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Supreme Court Quashes Rape Charges, Emphasizing Accused and Complainant’s Relationship Following Forced Marriage.

Case Title: Mohd. Julfukar v. The State of Uttarakhand and Another

Case No: Criminal Appeal No. 174 of 2024

Decided on:  9th January, 2024

CORAM: THE HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE B.R. GAVAI AND HON’BLE MR.  JUSTICE SANDEEP MEHTA

Facts of the Case

The accused/appellant engaged in a relationship with the complainant against her parents’ wishes, and they chose to live together. The complainant’s father filed a Habeas Corpus Petition in the High Court, alleging that the accused had unlawfully detained his daughter and seeking a directive for her production. Subsequently, the accused and the complainant cohabited for a significant period. However, their relationship encountered discord, leading them to reside separately. Following this, the complainant lodged an FIR with the Police Station, accusing the accused of offenses under Sections 376, 377, and 506 of the Indian Penal Code.

Issue

Whether the sexual relationship between the accused and the complainant after the ‘forced’ marriage amounted to Rape?

Legal Provision

Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code defines rape as “sexual intercourse with a woman against her will, without her consent, by coercion, misrepresentation or fraud or at a time when she has been intoxicated or duped, or is of unsound mental health and in any case if she is under 18 years of age.”

Court’s analysis and decision

The Supreme Court nullified a rape case upon recognizing that the sexual involvement between the defendant and the complainant occurred subsequent to a marriage that was deemed coercive. The Court made this observation during an appeal contesting the decision of the Uttarakhand High Court, which had denied the accused’s application to dismiss the charges under Sections 376 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code.

The Bench, consisting of Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice Sandeep Mehta, stated, “It is, thus, clear from her own statement that she was forced to marry the appellant. As such, the relationship between the appellant and the complainant was after the said marriage. It could thus be seen that even if the statement made by the complainant is taken on its face value, the ingredients to constitute the offence under Section 376 IPC are not made out.”

The Court additionally stated that the complainant herself has expressed a lack of intention to pursue the legal proceedings any further. In her affidavit submitted to the Court, she conveyed that they have jointly sought a divorce, which was officially concluded through Talaq-E-Khula on September 7, 2022.

The Court further mentioned that the appellant and the complainant have amicably settled their differences and mutually opted to lead peaceful lives. Consequently, the Court deemed the ongoing criminal proceedings contrary to the interests of justice. In line with this, the Supreme Court granted the appeal, resulting in the annulment of the High Court’s order.

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Written by- Afshan Ahmad

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The Kerala High Court stated that judicial separation cannot be given as an alternative when divorce grounds under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act are unproven.

Title: S v. D & connected matter

Decided on: 18, September 2023

Writ C No. – 148/2014

CORAM: The Honorable Mr. Justice Anil. K. Narendran and The Honorable Mrs. Justice Sophy Thomas.

 INTRODUCTION

The Kerala High Court is hearing a case involving a marital dispute. According to Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the husband filed an Original Petition (OP) alleging matrimonial cruelties and an illicit relationship between his wife and her brother in order to obtain a divorce from her. The divorce petition was denied by the Family Court, but a judicial separation decree was approved. Furthermore, the husband was recognized by the Family Court as the child’s biological father and given compensation, all without the need for any special pleadings or prayers. Both parties then filed appeals in the case—the wife against the judgment of judicial separation and the husband against the dismissal of his divorce petition.

 FACTS OF THE CASE

In this case, a husband requested a divorce, claiming that his wife had an extramarital affair with her brother and conceived despite the fact that their union had not yet been consummated. In order to establish that he wasn’t the child’s biological father, he also asked for a DNA test. The wife wished to keep the marriage intact and refuted these accusations. The husband was named the child’s father by the Family Court, which also granted judicial separation and awarded the child compensation, even though the divorce was denied. The ruling was appealed by both parties. 

COURTS ANALYSIS AND DECISION

The Kerala High Court rejected a husband’s request because there was insufficient proof to back up the husband’s allegations of his wife’s supposed adultery, the Kerala High Court denied the husband’s request for a divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act. The court further decided that judicial separation was not an acceptable substitute remedy. It stressed that a long-term absence alone does not prove an irreversible marital breakdown and chastised the Family Court for overstepping its bounds of authority. The husband’s appeal for divorce was denied, the wife’s appeal was upheld, and the judicial separation decree was annulled. The wife’s costs were also mandated to be covered by the husband. 

