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Delhi HC Grants Divorce Decree Citing False Allegations Against Woman’s Chastity as “Greatest Cruelty”

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Published on: 07 September 2023 at 09:58 IST

The Delhi High Court, in a recent ruling, underlined that there can be no greater cruelty than falsely accusing a woman of impropriety, as it granted a divorce decree to a woman on the grounds of cruelty and desertion.

The court took note of the fact that the couple had been living apart for the past 27 years.

The high court clarified that the term “mental cruelty” encompasses various aspects, including financial instability. It emphasized that financial instability can lead to mental anguish, especially when the husband is not financially stable due to unemployment or lack of a stable business or profession. This, in itself, can be considered a consistent source of mental cruelty towards the wife.

The court asserted, “It emerges that ‘mental cruelty’ cannot be defined in any straight jacket parameter. The circumstances and the situation of the spouses have to be considered to ascertain if certain acts, which are complained of, would be a source of mental agony and pain. In the present case, it is easy to decipher the mental trauma as the appellant (woman) was working and the respondent (husband) was not working. There was a huge disparity in the financial status of the appellant and the respondent. The endeavours of the respondent to be able to sustain himself had admittedly failed.”

The case involved a woman who challenged the family court’s decision to reject her plea for a divorce decree based on allegations of cruelty and desertion.

The woman argued that her husband had falsely accused her of having inappropriate relationships with her brother-in-law and other individuals.

The court found that the husband’s response was vague and cited constant interference from her brother-in-law and other family members, corroborating the woman’s claims.

The high court emphatically stated, “There can be no greater cruelty than making false allegations against the chastity of a woman.”

The court further observed that a dysfunctional relationship only brings suffering and misery, and it could not condone perpetuating such mental cruelty. It recognized that the prolonged separation of more than 27 years since December 1996 warranted the dissolution of the marriage on the grounds of cruelty under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

The couple had married in 1989, and no children were born to them. They decided to part ways in 1996.

The woman asserted that before their marriage, she believed her husband to be a Delhi University graduate with a monthly income of Rs 10,000 from various sources, and his family was financially well-off with ownership of a substantial bungalow. However, post-marriage, she discovered that her husband was neither a graduate nor employed, and he relied solely on money from his mother.

The man refuted all allegations, including those of dowry demands and cruelty.

The high court pointed out that the prolonged separation without reconciliation for nearly 27 years indicated an inability to sustain their marital relationship, which, in itself, amounted to mental cruelty.