Read Order: Rajveer Singh v. Gaganjot Kaur 

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, March 10, 2022: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has observed that once the parties have separated and separation has continued for a sufficient length of time and any one of them has presented a petition for divorce, then it can be presumed that the marriage has broken down. 

The Division Bench of Justices Ritu Bahri and Ashok Kumar Verma also said, “The Court, no doubt, should seriously make an endeavour to reconcile the parties; yet, if it is found that the breakdown is irreparable, then divorce should not be withheld. The consequences of preservation in law of the unworkable marriage which has long ceased to be effective are bound to be a source of greater misery for the parties.”

In this matter, it was the appellant’s case that the marriage between the parties was solemnized in 2010, however, due to opposition by the respondent-wife, the marriage could not be consummated. Further, he contended that the respondent-wife had no regard for him and his ailing parents and that she was forcing him to live at her parental home. He also submitted that the wife went to her home (parental) on the pretext of getting enrolled in a PhD program in Lucknow and since then, she did not come back even after repeated attempts made at conciliation of the matter, made by the appellant’s family, the Panchayat, the Army Wives Welfare Association. He also submitted that she was a habitual litigant who made several attempts at harming the appellant’s job and reputation. 

The appellant also claimed that he filed a Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 application for restitution of conjugal rights and the same was decreed ex-prate. Thereafter, the appellant-husband filed a petition under Sections 12 and 13 of HMA for a decree of nullity and dissolution of the marriage between him and the respondent-wife, by a decree of divorce on the grounds of cruelty and desertion. 

This petition was contested by the respondent-wife who denied all the allegations levelled against her. She argued that she was cordial towards the appellant and his family, and it was the appellant who withdrew her from his company. She also argued that contrary to the appellant’s claim, they had a huge wedding in which multiple dowry items were given. She further submitted that no one came to take her back to the appellant’s house and that she was thrown out of her matrimonial house by the appellant, in the first place. Regarding ex-parte decree against her in response to the Section 9 HMA petition of the appellant, it was contended that due to some lapse on the part of her counsel, neither she nor her counsel could appear in the Court, and as soon as she came to know about the ex parte decree, she filed an application under Order 9 Rule 13 of the Code of Civil Procedure

While trying the petition, the family court held that the appellant miserably failed to prove that the respondent withdrew from his society without any sufficient cause with an intention to put the matrimonial relationship to an end permanently. Therefore, the appellant was not held entitled to a decree of divorce under Section 13(1)(i-b) of the Act of 1955.

Hence, the present appeal was filed impugning the family Court decision. 

At the outset, the Court made observations on the nature of matrimonial matters. The Court opined that matrimonial matters are matters of delicate human and emotional relationship which demands mutual trust, regard, respect, love and affection with sufficient play for reasonable adjustments with the spouse. Further, the Court said that the matrimonial conduct has now come to be governed by statute framed, keeping in view such norms and changed social order. It is sought to be controlled in the interest of the individuals as well as in broader perspective, for regulating matrimonial norms for making of a well-knit, healthy and not a disturbed and porous society, added the Bench with the observation that the institution of marriage occupies an important place and role to play in the society, in general.  

The Court further noted that the issue before it was whether the relationship of the husband and wife has come to an end and if the wife is not ready to give mutual divorce to the appellant-husband, whether this act of her, would amount to cruelty towards the husband, keeping in view the fact that she is not staying with her husband for the last ten years and there is no scope that they can cohabit as husband and wife again. 

On the factual aspects of the Court, the Court inclined towards the case advanced by the appellant-husband. The Court observed that the respondent deserted the appellant without reasonable cause and she refused to comply with the decree under Section 9 of the Act of 1955 and that she made false complaints to the superiors of the appellant to affect his career progress. It was further noted that the appellant-husband succeeded in proving desertion on the part of the respondent, who was unable to prove any reasonable or sufficient cause to withdraw from the company of the appellant. 

“Had she been interested in joining the company of the appellant, she would have obeyed the decree of the Family Court instead of filing an application for setting it aside”, added the Court. 

On the multiple litigation filed by the wife, the Court opined that the explanation given by the respondent that she was pursuing her legal remedies in accordance with law was not tenable in the light of the observations made by the Supreme Court in the case of Joydeep Majumdar v. Bharti Jaiswal Majumdar, (2021) 3 Supreme Court Cases 742.  Additionally, the Court also opined that the conduct of the respondent-wife in filing a complaint making unfounded, indecent and defamatory allegations against her mother-in-law, who is suffering from cancer, indicated that she made all attempts to ensure that the appellant and his parents are put in jail and the appellant is removed from his job and that this conduct caused mental cruelty to the appellant-husband. 

On the irretrievable breaking of a marriage, the Court referred to the Supreme Court of India in a case of Chandra Kala Trivedi vs. Dr. S.P.Trivedi, 1993 (4) SCC 232 wherein it was held that in these cases, the decree of divorce can be granted where both the parties have levelled such allegations against each other that the marriage appears to be practically dead and the parties cannot live together.

In this backdrop, the Court opined that in the present case, the marriage between the parties broke down irretrievably and there was no chance of their coming together or living together again and that not granting a decree of divorce would be disastrous for the parties. 

Thus, applying the ratio of the judgments cited to the facts of the present case and keeping in view the extra-ordinary facts and circumstances of the case, the appeal was allowed, the impugned judgment was set aside and decree of divorce was granted accordingly in favour of the appellant-husband. 

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