The Delhi High Court observed that there was no greater cruelty than making false allegations against the "chastity" of a woman while granting divorce to a woman on the grounds of cruelty and desertion. Notably, the couple has been living separately for the past 27 years.
The court explained that the term "mental cruelty" is wide enough to take within its ambit financial instability," adding that financial instability is bound to result in mental anxiety when the husband is not settled in any business or profession and can be considered a constant source of mental cruelty to the wife.
Further, the court noted that mental cruelty cannot be defined by a straight jacket parameter. It is necessary to take into account the spouse's circumstances and situation to determine if particular acts that are complained of would be a source of mental anguish and sorrow.
With regard to this case, the woman was working and the husband was unemployed. There was a huge disparity in the financial status of the husband and wife. The husband had tried to sustain himself independently but failed.
A two-judge bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna was hearing a petition filed by the woman challenging the family court’s decision to dismiss her pleas to grant divorce on the grounds of cruelty and desertion.
False Allegations Against Chastity Of Woman
The woman highlighted in her petition that her husband suspected her of being involved in an illicit relationship with her brother-in-law and many other people. Noting that the husband gave vague replies and that the brother-in-law and other family members constantly interfered, the court said this lends credence to the woman’s claims.
"There can be no greater cruelty than making false allegations against the chastity of a woman," it said.
The bench noted that the dead relationship would only add pain and agony and that the court could not be a party to the perpetuation of such mental cruelty.
The couple got married in 1989, and no child was born out of wedlock. The couple parted ways in December 1996 and have been living separately since.
The woman was employed in an MNC prior to her marriage, and it was informed to her that the man was a graduate of Delhi University and was earning Rs. 10,000 through different sources. The man’s family was portrayed as being of good financial status and they owned a two-and-a-half-storey bungalow in Delhi.
However, after marriage, the woman discovered that neither the man was a graduate nor did he have any job or source of income. He was only getting money from his mother. The man denied the allegations levelled against him, including those of cruelty and dowry harassment.
The Delhi High Court also took into account that the couple has been living separately for more than 27 years since December 1996, and no conciliations have taken place in all these years, proving that the parties were unable to sustain their marriage. Therefore, the court granted divorce to the couple on the grounds of cruelty and desertion under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
Suggested Reading: "No Law Gives Husband Right To Beat And Torture Wife:" Delhi HC