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Abusing a spouse and spouse’s family using derogatory terms, amounts to cruelty : SC Case: Vinod Kumar Subbiah v. Saraswathi Palaniappan

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In the instant case related to dissolution of marriage, the Division Bench of Vikramjit Sen and A.M Sapre, JJ., observed that a spouse abusing the other using derogatory terms; calling the police on flimsy grounds and refusing to allow close relatives to visit and reside in the matrimonial home, all this amounts to cruelty towards the other spouse, and cannot be termed as normal wear and tear of family life.

In the present case, the appellant had filed for divorce under Section 13 (1) (i-a) of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 on the ground that the respondent was verbally abusive towards his family and would often threaten to lodge false police complaint or commit suicide and used derogatory words like “belonging to prostitute family” for the appellant and his sister. The appellant pleaded through his counsel Vikas Mehta, that he had suffered mental agony of such degree that it became impossible for him continue the marriage with the respondent. On the contrary the respondent through her counsel Shadan Farasat pleaded that, the appellant had been living a wayward life and she was being regularly harassed by her in-laws. The respondent further filed a petition seeking restitution of conjugal rights under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, along with a maintenance petition seeking Rs. 2 lakhs per month as maintenance. On careful perusal of the evidences provided by the appellant, the Trial Court found the allegations levelled by the appellant to be true, therefore the order of dissolution of marriage was passed. On appeal, the Madras High Court dismissed the divorce petition terming the allegations of the appellant to be nothing more than “ordinary wear and tear” that takes place in a marriage.

On perusal of the background of the case and the arguments, the Division Bench was of the view that the appellant had sufficiently proved the instances of mental cruelty presenting various evidences and documents. The Court further observed that keeping with the requirements of Order VI Rule 2 of CPC, the Trial Court meticulously examined the evidences and gave out a well reasoned decision concluding that the respondent’s actions amounted to cruelty upon the appellant, thus the Madras High Court was not justified in setting aside the decision of the Trial Court without giving substantial reasons. Therefore the Court restored the Trial Court’s decision to dissolve the marriage of the parties setting aside the impugned decision of the High Court.

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