Court:Allahabad High Court
Bench: JUSTICE A N Varma
Smt. Aruna Jalan vs Capt. (Now Major) Ramesh Chand … on 12 April, 1988
Equivalent citations: AIR 1988 All 239
False and Unnecessary Complaints to Superiors of Husband in his amounts to Cruelty, Divorce Granted.
1. This second appeal is directed against concurrent judgments and decrees passed by the courts below allowing the petition of the respondent for divorce against the appellant under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act. The decree for divorce was claimed by the husband (the respondent in this appeal) on the ground that the appellant persistently and repeatedly treated the husband with cruelty. Both the courts below have, on a careful and exhaustive analysis of the evidence on record, accepted the plea of the husband holding that the appellant had, by her repeated acts and omissions, inflicted on the husband considerable mental torture making his life impossible. The trial court allowed the petition and directed dissolution of the marriage between the appellant and the respondent by its decree dated 25-9-78. The appellate court dismissed the appeal of the appellant vide the judgment and decree dated 26-3-81. The second appeal was thereupon filed on 20-7-1981. Nearly seven years elapsed before the second appeal could be taken up for hearing.
2. I may mention at the outset that before giving decision in the appeal I fixed 31-3-88 to enable the parties to appear before the Court on or before that date for exploring the possibility of reconciliation. I did this in the hope that with the passage of time the attitude of the parties may have undergone some change and that the bitterness which obviously existed between them soon after the marriage, might have lessened, if not forgotten. It was, however, regrettable to find that whereas the husband did appear before me, the wife did not. The impression I gathered from the submissions of the appellant’s counsel was that she not really interested in any kind of reconciliation. Indeed the fact that she was not prepared to give the matter even a try left me with no option but to dispose of the appeal on merits.
3. The divorce petition was filed by the husband on 3-7-73. The relief claimed was that the marriage between the parties be dissolved by a decree of divorce. In the alternative, a decree for judicial separation was also prayed for. Shortly stated, the case set up by the husband was that the marriage was solemnized at Agra on 27-1-72. After the marriage he took care to ensure that the appellant enjoined the necessary comforts of life and respect of the society in which the petitioner moved as an Army Officer. He, however, soon discovered that the appellant was extremely temperamental and obstinate caring precious little for either the feelings or even the basic comforts and convenience of the husband. Several instances of cruelty perpetrated by the wife against the husband were cited in the divorce petition. It is, however, not necessary to elaborate all of them here. But the more serious ones deserve mention. The appellant went about denigrating the husband by spreading a canard that he was having illicit affairs with other girls and was, indeed, living in adultery with a woman named Smt. Kailash Rani Arora, a telephone operator in the Military Exchange. She accused the husband of already having a spouse living with him. These false accusation were made against the husband even in the presence of his friends and relative causing untold mental agony to him quite apart from injuring his prestige and reputation. Not content with this, the appellant also sent false complaints charging him with adultery to his senior officers which resulted in considerable humiliation and harassment to the respondent. Added to all this, was her total refusal to perform her marital obligations. She flatly refused to cohabit with her husband falsely accusing him, inter alia, of having illicit sexual relationship with other girls. It was lastly asserted that the acts of cruelty committed by the appellant against the respondent were so persistent and repeated as caused a reasonable apprehension in the mind of the husband that it would be harmful and injuries for him to live with the appellant.
4. The petition was contested by the appellant. She refused the various allegations made against her asserting that she was at all times willing to perform her obligations and duties as a wife and that it was the respondent who failed her in fulfilling his obligations as a husband. She was a dutiful wife. The respondent was, however, not interested in her but was interested in another girl, namely, Kailash Rani Arora, with whom he was having illicit connections and indulging in adultery, etc. etc. On the pleadings of the parties, the trial court struck the following issues :
1. Whether the respondent has repeatedly and persistently treated the petitioner with such cruelty as to cause reasonable apprehension in the mind of the petitioner that it would be injurious and unsafe for him to live with the respondent?
2. To what relief, if any, is the plaintiff entitled?
5. Both the parties led oral and documentary evidence in support of their respective versions. The trial court, on a very carefull and exhaustive consideration of the evidence on record, came to the conclusion that the appellant had miserably failed to establish the charge of adultery or illicit connection made against the husband The trial court also came to the conclusion relying on a large number of facts and circumstances relevant to the issue that the appellant had by her acts and omissions caused extreme mental torture to the husband by making false and baseless accusations of adultery against the husband amongst the circle of his friends and relations causing him unlimited embarrassment. The trial court also refered to the letters addressed by the appellant to the Government of India, Ministry of Defence and other senior Army Officers making utterly false and derogatory allegations against the petitioner pertaining to his character. The allegations were serious and the petitioner was put to considerable humiliation in defending himself against such charges which were,’ according to the trial court, completely without any foundation. It further found that the wife had refused to accompany the husband to the functions at which other officers and their wives used to be present thereby causing embarrassment to the husband. Another finding recorded is that the wife had persistently refused to peform her marital obligations or to cohabit with the husband. The cruelties were constant. The accusations made against the husband were serious but false. Finally, the trial court concluded that the marriage appeared to have irrevocably broken down and if a decree for divorce was not granted the relations between the two were bound to become more and more bitter leading to a worse state of affairs. A decree for divorce was accordingly granted to the husband.
