Read Order: Harbans Kaur v. Joginder Pal

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, May 19, 2022: While dealing with an appeal filed by a wife challenging the divorce decree granted by the Family Court on the ground of cruelty and desertion, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that even if husband and wife are staying together and a husband does not speak to the wife, it would cause mental cruelty and a spouse staying away by sending vulgar and defamatory letters or notices, filing complaints containing indecent allegations or by initiating a number of judicial proceedings can make the life of other spouse miserable.

The Bench of Justices Ritu Bahri and Ashok Kumar Verma made reference to the Supreme Court wherein it was held that even one complaint lodged by the wife against the husband and his family members, which was found to be false amounts to cruelty. 

Before the Court, the appellant-wife came up in an appeal against the judgment and decree of the Family Court wherein the Husband’s (respondent) petition under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (‘the HMA’) seeking dissolution of marriage by a decree of divorce was allowed and he was granted a divorce.

On December 12, 1992, the marriage of the appellant- wife (Harbans Kaur) was solemnized with respondent-Joginder Pal in Patiala, as per Hindu rites. Four children were born out of this wedlock. As per the respondent-husband, when he filed a petition under Section 13 of the HMA, the behaviour of the wife was very cruel, barbaric, rude and crude towards the respondent from the very beginning.

The appellant-wife earlier filed a divorce petition and a compromise was effected between the parties. The appellant-wife thereafter filed a petition under Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act on May 03, 2011, and the same was dismissed vide an order dated February 26, 2014. 

Appeal against the said order was also dismissed. The appellant also registered an FIR under Sections 323, 325, 506 and 34 IPC against the respondent but in that case, he was acquitted. It was further stated that the wife tried to take forcible possession of the agricultural land owned and possessed by the respondent in Karnal and a civil suit against the appellant has been pending in District Courts, Karnal. 

It was also alleged that the appellant was living in adultery with some person in the year 2012 and she forcibly turned out the respondent along with his four children from the house. Since then, the husband has been residing in a rented house and no cohabitation took place between them since then. 

The divorce was granted on the grounds of cruelty and desertion.

The Court perused the divorce order and observed that the above-said facts were sufficient to return a finding that the respondent-husband met with cruelty by the appellant-wife. The Court made reference to several decisions of the Supreme Court wherein it was propounded that even one complaint lodged by the wife against the husband and his family members and which is found to be false, amounts to cruelty.

In light of the above, the Court held that even if the husband and wife are staying together and the husband does not speak to the wife, it would cause mental cruelty and a spouse staying away by sending vulgar and defamatory letters or notices or filing complaints containing indecent allegations or by initiating a number of judicial proceedings can make the life of other spouse miserable.

Thus, in the facts of the present case, the Court opined that after the acquittal in the FIR and dismissal of the domestic violence complaint as reflected above, enough mental cruelty was caused to the husband.

Thus, while holding that the counsel for the appellant was unable to point out any illegality or infirmity in the impugned judgment and decree calling for interference in the decision of the lower court, the Court dismissed the petition. 

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