Libertatem Magazine

Can the Filing of Multiple Complaints Against a Spouse Be Grounds for Divorce?

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Samar Ghosh and Jaya Ghosh are standing before the district court having their entire pleadings and pieces of evidence being analyzed against each other. But what happened as such that they stood up to the gates of justice? Unfortunately, the present case is a case of dissolution of marriage also called divorce. What is the cause of these disagreements between them and resulting from these circumstances? So, let’s flashback.  Samar and Jaya live together in Calcutta. The couple is designated to the post of Senior IAS officer. Jaya had a daughter from her previous marriage, therefore she unilaterally decided not to have a child for two years. After a year of their marriage passed Samar became severely ill and Jaya left him alone and went to Bareilly. After two years Samar was transferred from Calcutta but due to his prolonged illness he was transferred back to Calcutta and they started to live together again. One fine morning Jaya shouted at Samar in the presence of her father and their cook-cum-servant and humiliated him as if he had been living in the flat without any right and yelled at him as if he did not have any self-respect. Samar felt extremely humiliated and insulted so he left the house at once. After that scene, they parted ways and Samar decided to divorce her on the grounds of mental cruelty. 

Mental cruelty? What do we mean by it? Can Samar seek justice in his case? What are the various grounds of divorce? What conditions are considered to be in the purview of mental cruelty? Can filing multiple complaints can cause mental cruelty? So, to answer these questions, let us delve deeper into the subject.


Marriage is conceived to be a sacramental union and an institution but sadly there is an end to this social institution too when there is discord among the partners. During the process of divorce,  there are some of the many traumatizing experiences, from emotional breakdown to the fact of lengthy divorce procedures prevailing in India which sometimes also extend for years. It is quite evident that one must consider these things before filing a divorce. India is a land of varied cultures and religions which have their separate religious laws inclusive of marriage laws. The Hindus have The Hindu Marriage Act of 1956 governing their marriage and divorces which also applies for the Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains while the Islamic, Christian, Parsi, and many more communities have their own individual laws. There are also laws like the Special Marriage Act, 1956 which aims to serve the purpose of couples from different castes or communities. Another law which is called the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969 seeks to lay provisions on marriage and divorce when either of the partners belongs to a nation other than India. With time there has been much progress in the laws governing these matters and further social awareness and acts passed by the government which is quite noticeable with advancement in the procedure in these affairs concerning gender-related issues or other sensitive issues.


The ground of divorce is mainly categorized under three heads. So, let us take a glance at these categorizations.


Under Section 13 B of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, the concept of mutual consent means that the parties are willing to get separated peacefully and dissolute their marriage in a simple manner. Here the ultimate requirement is of a common consensus between them.  This consensus has further two aspects. One is that of seeking alimony or maintenance. It may or may not be specified in monetary terms. Another is Child Custody which can either be joint or shared or even exclusive to one partner which varies depending on the case. But this type has certain limitations such as parties who are intending to file this divorce must wait for a year from the date of their marriage. They have to show they have been living separately and are not able to get along with each other. But there is yet another thing to be considered that is if one of the parties wants to withdraw from the mutual consent then they can file an application stating that they do not wish to seek a divorce through mutual consent and in that case the other partner has no other option than that of to file a petition under the provisions laid in the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955. And in these cases, divorce can only be granted on certain specified grounds which are elucidated in the forthcoming discussion.


Under the case of a contested divorce, the petitions can be moved on certain specific grounds. Unlike the divorce, with mutual consent, either of the partners cannot file it against the other without specifying any valid reason which further rests on the court if it grants it or not. Contested Divorce can be for the following reasons :


Cruelty either in the form of physical or mental can be one of the grounds. If either of the partners has reasonable agitation against the other which is likely to inflict an injury or harm or even perturbation in a severe manner it is sufficient enough to obtain a divorce due to the cruelty of the partner.


If either of the partners commits adultery or is accused of infidelity they can be charged for a criminal offense in India, but it is applicable for the case of a male partner while in the case of a female partner she cannot be charged with infidelity, though her spouse can obtain prosecution for the male adulterer.


When one of the spouses deserts the other without any reasonable cause then the deserted spouse needs to have proof of desertion and intention of desertion should be there.


Divorce can also be moved in the case if one of the partners converts himself or herself into another religion. It is to be noted that this sort of divorce can be filed at any time.


If one of the partners suffers from some sort of mental illness, which interrupts their efficiency in the performance of normal spousal duties required in a married year then it can be considered one of the grounds.


