The Gauhati High Court was hearing a matrimonial appeal preferred by a husband against the order of a Family Court dismissing his application for divorce. After evaluating all evidences on record, the high court stated how filing unsubstantiated criminal cases against husband and his family, because the woman refused to live with her in-laws, amounted to cruelty.
Husband is a resident of Digboi and presently lives with his mother, sisters and brother. His marriage took place in February 2012. After the marriage, wife joined her matrimonial home. However, just about a month into their marriage, the respondent wife demanded to reside separately with the appellant husband away from the husband’s relatives in a separate house.
The appellant being a contractual labourer was not able to sustain separate accommodation for him and his wife as he was required to render service at a place away from his matrimonial house which is in Digboi. Being unable to accede to the demands made by the respondent wife for separate accommodation, quarrels became frequent between the respondent wife and the appellant husband leading to unpleasantness in their matrimonial life.
The appellant husband in the face of persistent demands by the respondent wife for separate accommodation also attempted to take the respondent wife to his place of work at Madhuban by arranging separate accommodation away from the matrimonial home at Digboi. However, the respondent wife continued to resort to frequent quarrels with the appellant and started blaming him for the couple not being able to have a child after marriage. The respondent wife alleged that the appellant husband was medically unfit as a consequence of which she was unable to bear a child.
As the appellant’s period of contract in connection with his work was about to expire, he brought back the respondent wife to the matrimonial house. However, the respondent wife continued to be indifferent and negligent towards the appellant husband as well as the other family members. Around the month of June, 2013, the respondent wife declared that she was not willing to continue her matrimonial life with the appellant. As a consequence, the respondent wife insisted on going back to her parental home.
Husband & Family Charged With 498A
The appellant, his family members and friends tried to placate the respondent wife and whereupon the respondent wife assured the appellant and his family members that she will visit her parental house only for a few days but return back to the matrimonial home thereafter. However, contrary to her assurance, instead of returning back to the matrimonial house, she filed a case under Section 498(A) IPC before Digboi Police Station against the appellant and his family members. The appellant husband and his family members were compelled to apply for pre-arrest bail in view of the said criminal case filed by the respondent wife.
Under such circumstances, unable to bear the agony and the stress inflicted by the respondent wife, the appellant husband filed divorce case before the Court of District Judge, Dibrugarh.
Wife’s Response After She Was Served Divorce Notice
The respondent wife contested the case by filing her written statement. In her written statement she stated that she was subjected to cruelty to meet illegal demands of dowry in the form of cash and kind by the appellant husband, his step-mother, sister-in-law, brother and sisters from the very threshold of their marriage. The respondent wife further stated that she further contended that she was not provided with food and other medical treatment and that it was her brother who used to take care of the bare necessities of her life.
The woman also said that she had no income and is dependent on her brother whereas the appellant is serving at OIL, Digboi with a monthly income of Rs 50,000 and also earns additional income and other benefits from landed assets.
High Court On Cross Examination
During her cross, wife maintained the evidence adduced by her in her evidence-in-chief. She stated that she had filed three cases against the appellant. She further stated that she does not want to stay with the appellant or compromise with the appellant. She also admitted to the existence of the agreement entered by and between the appellant and the respondent pursuant to filing of the FIR although she denied that the agreement stipulated that the appellant will live separately with her in a rented house and that no one from his family members can come and meet them. It is also evident from her cross-examination that she had categorically stated that either the appellant will come to Dibrugarh to live with her or fulfil her demands, i.e., monetary demands or only then she will divorce him.
In the present case, the bench also observed, the respondent-wife had categorically stated during her cross-examination,
I am not wearing/putting sindoor right now because I don’t consider him as my husband.
Under these circumstances the bench observed that the Family Court had erred in evaluating the evidence in the proper perspective. The bench added,
Such categorical stand of the respondent points to the clear intention of the respondent that she is unwilling to continue her conjugal life with the appellant. Under such circumstances compelling the appellant husband to continue to be in matrimony with the respondent wife may be construed to be harassment inflicted by the respondent upon the appellant and his family members.
Refusal To Live With In-Laws Is Cruelty
Inter alia the bench observed that the Respondent-wife had refused to reside with her in-laws. She had in fact entered into an agreement whereby the appellant husband was required to provide “separate accommodation” to her in a rented house, away from the matrimonial house.
Such act of forcing a son (the appellant) to live away from his family, the court said, may be construed as an act of cruelty on part of the Respondent-wife.
The bench observed that children are mandatorily required to maintain their parents under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. Under the circumstances, the bench said,
The Family Court completely ignored this fact brought out during the evidence that the respondent compelled and prevented the appellant from performing his statutory duties towards his aged mother under the provisions of the 2007 Act. Such evidence is sufficient to be construed as an act of cruelty as the non-compliance/non-adherence to the provisions of the 2007 Act has criminal consequences leading to punishment or imprisonment as well as fine.
Filing False Criminal Cases Also Amounts To Cruelty
The High Court reiterated that the act of lodging criminal cases on unsubstantiated allegations against the husband and/or the husband’s family members amounts to cruelty.
In the present case, the Respondent-wife had filed three criminal complaints against the appellant and his family, one of which had been dismissed.
Thus relying on the Supreme Court’s verdict in Rani Narasimha Sastri v. Rani Suneela Rani, 2019 SCC Online SC 1595, the bench observed,
Filing of criminal cases like case under Sections 498(A) IPC etc. against the husband and the family members and which are subsequently dismissed/rejected by the Family Court, is sufficient to be construed as an act of cruelty by the wife. It is evident that there will be no purpose served to keep the marriage alive as there was no matrimonial harmony between the parties to be reached.
Finally the appeal was allowed and husband was granted a decree of divorce.
Reporting By Gender Biased Media
The same order has also been reported by The Live Law. Unfortunately, our gender biased media has picked up one comment of lesser consequence from the entire order and turned it into eye grabbing headline. They have left out the main crux of the matter, while the entire article focuses on sindoor and sakha!
Excerpts from the article:
The bench of Chief Justice Ajai Lamba and Justice Soumitra Saikia observed that under the custom of Hindu Marriage, a lady who has entered into marriage according to Hindu rituals and customs, her refusal to wear ‘sakha and sindoor’ will project her to be unmarried and/or signify her refusal to accept the marriage. The bench observed,
Under the custom of Hindu Marriage, a lady who has entered into marriage according to Hindu rituals and customs, and which has not been denied by the respondent in her evidence, her refusal to wear ‘sakha and sindoor’ will project her to be unmarried and/or signify her refusal to accept the marriage with the appellant.
Soon the headline and copy paste story was picked up by every single portal, without understanding the basis of the judgement. In the end, clickbait headline goes viral faster!
BEWARE OF BIASED FEMINIST MEDIA!
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