On 24th August 2020. A Division Bench of the Uttarakhand High Court, consisting of Hon’ble Mr Justice Ravi Malimath and Hon’ble Mr Justice Narayan Singh Dhanik, heard the case of Smt. Anita Gaur v. Sri Rajesh Gaur.
The challenge, in this case, is regarding the judgment, passed by the Principal Judge, Family Court, Dehradun, whereby the suit of the respondent for dissolution of marriage was decreed.
Facts of the Case
The marriage of Sri Rajesh Gaur (respondent) was solemnized with Smt. Anita Gaur (appellant) in 1999 as per Hindu customs and ceremonies. Immediately after the marriage, the couple shifted to Mumbai where the respondent was running his business. Two children, namely, Rishita and Divanshu were born out of the said wedlock.
In 2014, the respondent instituted a suit under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act against the appellant seeking a decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty. In his plaint, it was alleged by the respondent that about five years ago, there came a sudden change in the behaviour of the appellant and that valuable articles, jewellery, cash, etc. started going missing from their house. Thereafter, the appellant informed the respondent that she had borrowed money on interest @ 10% per month and she also purchased ornaments and clothes on credit.
The appellant started quarrelling with the respondent and she also threatened that she would get him abducted. Those who had lent money started chasing the respondent and also threatened to capture his flat. Apprehending the threat to his life and liberty, the respondent along with his wife (appellant) returned to Dehradun. Even thereafter the appellant quarrelled with the respondent and created a scene on a number of occasions, and that it was not possible for the respondent to continue to live with the appellant.
The appellant contested the suit by way of filing the written statement, wherein she admitted that she had borrowed money amounting to approximately ₹10 lacs on interest as the respondent stopped giving money for household expenses. She also alleged that her husband was very cruel, had illicit relations with another woman and that the respondent had also remarried another woman. Further, she alleged that she was being badly harassed by the respondent, and made a complaint in the Women Cell and also lodged a case under Section 494 IPC against the respondent.
Learned Counsel for the appellant contended that there was no valid evidence to prove the alleged cruelty and borrowing money from others for running the sundry household expenses cannot be said to be cruelty towards the spouse.
Learned Counsel for the respondent argued that the Court had rightly decreed the suit for divorce and held that the acts of the appellant amounted to mental cruelty. The Learned Counsel further justified the dissolution of marriage on the ground that the matrimonial ties between the parties had irretrievably broken down. The contention of the learned Counsel for the respondent was justified in annulling the marriage between the parties, especially when the parties have been living separately for more than six years.
The Court observed that the term “cruelty” has not been defined under the Act. Cruelty can be physical or mental. In the matrimonial life, cruelty may be of unfounded variety. But before the conduct called cruelty, it must touch the certain pitch of severity, and conduct should be such that no reasonable person would tolerate it.
The Court referred to the case of Praveen Mehta v. Inderjit Mehta, (2002) 5 SCC 706, which held that mental cruelty is a state of mind and feeling with one of the spouses due to behaviour or behavioural pattern by the other.
The appellant alleged that the respondent was a characterless person and he had illicit extra-marital relations with another woman and subsequently he also married another woman. All these are unfounded allegations against the plaintiff-respondent. The appellant also lodged a case for the offence under Section 494 IPC and also made a complaint against the respondent with the Women Cell. All these acts and conduct, in the Court’s view, constitute cruelty.
The Court further opined that marriage, like every other human relationship, is based on mutual trust, confidence and mutual respect. While differences may exist, as long as respect for each other remains, the marital bond will survive. The acts on the part of the appellant and the allegations about her spouse constituted actionable mental cruelty under the Hindu Marriage Act.
The Court held that there was nothing to indicate that the respondent has contributed in any way to the alleged breakdown of the marriage. It was the appellant, who by her own conduct, brought the relationship to a point of irreversible breakdown.
Considering the facts and circumstances of the case and the legal proposition propounded by the Apex Court, the Uttarakhand HC held that the learned Trial Judge committed no error in granting the decree for dissolution of marriage. Consequently, the appeal was dismissed.
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