If one of the partners suffers from a communicable disease such as an incurable form of leprosy, HIV, AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhea then the other party could obtain a divorce.


If one of the spouses renounces the world and decides to live a life of austerity then the other spouse can file for divorce.


If one of the spouses is presumed to be dead or not heard to be alive for a period of seven years then the partner who is alive can obtain the decree of divorce.



There are certain grounds where a marriage can be rendered void. Such as in the case of bigamy or polygamy or even in the case of polyandry or if the person falls into prohibited or illegitimate relationships then the aggrieved party can file a divorce against the other.



According to section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1855 cruelty is any form of perturbation that leads to bad consequences either physically or mentally. It refers to that conduct that is quite grave. Further, mental cruelty is abusing a person to that extent that is injurious to their health.

What is the purview of mental cruelty?

According to section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, a case of cruelty can be filed on the grounds of:

  • Willful  infidelity by one of the parties or committing adultery by either of the parties
  • Desertion of his/her partner for a continuous period of time not less than two years and not allowing him or her to be part of their personal affairs or disclosing them
  • When either of them demoralizes the other and in any way restricting the means of being independent leaving the other with no option other than depending on the another
  • Doing such acts which tarnish the reputation of the other and also results in public humiliation which also includes yelling or abusing
  • Physical violence on the other party; and the list goes on and on…

Furthermore elaborated under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code

  • Any voluntary conduct that drives the wife to either commit suicide or cause grave injuries or inflicts peril to mental or physical health.
  • Harassing the female partner in such a manner with the intention to either coerce her or her relations to meet unlawful demands, be it for property or valuable goods.

As to the reference with the filing of multiple complaints against one spouse by another can be in the ambit of mental cruelty because these complaints tarnish the reputation of the aggrieved spouse and create a bad reputation in the public because we are quite familiar with how society sees a deviant person. Further, even when the allegations turn out to be false the other individual suffers for what he has not done. So filing a plethora of cases can lead to traumatizing situations. It harms the morale of the concerned person against whom it is made.


The concept of cruelty has evolved quite a lot with the time pacing by, from individual to individual or even place to place and in a few instances with economic or social status.

In RAJ TALREJA V/S KAVITA TALREJA the parties had got married according to Hindu rites in 1989. The couple lived with the parents of the husband till the year 1999, and then they shifted to a residence of their own. It was after that, that the husband left the house and filed a divorce petition against his wife, as she had filed a suit for injunction thereby not permitting the husband in the matrimonial house. She followed this by making serious allegations against him through the newspaper which was upon her intimation. It didn’t end there, she filed a complaint to the State women’s commission with grave accusations and sent a similar letter to the chief justice of the high court and another complaint to the chief minister of the state. Later these accusations were found to be false. The wife lodged an FIR against the husband but the police found out that the injuries were self-inflicted and she was then initiated under Section 182 of the Indian Penal Code. Following that the husband moved a petition for divorce on the grounds of cruelty incorporating the facts of false complaints. The ratio decidendi of the Hon’ble court was even if the wife was in an agitated state of mind that did not give her any right to file defamatory statements against her husband. The court granted the divorce on the grounds of cruelty because those false accusations made by her to the government authorities had tarnished his reputation and false accusations like being beaten by her husband and family members, attempts to set her on fire were serious, and taking the note of that it had greatly affected husband’s reputation.

Likewise, the High court of Uttarakhand further widened the ambit in the case of ANITA GAUR V/S SRI RAJESH GAUR where the wife had borrowed money without the knowledge of the husband and stole jewelry and other precious ornaments from her own house when the money was not paid the goons started threatening her husband and allegations were made against him to be characterless and wife also lodged false complaints in woman cell. The court finally held the verdict in the favour of the husband and granted the divorce on the grounds of cruelty.



Nowadays, there has been an increase in the number of divorces filed but in the instance of cruelty, the cases have been comparatively less because people do prefer to settle it out of court and amongst themselves. It should be understood that these petitions should be filed in grave cases because normal fights and nit-picks are quite common in any matrimonial relationship but they should not be filed for trivial issues rather, for helping oneself to safeguard one’s rights in case of a violation. Concerning the laws on cruelty which are quite stringent made by the state laws so filing them cannot be at any instance. Steering towards the end of our discussion the answer to the case of Samar and Jaya lies in the fact that the sort of treatment he meted out from Jaya. So, Mr. Ghosh finally gets his wife divorced and leads an independent carefree life. So on an optimistic note people are not filing many cases for cruelty. It should be noted that filing multiple complaints can lead to tarnishing of one’s reputation and amounts to the lengthy procedure of courts.

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