Read Order: Devesh Yadav v. Smt. Meenal 

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, April 11, 2022:  While dealing with an appeal in a matrimonial matter where the husband invoked the appellate jurisdiction of the High Court against the order of the Trial Court dismissing his application for seeking divorce of ground of mental cruelty inflicted against him and his family by his wife, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that the wife’s conduct in filing a complaint making unfounded, indecent and defamatory allegations against her husband and parents-in-law with the motive to put them in jail, amounts to mental cruelty to the appellant-husband.

The Bench of Justice Ritu Bahri and Justice Ashok Kumar Verma held, “Respondent-wife bent upon destroying the career and reputation of the appellant-husband as she made complaints against him to his senior officers in the Air Force.”

The Court also asserted, “Filing of the complaint and initiation of criminal proceedings which were found to be baseless and false, do cause harassment and torture to the husband and his family. One such complaint is sufficient to constitute matrimonial cruelty.”

Brief facts of the case were such that appellant-husband filed a petition under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act for dissolution of marriage by a decree of divorce pleading therein that from the solemnization of their marriage in 1998, the conduct, behavior and attitude of the respondent-wife had been cruel, unwarranted and harsh and she used to pick up quarrels over trifles without any justifiable cause. 

The husband claimed that the respondent deserted him in April, 2002 and since then she had not returned to her matrimonial home, despite all love and affection given by the appellant. It was further alleged that respondent failed to discharge her matrimonial duties and obligations and rather she ill-treated and mal-treated the appellant, caused physical and mental cruelty upon him, did not cooperate in married life and made his life hell. Thus, the appellant was compelled to institute a divorce petition in 2006. 

During the course of these proceedings, respondent agreed to withdraw her complaint made to the Air Force (as the appellant was working in the Indian Air Force) authorities as well as the application for maintenance filed before the Senior Air Force Officer, on withdrawal of said petition by the appellant. In 2008, the matter was compromised on the basis of separate statements and the petition filed by the appellant was dismissed as withdrawn. 

However, despite the above-stated undertaking, the respondent-wife did not withdraw her complaint and maintenance application filed before the Senior Air Force Officer and did not join the company of the appellant at the matrimonial home at the place of his posting.  Therefore, appellant sought decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty and desertion. 

The District Judge, Rohtak dismissed the divorce petition of the husband, hence, he approached the High Court in appeal for setting aside this judgment and decree. 

Before the family Court, the respondent-wife contested the divorce petition by denying all the allegations leveled against her. Also, while coming up with such denial, she alleged that she was not continuously absent from the company of the appellant- husband since 2002. She also alleged that the husband himself turned her out of his house and that he also leveled allegation of carrying illegitimate pregnancy when she conceived for the second time. 

It was the case of the appellant’s counsel that the respondent-wife deserted him despite his best efforts at making this marriage work. It was further contended that the wife made complaints to the senior officers of the husband in the Air Force, which caused great mental cruelty to him and affected his service career. He added that on a false complaint filed by the respondent-wife, an FIR under Sections 498-A, 406, 313, 323, 506 IPC was registered against the appellant-husband and his parents. 

During investigation, parents of the appellant were found innocent whereas appellant was tried for these offences and during the pendency of present appeal the trial Court, finding the allegations against the appellant-husband false, acquitted him of the charges. The false complaint leveling serious allegations against the appellant is itself a cruelty by the respondent. Thus, the Counsel contended that there was no possibility of reconciliation of the marriage and the marriage was irretrievably broken. 

Finding substance in the case of the appellant-husband, the Court opined (after perusing the wife’s testimony before the Trial Court) that entire case set up by her stands demolished from her own statement wherein she has admitted in so many words that despite compromise, as assured, she had not withdrawn the complaint filed by her before the Air Force authorities and the application for maintenance before Senior Air Force officer. It is also clear from her statement that even after compromise she had not resided with the appellant rather visited him at Sirsa 7/8 times. 

In light of the above, the Court opined that the respondent-wife bent upon destroying the career and reputation of the appellant-husband as she made complaints against him to his senior officers in the Air Force. 

Further, in response to the argument of the wife’s counsel contending that the criminal complaint resulting in lodging of the present FIR against the husband after the divorce petition was filed, the Court opined that no doubt, criminal complaint was made by the respondent-wife after filing of the divorce petition by the appellant-husband, however, the fact remains that earlier also she filed complaints against the appellant before his senior officers in the Air force, which she assured to withdraw after withdrawal of the said petition for divorce by the appellant-husband. 

Additionally, on the conduct of the respondent-wife, the Court opined that her conduct in filing a complaint making unfounded, indecent and defamatory allegations against her husband and parents-in-law indicates that she made all attempts to ensure that appellant and his parents are put in jail and the appellant is removed from his job, and it amounts to mental cruelty to the appellant-husband.

Lastly, on the question of whether the marriage between the two parties broke beyond repair, the Court opined that In the present case, the marriage between the parties had broken down irretrievably and there is no chance of their coming together, or living together again. Thus, while holding that it would be disastrous for the parties if decree of divorce was not granted. 

Thus, keeping in view the extra-ordinary facts and circumstances of the case, the appeal was allowed.

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