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Rita v. Brh Kishore Gandhi

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Case Name : Rita v. Brh Kishore Gandhi

Citations: Rita v. Brh Kishore Gandhi, AIR 1984 Delhi 291

Date of Judgement: 10/11/1983

Equivalent Citations: ILR 1984 Delhi 289

Case Type: Civil Appeal

Petitioner: Rita

Respondent: Brh Kishore Gandhi

Bench: Hon’ble Justice M.L. Jain

Court: Delhi High Court

Statutes Referred:

Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; Sections – 9, 13, 13A, 23(3)

Civil Procedure Code; Order 32A Rule 4

Matrimonial Proceedings (Magistrates Court) Act, 1960 [ENGLAND]

Matrimonial Causes Act, 1937; Sections – 1(1)(t), 2(1)(a)

The Special Courts Act, 1979; Section- 16(1)(a)

Cases Referred:

Rukma Kanta v. Faquir Chand, AIR 1960 Punj. 493(1); Gurcharan Singh v. Waryam Kaur, AIR 1960 Punj. 422(2); Pranab Biswas v. Mrinmoyee Devi, AIR 1976 Cal 156; Ashwani Kumar Sehgal v. Swatantar Sehgal, 80 Plr 573(4); Marsh v. Marsh-(1858) 1 Sw & Tr 313(5); Hudson v. Hudson, (1863)3 SW& Tr 314(6); Power v. Power, (1865) 34 LJ PM&T.137(7); Walker v.Walker (1898) 77 Lt. 715(8); Beer v. Beer (1906) 94 L.T. 704(10); Scott v. Scot (1860) 29 LJ.P. 64(9); Kaslefsky v. Kaslefsky, (1950) 2 All E.R. 398(11); Baker v. Baker, (1955)3 All E.R. 193(12); Hall v. Hall (1962) 2 All E.R. 129(3); Chand Narain Gautam v. Smt. Saroj Gautam, AIR 1975 Raj 88; Satinderial Gupta v. Swamalata Gupta, 1981 (1) D.M.G. .92 (Delhi) (16); Dastane v. Dastane, 1975 SCR (3) 967; Vinod Kumar v. State of Punjab, 1982 Hlr .327(18); Joseph v. Joseph (1909) p. 217(19).


  1. The respondent (Brh Kishore) happens to be the husband of petitioner (Rita) and the marriage between them was solemnized on 02/03/1978 at Delhi.
  2. Rita alleged that soon after her marriage, the mother-in-law started complaining about the dowry. She later discovered that Brh Kishore was a drunkard and not only he complained about dowry but also have beaten her.
  3. Brh Kishore alleged that the petition was filed after an inordinate delay. Rita herself withdrew from his society. He denied that he was a drunkard and also denied the allegation of beating and demand of dowry.
  4. Rita filed a petition for divorce, whereas Brh Kishore also filed a petition for restitution of conjugal rights. The Trial Judge declined to consolidate the two petitions and continued to proceed with the Rita’s petition but could not make out a case of cruelty and dismissed the petition.
  5. Thus, Rita filed an appeal in the High Court.

Issues Involved:

  1. Whether the petition was presented with inordinate delay?
  2. Whether drunkenness is a valid ground for divorce?

Contention of Petitioner:

The counsel of petitioner contented that-

  1. Respondent has complained to petitioner that her parents did not give him any TV, fridge, or scooter, etc. and gave her filthy abuses. When petitioner asked the respondent to refrain from drinking, he shouted and beat her. He also told her that he could not live without drinking and was married without his consent.
  2. On 15/07/1978 the respondent came to petitioner’s parents’ house and started drinking. He demanded Rs. 2000/- and upon non-fulfilment slapped petitioner and gave her fists and blows. On 15/08/1978 petitioner visited respondent again but after giving her a severe beating, he retained all her jewellery, clothes, and other articles.

Contention of Respondent:

The counsel of respondent contented that-

  1. The finding of the court should not be lightly reopened. He further contended that allegation of drunkenness or addiction to liquor does not amount to cruelty, and the charge against him was not proven. There was no corroborative evidence.
  2. Petitioner wanted to marry a boy whom she liked even before the marriage not only that, she and her parents wanted to grab the jewellery, ornaments, etc. worth Rs. 70,000/- presented to her by the husband and his relations.


The court granted a decree of judicial separation with cost borne by Brh Kishore. The objection of inordinate delay was not sustained.

Ratio Decidendi:

  • There was absolutely no case pleaded that drunkenness was causing any damage to the health of the petitioner.
  • The objection of delay could not be sustained because the petition could be filed only after a lapse of one year from the date of marriage and this petition was filed after one year and nine months or so out of which for five months was given by the petitioner as a trial to her marriage.
  • In Matrimonial Causes Act, 1937, the ground for divorce is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. Cruelty was added as one of the grounds for divorce. Drunkenness is yet not an independent ground of any matrimonial relief in India. But it may constitute treatment with cruelty, if induced in by a spouse and continued despite remonstrance by the other.

Obiter Dicta:



The court could not find any satisfactory evidence that the drunkenness was accompanied by insults, abuses, or violence, neither the case was pleaded that drunkenness was causing any damage to the health of the petitioner. But it cannot be denied that the respondent was a habitual drunkard, and his employment and success therein does not prove that he is not so. But the letter of the respondent showed a promise and hope of reform. Thus, the court gave the respondent a chance- to correct his habit and remove the irritant which divides them.

Drafted By – Harshpreet Kaur, Lloyd Law College