The Delhi High Court has upheld a decree of divorce in favour of a Judicial Officer on the ground of mental cruelty on account of a series of false accusations and complaints made by the Officer's wife against him.
The Judgment was passed by a Division Bench of Justices GS Sistani and Jyoti Singh.
The Judicial Officer’s (husband) plea seeking divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 was allowed by a Family Court not on the basis of the assertions in the divorce petition but on the basis of the allegations made by the wife and her father.
Such allegations included the demand for dowry, promiscuity, and registration of FIR under Section 498A/406 of IPC against the husband and his family members.
The Family Court had concluded that cumulatively, the entire history of the litigation certainly brought a great deal of mental harassment, torture and resulted in mental cruelty as far as the husband was concerned. It added that the conduct of the wife demonstrated sheer vengeance which left no scope of reconciliation. Therefore, there was a complete or irretrievable breakdown of marriage as well, it was concluded.
An appeal against the decree of divorce was thus preferred by the wife.
The wife argued that the Family Court simply relied upon the allegations made by her against the husband either in her written statement or during the course of her evidence and there were no pleadings or evidence which would establish the ground of cruelty.
The wife also disputed the Family Court’s reliance on the doctrine of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage on the ground that the same as a ground for divorce was not available to either of the parties.
The husband, on the other hand, submitted that the wife indulged in every form of cruelty to browbeat him as she made repeated complaints to the Chief Justice of India, the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court, the concerned District Judges etc.
Such complaints pertained to allegations of corruption, an illicit relationship with women, dowry demand, etc. It was added that the wife even made a complaint about the demand of dowry, a complaint under Section 498-A IPC and gave interviews to several media houses in relation to the allegations.
To counter the wife’s contention of lack of pleadings and evidence with respect to cruelty, the husband submitted that admissions made by a party are the best proof of the facts admitted. Such admissions are fully binding on the party that makes them stand on a higher footing than the evidentiary admissions, it was argued.
It was also submitted that although irretrievable breakdown of marriage was not a ground available for grant of a decree of divorce, it was a factor considered by the Courts along with the ground of cruelty.
After hearing the parties, the Court held that there could be no doubt that subsequent events that emerged in the evidence of the parties and were admitted by the witnesses during Trial could be relied upon by the Courts.
The Court noted that in the present case, it was on record that the wife along with her father had made several complaints against the husband in 2001 to various Authorities which included the President of India, the Chief Justice of India, the Prime Minister of India, the Governor of Uttar Pradesh, the Chief Justice of High Court of Allahabad, the concerned District Judges and also to the Bar Associations. It also noted that the parties had been living separately for about eighteen years.
The Court further relied on the wife’s cross-examination to further record that the allegations against the husband were made on instructions of her father and the criminal complaints were filed only to “teach him a lesson”.
In view of these facts, the Court opined that the wife had treated the husband with cruelty and "made his life miserable by leveling false allegations against him" and the decree of divorce on grounds of mental cruelty was thus justified.
“Taking into account all the complaints made by the appellant/wife and her father against the respondent/husband, it can be inferred that the appellant/husband has been treated with mental cruelty and faced ignominy being a Judicial Officer. We are of the view that the decree of divorce granted by the Family Court deserves to be affirmed on the ground of mental cruelty.”
The Court further added that although the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage by itself was not a ground for divorce under HMA, it was a circumstance that could be taken into account when cruelty is proved.
“There is no doubt that irretrievable breakdown of marriage has been blended with cruelty in recent judgments so as to dissolve the marriage between the parties, where the marriage is completely dead and beyond repair.”, it said.
Accordingly, the decree of divorce was upheld and the appeal was dismissed
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