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Suman Singh v. Sanjay Singh

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Citations: Suman Singh v. Sanjay Singh, (2017) 4 SCC 85 

Date of Judgement: 08/03/2017

Case No: Civil Appeal No. 7114-7115 of 2014

Case Type: Civil Appeal

Appellant: Suman Singh

Respondent: Sanjay Singh

Bench: Hon’ble Justice R.K. Agrawal and Hon’ble Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre

Court: Supreme Court of India

Statute Referred:

Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; Sections – 9, 13, 13(1)(ia)

Case Referred:

Samar Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh [(2007) 4 SCC 511]

Facts:

  • The marriage between Suman Singh and Sanjay Singh was solemnized on 26/02/1999 as per the Hindu rites.
  • Sanjay Singh filed a petition for dissolution of marriage on ground of “cruelty” under section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act.
  • Suman Singh denied the allegations and also applied for restitution of conjugal rights against Sanjay Singh in the same proceedings by filing a petition under section 9 of the Act.
  • Family Court granted decree for dissolution of marriage in the favour of Sanjay Singh.
  • Suman Singh appealed before the High Court.High Court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the Judgment of the Trial Court.
  • Feeling aggrieved by the decision of High Court, Suman Singh has filed appeals by special leave against the Judgment to Supreme Court.

Issues Involved:

  1. Whether after solemnization of marriage, the appellant has treated the respondent with cruelty?
  2. Whether the High Court was justified in granting decree for dissolution of marriage to the respondent and, in consequence, was justified in dismissing the petition for restitution of conjugal rights filed by the appellant?

 Contention of Appellant:

The counsel of the appellant contented that-

  1. It was the respondent who has withdrawn from the appellant’s company without there being a reasonable cause.
  2. Appellant denying the case set up by the respondent justified her case for restitution of conjugal rights.

Contention of Respondent:

The counsel of the respondent contented that-

  1. There were 9 instances of cruelty which included appellant’s rude behaviour towards the respondent and his family, her disinterest in family functions and household works etc.
  2. Further appellant had made an allegation against respondent of having an extra-matrimonial relation which constitutes as a ground of cruelty.
  3. Furthermore, both the spouses were living in separate homes for quite a long time, thus the respondent is entitled to a divorce.

Judgement:

The appeal was allowed. The impugned Judgment of High Court was set aside. Dissolution of marriage was dismissed, as a consequence thereof, the marriage between the parties was held to subsist whereas restitution of conjugal right was allowed.

Ratio Decidendi:

  • In Samar Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh, 16 categories of cases were enumerated which are considered relevant while examining the question as to whether the facts alleged and proved constitute “mental cruelty” so as to attract the provisions of section 13(1)(ia) of the Act for granting decree of divorce.
  • None of the grounds satisfies either individually or collectively the test laid down in Samar Ghosh’s case so as to entitle the respondent to claim a decree of divorce.

Obiter Dicta:

N/A

Conclusion:

Cruelty which is one of the grounds for dissolution of marriage need not be physical only; mental cruelty also comes under the scope of cruelty. However, the word “cruelty” used in section 13(1)(ia)  of Hindu Marriage Act is not defined under the Act. Thus 16 categories of cases were laid down in Samar Ghose case to test whether the facts constitute mental cruelty or not. The Court in this case examined the 16 categories, but the test was failed. The Court also believed that “A decree for divorce cannot be granted on one isolated incident and mere exchange of verbal conversation in the presence of others should not be sufficient to prove act of cruelty.” Thus, the Court allowed the appeal and the marriage between the parties subsisted.

Drafted By – Harshpreet Kaur, Lloyd Law College