Tag Archives: family

Matrimonial Dispute – Terms “Cruelty” and “Mental Cruelty”

The word “cruelty” has not been defined in the Hindu Marriage Act. The word appears to have been used in the section in context of human behavior in relation to or in respect of matrimonial obligations or duties. Cruelty can be termed as behavior or conduct of one spouse which adversely affects the other. Thus broadly speaking “cruelty” as a ground for the purpose of divorce under Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act can be taken as a behavior of one spouse towards the other which causes reasonable apprehension in his or her mind that it is not safe to continue the matrimonial relationship. Cruelty can be physical or mental or even intentional or unintentional. The mental cruelty is difficult to establish by direct evidence. It is a matter of inference to be drawn from facts and circumstances of the case. A feeling of anguish and frustration in one spouse caused by the conduct of other can be appreciated on the assessment of facts and circumstances in which the two have been living. The inference has to be drawn from overall facts and circumstances considered cumulatively.
Mental cruelty and its effect cannot be stated with arithmetical accuracy. It varies from individual to individual, from society to society and also depends on the status of the persons. What would be mental cruelty in the life of two individuals belonging to a particular stratum of the society may not amount to mental cruelty in respect of another couple belonging to a different stratum of society. The agonized feeling or for that matter a sense of disappointment can take place by certain acts causing a grievous dent at the mental level. The inference has to be drawn from the attending circumstances. Puja Suri v. Bijoy Suri, 2016 (119) ALR 140.

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Uttar Pradesh Rent Control Act – Definition of Family

Perusal of Section 3 of the Uttar Pradesh Urban Buildings (Regulation of Letting, Rent and Eviction) Act, 1972 would go to show that family in relation to landlord or tenant of a building would include: (1) spouse, (2) male lineal descendants, (3) such parents, grandparents, unmarried or widowed or divorced or judicially separated daughter or daughter of a male lineal descendant as may have been residing with the landlord. The definition further says “family” includes in relation to landlord, any female having a legal right of residence in that building.

The inclusive part of the definition, which is enacted only for the benefit of “female” in relation to the landlord, adds one or more category of person in addition to those specified in clauses (i) to (iii), namely, “any female having a legal right of residence in that building”.

A fortiori, any female, if she is having a legal right of residence in the building, is also included in the definition of “family” in relation to landlord regardless of the fact whether she is married or not. In other words, in order to claim the benefit of the expression “family”, a female must have a “legal right of residence” in the building. Such female would then be entitled to seek eviction of the tenant from such building for her need. Gulshera Khanam v. Aftab Ahmad, (2016) 9 SCC 414.

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Words “Family” and “Household”

“Household” and “Family” are not synonymous to each other and both the provisions would take its colour, in reference to the context it has been used, keeping in view the object and purpose sought to be achieved. According to Concise Oxford English Dictionary ‘family’ means a group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit; a group of people related by blood or marriage; the children of a person or couple; all descendants of a common ancestor.
Black’s law dictionary defines ‘family’ as (i) A group of persons connected by blood, by affinity or by law especially within two or three generations (ii) A group consisting of parents and their children (iii) A group of persons who live together and have a shared commitment to a domestic relationship.
According to Law Lexicon term ‘family’ may be said to have a well defined, broad and comprehensive meaning in general, it is one of great flexibility and is capable of many different meanings according to the connection in which it is used. Thus, it may be ‘children’, ‘wife and children’, ‘blood relations’ or the ‘members of the domestic circle’. According to the context, it may be of narrow or broad meaning as intention of the parties using the word, or as the intention of law using it, may be made to appear.
In its ordinary and primary sense the word ‘family’ signifies the collective body of persons living in one house or under one head or manager or one domestic Government. What constitutes a family in a given set of circumstances or in a particular society depends upon the habits and ideas of persons constituting that society and the religious and socio-religious customs of the community to which such persons may belong.
According to Law Lexicon ‘family’ may include even domestic servants and sometimes persons who are merely boarders.
On the other hand the term “household” means the collection of individuals who normally eat food prepared in the same kitchen. In Black’s Law Dictionary household has been mentioned belonging to the house and family as well as a family living together or a group of people who dwell under the same roof and in the Law Lexicon it has been described as number of persons dwelling under the same roof and composing a family and by extension all who are under one domestic head.
The term ‘family’ and ‘household’ are capable of wide and varying meaning and same cannot be left to be assigned a meaning in its general terms and the same has to be interpreted in reference to the context it has been used keeping in view the overall object and purpose sought to be achieved. Indrapal Singh v. State of U.P. and Others, (2014) 1 UPLBEC 379 (FB)

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