelty in divorce cases, emphasizing that the continuation of a dead marriage could itself be a form of cruelty. 


Decision of the Court 

The High Court allowed the appeal and granted divorce to Poonam Wadhwa on the grounds of cruelty and desertion under Section 13(1)(ia) and Section 13(1)(ib) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The court concluded that the extended separation, coupled with the evidence of mental cruelty, justified the dissolution of the marriage. 


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Written by – Ananya Chaudhary

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