6. On appeal by the wife, the appellate court fully endorsed the findings of the trial court and dismissed the appeal.
7. Challenging the concurrent findings recorded by both the courts below on the issue of cruelty, learned counsel for the appellant made an attempt to invite this Court to appreciate the evidence by submitting that the courts below committed an error in rejecting the appellant’s evidence on the plea that the husband was having illicit connections with Smt. Kailash Rani Arora. It was, however, obvious that having regard to the restricted scope of a second appeal under Section 100 of the Code of Civil Procedure and to the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Dr. N.G. Dastane v. Mrs. S. Dastane, AIR 1975 SC 1534 it was not possible to undertake any reappraisal of the evidence on record. It is settled law that if the issue raised is essentially one of fact the inferences from preliminary facts found would also raise an issue of fact and not one of law. In any case both the courts below. I must say, were fully aware of the established principles pertaining to the degree and nature of proof necessary to establish the charge of cruelty so as to justify a decree for divorce. That being so, the concurrent finding recorded by both the courts below could not be set aside in a second appeal on a mere reappraisal of evidence.
8. In any case, in my opinion, the finding recorded by both the courts below that the appellant has completely failed to establish the charge of adultery is perfectly sound. The charge of adultery or illicit connection made against the spouse is a serious matter and it must rest on evidence of unimpeachable character. For it not only results in the break up of the marriage but also exposes the party charged with adultery to perpetual blemish, with the result that apart from the social censure the party also cannot hope to settle down in matrimony again because of the stigma, Judged from those standards there was a complete paucity of any reliable evidence. Apart from the interested testimony of the appellant arid her father there was no one also on whose testimony the court could sustain that plea. The courts below were right in misisting that such a plea should have been supported by at least one independent witness or some reliable documentary evidence. At any rate their conclusion not being vitiated by any error of law can not be reviewed in a second appeal.
9. That takes me to the second point urged in support of the appeal. Learned counsel submitted that the courts below were wrong in inferring from the appellant’s letter dated 23-6-73 that it in any way supported the respondent’s plea of cruelty. I am unable to agree. The letter is addressed by the appellant to Lt. Gen. Sunder Rao who was the Colonel Commandant, Corps EME, Army Headquarters, New Delhi. Copies of this letter were sent to the President of India, the Prime Minister, Defence Minister, Chief of the Army Staff, GOC-in-C, Central Command, Lucknow, among others. In this letter she writes that her husband was ‘entangled’ with a girl Kailash Rani, operator in Military Exchange, Agra, for the last three years. She further states, “I am starving to death as my husband has denied ration money and other necessities of life to me”. Then follows something which is very revealing “Capt. Jalan is completing his tenure shortly and is due out from Agra. Capt. Jalan wants to stay in Agra only because of that girl and I think he has asked higher authorities not to transfer him out from Agra. So it is my request that Capt. Jalan should be posted to a field area (on some high altitude) as soon as possible so that he goes quite far away from the girl.”
10. No matter how strong the resentment, it was most abnormal for the wife to ask for the posting of her husband employed in the’ Army to a field area and that too’ on some high altitude as soon as possible’. In my opinion, the contents of the letter coupled with the finding recorded by the courts below that the charge of adultery was baseless fully support the inference drawn by them that the husband was being subject to mental torture and humiliation in the extreme.
11. There are other pieces of evidence discussed by the courts below in detail which fully support their conclusions which I see no reason to disturb. Less so, when I find that the learned counsel miserably failed to demonstrate that the same suffer from any error of law, much less, a substantial error, such as is contemplated under Section 100 of the Code of Civil Procedure, or spelled out by their Lordships of the Supreme court in Dr. Dastane’s case (AIR 1975 SC 1534) (supra). The parameters within which such findings can be reviewed in a second appeal have been exhaustively delineated in the case of Dr. Dastane (supra) and it does not seem necessary to dilate on the same further. That disposes of all the submissions urged in support of the appeal.
12. In the result, the appeal fails and is dismissed with costs.