IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
Case Name-Narendra vs. K.Meena
Bench-Anil R.Dave, L.Nageswara Rao Narendra-Appellant
Decided on -6-10-2016
The issue raised -Separating husband from his parents as a ground for Contested Divorce in India.
Facts of the Case-The appeal before the Supreme Court was filed by the husband against the decision of the High Court that turned the divorce decree filed by him against his wife on the grounds of cruelty.
The parties i.e. the husband and wife got married in February 1992 and had a daughter who was born in November 1993. The husband stated that the wife did not leave with him happily even for a month after their marriage. The contested divorce petition was filed by the husband due to the wife’s suspicious nature and leveling of frivolous by serious allegations charged by her against the husband. The wife also put allegations on the husband of having an extramarital affair with the maid who worked for the family.
The wife’s behavior made it difficult for the husband to live with her as she also wanted him to leave his parents and other family members and get separated from them to live independently. Another allegation by the husband was that the wife often threatened him that she would commit suicide. In July 1995, she fought with the husband, went to the bathroom and poured kerosene on herself in an attempt to commit suicide. The husband, his brother and some neighbors rushed in to prevent her from committing suicide.
In November 2001, the husband filed a contested divorce application with the trial court against the wife on the grounds of mental cruelty. The trial court granted a decree of divorce considering these facts and the wife filed an appeal with the High Court that set aside the divorce decree in 2006. The husband filed the appeal against the decision of the High Court with the apex court with the help of a divorce lawyer in India.
Cruelty As A Ground For Divorce In The Case
Independent witnesses and neighbors of the husband also corroborated that the husband saved his wife from committing suicide. The court also considered the false allegations levied by the wife about the husband’s extramarital affair with their maid and found them to be completely baseless as no maid has ever worked in their house.
The court considered the unreasonable demands made by the
wife to get the husband separated from his family members. The wife wanted the
husband to live separately from his
family to have access to his earnings. It was also found that the wife deserted the husband after the attempt to suicide. Considering all these facts, the Supreme Court held that the husband was rightfully entitled to get a divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
Arguments/Contentions Argument Advanced By Petitioner
According to the petitioner Section -13 (1)( i-a) of Hindu Marriage Act,1995 prescribes that after the solemnization of the marriage, treated the petitioner with cruelty. The husband can petition for divorce on cruelty ground.
According to the Respondent (wife), it was proved wrong that her husband has extramarital affairs with maid instead their was no maid working in the home.
Arguments in favour of the Respondent
According to IPC Section 498-A, the wife and her parental family can charge any or all members of the husband’s family of physical or mental cruelty. The wife wanted the husband to live separately from his family to have access to his earnings.
Decision Of The Court
The court, after evaluating all the evidence of witnesses, found that there was no fault of the husband or any other reason for the wife to attempt to commit suicide. The court observed that had the husband failed to help the wife and stop her, the husband would have been subject to extreme hardship due to the domestic violence and dowry prevention laws applicable in India. The apex court observed that the wife’s action could virtually ruin his sanity, peace of mind, career and probably his entire life and this amounts to mental cruelty. This single event was sufficient for the husband to get a contested divorce decree on the ground of cruelty.
Additionally, the court observed that the wife wanted the appellant-husband to get separated from his family members, who relied on the husband’s income for sustenance. The common practice or desirable culture in India asks for a Hindu son to support his parents and does not consent to the son leaving his parents after marriage at the instance of his wife, especially when he is the only earning member in the family.
The trial court came to the conclusion that merely for monetary considerations, the wife wanted to get her husband separated from his family. A son maintaining his parents is absolutely normal in Indian culture and ethos. There is no other reason for which the wife wanted the husband to be separated from the family- the sole reason was to enjoy his income.
Hindu society, it is a pious obligation of the son to maintain the parents. If
a wife makes an attempt to deviate from the normal practice and normal custom
of the society, she must have some justifiable reason for that and in this
case, the court did not find any justifiable reason, except monetary
consideration of the wife.
In the court’s opinion, normally, no husband would tolerate this and no son would like to be separated from his old parents and other family members, who are also dependent upon his income. The persistent effort of the wife to constrain the husband to be separated from the family would be torturous for the husband and in the opinion of the apex court, the trial Court was right when it came to the conclusion that this constitutes an act of ‘cruelty’.
28(1) of the Hindu Marriage Act,1995 and provision of 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act.
Citations–PRABIR KUMAR DAS V.PAPIYA DAS G.ASHARANI VS. N.NAGENDRA
PANKAJ MAHAJAN VS. DIMPLE ALIAS KAJAL
VIJAYKUMAR RAMCHANDRA BHATE VS.NEELA VIJAYKUMAR BHATE.
The peculiar features in the case were that
The wife was of highly suspicious nature
The ground for seeking separation from husbands’ parents was solely driven by monetary agenda and not other grounds such as torture of wife by in-laws etc.
The case was aggravated by an attempt of suicide made by the wife.
There was no evidence even remotely circumstantial to the wife’s allegation of the husband having an extramarital affair with the maid
The son was the only earning member of the family.
According to me the judgment given by The Honorable Supreme Court was valid as according to Hindu customs and tradition the married wife has to live with in-laws and cannot force or torture her husband for getting separated from his parents if her husband is the only earning person in the family.