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Written by- Kusuma R

Kerala Hc 1

 

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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 

 

Introduction 

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. 

 

Contentions 

  • 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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Karnataka High Court Ruled Calling And Insulting Spouse For Darker Skin Amounts Cruelty And A Valid Ground For Divorce

Title: ABC And XYZ

Case NO: MISCELLANEOUS FIRST APPEAL NO. 8998 OF 2017

Date of Order: 03-07-2023

CORAM:HON’BLE JUSTICE ALOK ARADHE AND HON’BLE JUSTICE ANANT RAMANATH HEGDE

INTRODUCTION

The Karnataka High Court has ruled that cruelty would be established if a wife engages in insulting her husband based on his ‘dark’ complexion, distancing herself from him due to this reason, and making unfounded accusations of extramarital affairs as a way to conceal her actions

FACTS OF THE CASE

In 2007, the couple entered into matrimony and later became parents to a daughter. In 2012, the husband initiated divorce proceedings at a family court in Bengaluru. The husband’s contentions centered around his wife’s consistent belittlement of him due to his “darker complexion.” Additionally, in 2011, the wife lodged a reportedly “false” complaint against him and his relatives, invoking Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, accusing them of wrongdoing. Furthermore, she chose to depart from the petitioner’s company to reside with her parents. The wife contested these allegations, asserting that the husband engaged in an extramarital affair. She also alleged that the petitioner subjected her to physical abuse and that her treatment within his family was unfavorable.

COURT’S OBSERVATION

Upon reviewing the evidence presented by the wife regarding her allegations of her husband’s extramarital affair, the Court concluded that there was no credible evidence to support the claim that the husband was involved in such a relationship. Additionally, there was no proof that the husband had a child with the alleged woman, as the birth certificate provided did not mention any child’s name.

As a result, the Court determined that the accusations made by the wife against the husband were completely baseless and without proper foundation. The Court emphasized that making such groundless allegations in legal documents could inflict significant mental distress on the accused party.

The Court also criticized the Family Court for not considering the impact of these unfounded and reckless character allegations against the husband. It noted that during cross-examination, the wife expressed willingness to be with her husband but refused to retract her complaints. This refusal to withdraw the complaints despite being willing to reconcile with the husband indicated a significant rift between the couple.Thus the court allowed the appeal filed by the husband and set aside the family court order refusing divorce decree.

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Written by- Shreya Sharma

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Karnataka High Court says that the divorce cases should be decided by family courts within one year

Title: SRI. N RAJEEV AND SMT. C. DEEPA

Decided on: 26th July 2023

WRIT PETITION NO. 14769 OF 2023

CORAM : THE HON’BLE MR JUSTICE KRISHNA S DIXIT

INTRODUCTION

The Karnataka High Court put forward a point in this judgement that the courts (trial courts) should make all efforts to try to dispose of matrimonial cases that involve fro the prayer for the dissolution or to nullify the marriage within one year. It provided an outer limit of one year.

FACTS OF THE CASE

The petitioner in this case is aggrieved by the prolonged pendency of his matrimonial case, wherein he seeks a decree for the dissolution/nullity of his marriage with the respondent on fault grounds. The petitioner’s counsel argues that the right to speedy justice, recognized as a constitutional guarantee under Article 21 by the Apex Court, warrants a direction for the prompt resolution of the said case.

The court has dispensed with the need to serve notice to the respondent spouse, as no adverse order is being issued against her interests. Moreover, she will have ample opportunity to participate in the trial of the case before the lower court and will also benefit from the early resolution of the matter.

Court Analysis and Decision

Justice Krishna S Dixit observed “Matrimonial causes should be tried & disposed off on a war footing, at least as a concession to the shortness of human life.” He further pointed out the importance of early disposal and said “So that in the event of granting such a decree, the parties may restructure their lives.

It then opined “It hardly needs to be stated ‘life is lost in living’. Delay in disposal of such cases very badly affects the parties thereto, needs no deliberation.

The court made the observation in response to a petition by N Rajeev, ordered the family court to resolve his 2016 marriage dissolution/nullity case within three months.

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Written by- Shreya Sharma

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