Filing false and frivolous cases against her husband amounted to cruelty. “Divorce u/s 13 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955”

The Punjab and Haryana High Court recently decreed a divorce plea filed by a man after holding that the act of the wife of filing false and frivolous cases against her husband amounted to cruelty.

However, keeping in view the requirements of the wife, the bench of Justice Ritu Bahri and Justice Nidhi Gupta further granted permanent alimony of Rs. 10 Lakh to the wife as a full and final settlement of all disputes between the parties.

” Before parting, though we have held that the acts of the respondent-wife amount to cruelty against the appellant-husband, we are, however, not oblivious to her requirements. It has come on record that the appellant has been paying interim maintenance under section 125 CRPC at Rs.2500/- per month, and Rs.3000 per month was granted by the trial court under section 24 of the HMA. In these circumstances, we consider it just to direct that the husband shall pay to the wife a sum of INR 10,00,000/- (Rupees Ten Lakhs only) as one-time permanent alimony as full and final settlement of all disputes between the parties,” the Court ordered (emphasis supplied).
The case in brief

The Husband/appellant moved a petition under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955 before the family court seeking dissolution of his marriage with the respondent/wife on the ground of cruelty. The same was dismissed by the Additional District Judge, Tarn Taran in May 2017. Challenging the same, he moved to the High Court.

He submitted that he got married to the respondent/wife in the year 2009-2010. No child was born out of their wedlock and since the very beginning, his wife did not want to live in the matrimonial house along with his parents and wished to live separately.

It was further his case that his wife did not perform her matrimonial duties and would pick up quarrels on trifle matters and would insult his parents and that she had a “venom-oozing tongue”. She even threatened to involve the appellant and his family members in a false dowry case.

It was also stated that in October 2013, the father of the respondent took her away and she took all her belongings and gold ornaments with her and never came back. Thereafter, she filed a case against him and his family members under Sections 406, 498-A, and 120-B IPC, however, they all were acquitted later on.

On the other hand, the wife alleged that she was ill-treated and beaten up by her in-laws for more dowry articles and when she was left with no alternative but to register the abovesaid FIR against them, she filed a case against them. She further stated that she was thrown out of the matrimonial home in October 2013.

High Court’s observations

At the outset, the Court took note of the fact that the appellant-husband and his family members had been acquitted in the case filed against them by the wife of the appellant. The Court also noted that the Trial Court had returned very categoric findings holding that the wife entirely failed to prove its case.

In view of this, the Court further remarked thus:

” In our view, once criminal litigation is initiated between the parties it leads to a point of no return. And if it is a false case filed by the wife merely to harass and humiliate the husband and his family, then the resultant bitterness rarely leaves any room or reason for reconciliation”
Further, the Court also took note of landmark rulings of the Supreme Court to note that if the wife files a false complaint against her spouse, it amounts to cruelty and is sufficient ground for divorce.

Thus, holding that the wife’s act amounted to cruelty, the Court went ahead to note of the fact that the parties have been living separately since October 2013, and their conduct of the parties evidence that there are irreconcilable differences between them, rendering the marriage, a mere legal fiction. Consequently, the appeal was allowed.

Case title – Joginder Singh v. Rajwinder Kaur [FAO-M-12 of 2017(O&M)]

Advocate Anoop Verma, Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh

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