The Chhattisgarh High Court in its order dated April 27, 2022 held that if a wife insists her husband to get separated from his parents and threatens to implicate him in a false dowry demand case, it would amount to mental cruelty.
The high court found enough evidence to take a view that the respondent wife had indeed treated the appellant husband with cruelty and thus the HC granted a decree for dissolution of marriage in his favour. The divorce comes through after nearly a decade long court battle for the man.
The couple got married in June 2011. According to the husband, their family life went fine for only about 3 months. Thereafter, the respondent-wife started quarrelling over small things and then without his consent, she used to go to her parental house with her father. After making various efforts, she returned. She said that she did not want to live along with his parents at Korba. She also said that if he wanted to live with her, then he has to live with her parents at Sakti, otherwise, they will lodge dowry case against him.
In March 2013, when the appellant-husband was coming from Tutikorin along with respondent wife by train, in a preplanned way, she got off the train at Raipur on the pretext of treatment and went along with her father from there, by assuring him that she will return to Korba. Since mother of the appellant husband was ill, hence in April 2013, the husband asked his father-in-law to send his wife to her matrimonial home.
However, this is when the man’s in-laws allegedly misbehaved and asked the husband to move to their home, otherwise, they would send him to jail in false dowry case.
According to the husband, the wife deserted him since April 2013, and thus he filed for divorce.
In her reply, the respondent-wife denied all the allegations levelled by appellant-husband, stating therein that neither she nor her father had forced him in any way to live with her parents, nor did she commit any torture on him or threatened him in any false case. Rather, after about 2 months of their marriage, she was subjected to cruelty on demand of car and jewellery.
Chhattisgarh High Court
A division bench of Justices Goutam Bhaduri and NK Chandravanshi heard the husband’s petition challenging a 2017 order passed by Family Court in Korba, where his divorce on grounds of cruelty was rejected.
The high court noted all evidences on record, which suggested that the marriage between the couple hardly worked for two months before differences cropped up. It was also recorded that the wife would often leave her matrimonial house and went to her parental house.
The high court also learnt that indeed the wife’s father insisted the husband to live in his house instead of the matrimonial (his own) house. On the other hand, the husband made several attempts to reconcile but in vain. The judges noted:
It seems that the wife belongs to higher strata in their society in respect of financial status comparatively than the husband, hence, she wants to live with him but not along with her in-laws. And, therefore, she always creates mental pressure in this regard on him and has threatened also to fasten him in a dowry case.
The judges further noted that the husband’s father was an old aged retiree employee and he also has a younger brother. The court added,
In such a lower middle class family, it is the responsibility of the eldest son (as the husband is, in the instant case) to take care of his elderly parents, as he has deposed also in his statement.
In such a situation, if wife persistently creates constraints upon husband to get separated from his family and to live with her at her parental house and also threatened him that, otherwise she will implicate him in dowry case, it, itself amounts to mental cruelty on the husband.
Settlement Deed Between Couple
The estranged couple had also signed a settlement deed for conjugal rights, in which the wife had specifically stated that she would live with the husband only if he lives separately from his parents.
Thus, the Chhattisgarh High Court was of the firm view that “If wife persistently creates constraints upon husband to get separated from his family and to live with her at her parental house, it amounts to mental cruelty.”
However, the HC rejected this Family Court view calling it unjustified and remarked,
We have no hesitation to hold that the Family Court was highly unjustified in making such observation. The Family Court has taken the role of a councillor rather than an adjudicator while doing so. It is after much efforts and counseling that a case comes up before the court for adjudication.
Then the role of the court is to adjudicate the issue involved in the case based on the evidence after duly appreciating it. The Family Court is not supposed to advice the remedies to the parties or dispose of the case on the probabilities of leading happy marital life in future.
Accordingly, the Chhattisgarh High Court granted divorce to husband on grounds of mental cruelty.
- We cannot overlook that the divorce has only come through for the man after 9-years
- Its time Government of India brings in Irretrievable Breakdown in Marriage Law (IRBM), where if either party contests divorce beyond 2-3 years of separation, the opposite party is granted divorce by default
- The absence of IRBM as grounds for divorce, has been a tool of harassment and ego booster for disgruntled wives, who derive a sense of achievement by not consenting to divorce in a dead marriage
- This is not about Men’s Rights, it is about basic Human Rights of an indvidual which are violated due to Gender Biased Laws
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