Cruelty can never be defined with exactitude. What is cruelty will depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case. In case the wife makes reckless, defamatory and false accusations against her husband, his family members and colleagues, which would definitely have the effect of lowering his reputation in the eyes of his peers. Mere filing of complaints is not cruelty, if there are justifiable reasons to file the complaints. Merely because no action is taken on the complaint or after trial the accused is acquitted may not be a ground to treat such accusations of the wife as cruelty within the meaning of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955. However, if it is found that the allegations are patently false, then there can be no manner of doubt that the said conduct of a spouse leveling false accusations against the other spouse would be an act of cruelty. Raj Talreja v. Kavita Talreja, 2017 (123) ALR 835.
Tag Archives: Physical Cruelty
In the plaint for divorce being filed under Section 10 of the Indian Divorce Act, it has to be established that the desertion has been for more than two years on the date of presentation of application for divorce. It is an admitted position that marriage between the parties has not completed two years on the date plaint for divorce was filed and therefore the question of desertion being for a period of more than two years on the date the application was made, does not arise.
Further from a reading of Section 10(1)(x) of the Indian Divorce Act, it will be seen that not only cruelty is to be established, it is further to be shown that because of such cruelty, a reasonable apprehension has arisen in the mind of one of the parties that it would be harmful or injurious to live with the other party. Leonard Dass v. Prema Catherine Dass, 2018 (131) ALR 133.
By a catena of decisions of the Hon’ble Apex Court, it is settled that making unfounded indecent defamatory allegations against the spouse or his or her relatives in the pleadings, filing of complaints or issuing notices or news items which may have adverse impact on the business prospect or the job of the spouse and filing repeated false complaints and cases in Court against the spouse would, in the facts of the case, amount to causing mental cruelty to the other spouse.
In Vijaykumar Ramchandra Bhate v. Neela Vijaykumar Bhate, (2003) 6 SCC 334, the Hon’ble Apex Court considered the question, whether the averments, accusations and character assassination in the written statement constitutes mental cruelty for sustaining the claim for divorce under Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and held as under:
“The position of law in this regard has come to be well settled and declared that leveling disgusting accusations of unchastity and indecent familiarity with a person outside wedlock and accusations of extra marital relationship is a grave assault on the character, honour, reputation, status as well as the health of the wife. Such aspersions of perfidiousness attributed to the wife, viewed in the context of an educated Indian wife and judged by Indian conditions and standards would amount to worst form of insult and cruelty, sufficient by itself to substantiate cruelty in law, warranting the claim of the wife being allowed. That such allegations made in the written statement or suggested in the course of examination satisfy the requirement of law has also come to be firmly laid down by the Court.” Smt. Jayanti v. Dr. Om Prakash Pandey, 2017 (124) ALR 117.
In Yuvraj Digvijay Sinhji v. Yuvrani Pratap Kumari, (1969) 2 SCC 279, the Hon’ble Apex Court held as under:
“A party is impotent if his or her mental or physical condition makes consummation of the marriage a practical impossibility. The condition must be one, according to the statute, which existed at the time of the marriage and continued to be so until the institution of the proceedings. In order to entitle the appellant to obtain a decree of nullity, he will have to establish that his wife, was impotent at the time of marriage and continued to be so until the institution of the proceedings.”Smt. Sulekha v. Ashok Kumar, 2016 (119) ALR 555.
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.