Bombay High court Law Insider

Bhuvana Marni

Published on: October 6, 2022 at 20:48 IST

The Bombay High Court has ruled that the Hindu Marriage Act does not define a wife’s wish to work as cruelty.

An appeal was being heard by the division bench of Justices Atul Chandurkar and Urmila Joshi-Phalke over the family court’s decision to deny the husband a divorce because cruelty had not been established.

The husband said that ever since they were married, his wife had argued with him and harassed him by urging him to look for a job and expressing her desire to do so. She was accused of leaving her spouse without a good cause and treating him cruelly.

After giving birth to their first child, the wife said that she had accepted parenthood. Due to illness, the second pregnancy was aborted.

Furthermore, there is no proof that the husband tried to win back his wife and kid or made any financial arrangements to support them.

According to her, her husband and his sisters had doubts about her character and she had to leave the marital home.

The court observed that the husband hasn’t cited a single instance to demonstrate that they disagree on the wife’s desire to work. The sole accusation is that his wife was intimidating him by letting him know she wanted the job.

According to the court, family life’s normal wear and tear must be separated from acts of cruelty. The husband would not object if his wife took up the task.

He does not specifically describe how he was harassed, and his claim that his wife was harassing him is ambiguous.

Claims of cruelty cannot be dismissed as unimportant matters; they must have a basis in the context of the alleged cruelty’s time, place, and manner for a divorce to be granted.

The court held that, “Expressing desire by wife who is well qualified that she wants to do the job does not amount to cruelty.”

“The appellant/husband has to make out a specific case that the conduct of wife was such a nature that it was difficult for him to lead the life along with her………The allegations made by him falls under routine wear and tear in the nature.”

Given that their kid was a baby and she had to take care of him, the court found that the wife had assumed parental responsibility for the child since she delayed starting her tuition studies.

However, even if the husband’s argument were to be accepted as is, the woman would still have had the freedom to choose whether or not to carry the child to term.

“It is well settled that the right of a woman to have reproductive choice is an integrable part of her personal liberty as envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Admittedly, she cannot be forced to give birth to a child,”  the court stated in its order.

The husband had not made any attempts to bring his wife back for cohabitation, the court observed based on the facts.

According to the court, the desire to work after receiving a post-graduate degree is not unusual because every qualified individual wants to put the information they have acquired to use.

The court noted that there was no proof that the wife’s behaviour toward the husband when expressing her wish to get the job was unpleasant and haughty.

According to the court, the wife’s explanation for leaving the marital home—that of her husband and a certain character—seems more plausible than her sister’s.

The court stated that the second and one spouse’s desertion is purposeful and without justifiable expense. For desertion, it is necessary to permanently demonstrate the reality of the separation and the intention and prohibition.

According to the court, there is no proof that the wife wanted to end their relationship permanently. The husband attempted to get a divorce, but the court ruled that he had not established there had been cruelty in this case.

The court emphasised that mere annoyance and normal wear and tear do not qualify as cruelty. The court further ruled that the husband had not established that the wife had deserted him.

As a result, the court denied the husband’s request for a divorce and rejected his appeal.

Case Title – Pundlik Yevatkar vs. Sau. Ujwala @ Shubhangi Pundlik Yevatkar

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