The Punjab & Haryana High Court has upheld the divorce decree granted for committing mental cruelty upon husband observing that, it is unreasonable to expect a spouse to meticulously document every instance of cruelty with the forethought that it may be needed as evidence in a future divorce proceeding.

While dismissing the appeal against the divorce decree, the Court rejected the contention that the allegations of mental in the divorce petition should be specific to time, incident and place and not general in nature.

Justice Sudhir Singh and Justice Harsh Bunger said, “one may keep a note of certain acts of physical cruelty, but it may not be possible in every case to pin point to an act of “cruelty” or blameworthy conduct of the spouse; moreso in cases of mental cruelty. One has to see what are the probabilities in a case and legal cruelty has to be found out, not merely as a matter of fact, but as the effect on the mind of the complainant spouse because of the acts or omissions of the other.”

Therefore, it would be unreasonable to expect a spouse to meticulously document every instance of cruelty with the forethought that it may be needed as evidence in a future divorce proceeding, the bench added.

However, the Court directed the husband to transfer a house in wife’s name and Rs.8 Crore as permanent alimony.

These observations were made while hearing an appeal filed by the wife against the order of a Family Court whereby under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (HMA) dissolution of marriage by a decree of divorce, has been allowed.

It was stated that on account of marital discord, the parties started living separately. Subsequently, the husband filed a petition under Section 13 of the 1955 Act, seeking divorce from the appellant. The pleaded case of the husband in the divorce petition was that right from the very inception of the marriage, the conduct of the appellant was very rude and quarrelsome towards him and his family. It was further balleged that the wife is living separately since 8 years in the house provided by the husband.

As regards the second contention made on behalf of the wife that the complaint submitted by the appellant has been wrongly taken as an act of cruelty, whereas she had only availed of her legal remedies; the Court observed that,”mere filing of complaints is not cruelty, if there are justifiable reasons to file the complaints. However, if it is found that the allegations are patently false, then there can be no manner of doubt that the said conduct of a spouse levelling false accusations against the other spouse would be an act of cruelty.”

After considering the allegations of dowry and assault in the written statement, the Court noted that, “the unsubstantiated/uncorroborated allegations of demand of dowry or physical assault made by one spouse against the other; would naturally be quite torturous for a person, constituting mental cruelty.

The Court noted that, “the marriage between the parties has failed and the matrimonial alliance is beyond repair. If the decree of divorce is set aside that would amount to compelling them to further live together in a complete disharmony, mental stress and strain, which shall amount to perpetuating cruelty.”

While upholding the divorce the Court also granted permanent alimony to the wife in terms of Section 25 of the 1955 Act.

Considering the grid financial status if the husband, the Court said that the wife should be provided sufficient amount towards permanent alimony so as to maintain the same standard of living, had she continued to stay with the husband.

Accordingly it directed the husband to transfer a house and an amount of Rs. 8 crores as permanent alimony to the wife.

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