Court:DELHI HIGH COURT
Bench: JUSTICE N.N. Goswamy
URMILA DEVI AND OTHERS Vs. RAVI PRAKASH 16.8.1984
Husband’s petition for divorce on ground of wife’s cruelty. Allegations made by wife in her maintenance application u/s. 125 Cr.P.C. in her notice and written statement to divorce proceedings that husband is a drunkard, gambler and womanizer. Allegations based on hearsay and Unfounded and false to the knowledge of wife and amount to crulety, decree of divorce confirmed.
This appeal by the wife is directed against the judgment and decree dated January 29, 1983 whereby the petition of the husband respondent under section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act was allowed and the marriage between the parties, was dissolved by a decree of divorce.
2. The respondent-husband filed a petition for a decree of divorce. It is alleged in the petition that the marriage between the parties was solemnized at Meerut on 18-11-71 according to the Hindu rites and ceremonies. The appellant gave birth to two children from the wedlock at Meerut namely Neelam on 11-10-1972 and Neeraj on 15-11-1978. The female child is in the custody of the respondent and male child is in the custody of the appellant. After the marriage, the appellant came to the house of the respondent at Meerut where the parties started residing together as husband and wife. The respondent was employed at Delhi and was daily travelling by train to attend his duties. After the marriage, the appellant, told the respondent that her marriage with him was solemnized against her wishes and she did not want to marry him. She further started that she was interested in marrying one Malu Mal Jain with whom she had a love affair. This naturally caused pain and agony in the mind of the respondent. It is further alleged that during the period when the parties were staying together at Meerut, the treatment of the appellant towards the respondent was very bad. She used to quarrel with him and abuse him many times and used to leave the matrimonial home without his permission and on being asked the used to pounce upon the respondent and quarrel with him. The respondent kept on tolerating this attitude of the appellant in order to maintain the matrimonial relations. It is further alleged that on the festival of Sakat in January 1981, the appellant told the respondent that the male child Neeraj was her love sign with somebody else, which also caused mental pain and agony in the mind of the respondent. It is alleged that there were two murders in the family of the appellant and for that respondent advised her not to visit her parental family because of her safety but the appellant did not care for that advice also. From 1981 the parties have been residing together in the house of the respondent’s sister and they resided there upto 12-3-1981 at that place. During this period, the appellant threatened the respondent on or around 15-2-1981 in the presence of his brother-in-law that because the respondent had told the matter about her love sign of male child with somebody to his sister and brother-in-law she would forcibly take the two children and get them killed by rail and would also herself do so which also caused great mental pain and agony. It is further alleged that after the appellant left the matrimonial home she got a notice served on the respondent dated 7-9-1981 wherein she had made false allegations against the respondent and his character by saying that he was a drunkard, gambler and characterless. This allegation also caused mental pain and agony in his mind which amounts to cruelty. The respondent is still suffering from mental pain and agony because of the allegations. It is further alleged that the appellant has never bothered to take care of the female child nor she ever tried to meet her and she has ruined the life of the respondent and the minor children.
3. The petition was contested by the appellant. In the written statement she denied the allegation of cruelty but in paragraph 6 of the written statement, it is pleaded ;—
“That para 6 of the petition is absolutely false and concocted and the same is denied. The petitioner is put to strict proof in respect of allegations made in the para under reply. But in fact the petitioner is habitual of drinking, gambling and has illicit relation ship with other ladies and sold his house of Meerut for his bad entertainments. The answering respondent advised the petitioner to leave these bad habits. At this the petitioner had beaten the respondent several times and treats the respondent with cruelty. The behaviour of the respondent with the petitioner was good and respondent never left the house without permission of the petitioner and obeyed the order of the petitioner.”
4. She further pleaded that the respondent had always been raising dowry demands which her parents were not able to comply and, therefore, she was being treated badly.
5. The respondent filed his replication wherein the allegations in the plaint were reiterated. It was specifically pleaded that the male child was a legitimate child of the parties, born from the weldlock. The allegations of the appellant in the written statement that her certificates and mark sheets had been destroyed by the respondent were also controverted and it was stated that they were with the respondent.
6. On the pleadings of the parties, the learned trial Judge framed the following issues :—
1. Whether the respondent after the solemnization of the marriage treated the petitioner with cruelty ?
7. In order to substantiate the pleas the respondent-petitioner appeared as his own witness as PW 1, he examined his mother as PW 2, his sister as PW 3 and his brother-in-law as PW 4. The appellant examined herself as RW 1 and closed her case. There is no documentary evidence on record except the legal notice served by the appellant on the respondent and is Ex. RW 1/1. After considering the entire evidence on record, the learned trial Judge came to the conclusion that the appellant was not worthy of being believed, particularly, in view of the fact that she had been contradicting herself in the pleadings and in her statement and thereby allowed the petition and dissolved the marriage by a decree of divorce.
8. I have been taken through the entire evidence on record. After giving my careful consideration to the facts of the case and the material placed on record, I am of the opinion that the respondent has not been able to prove the allegations of the appellant having said anything about the love sign or Malu Mai Jain, the incident of festival sakat in January, 1981 and regarding the killing of the children and committing suicide. However, the allegations contained in paragraph 11 of the petition relate to the character assassination of the respondent by the appellant stand proved beyond any doubt. In fact, the appellant herself has admitted in the written statement that she used to blame the respondent for being gambler, drunkard and having affair with other women during the period she was staying with him. The legal notice Ex. RW 1/1 also mentions that the respondent is a gambler, drunkard and womanizer. The appellant in her statement on oath has admitted that she made similar allegations against the appellant in her petition filed under lection 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for maintenance while in cross-examination, she denied that the allegations levelled against the respondent were false, but went on to say that all the allegations are hearsay and she had come to know about those facts from Babu Ram PW 4, brother-in-law of the respondent. She further stated in the cross-examination that to her knowledge, the respondent bears the good moral character. Babu Ram had appeared as PW 4 and not even a suggestion was put to him that he has disclosed about the respondent being a drunkard, gambler or of bad character. Besides this such a statement cannot be believed for another reason and that is that the appellant has pleaded in her written statement that there were occasional quarrels during the time she was staying with the respondent when she used to tell him to refrain from these activities. This also shows that she was making the allegations even during the period when she was staying with the respondent.
9. The question for determination is whether such allegations amount to cruelty in law. In Madan Mohan Kohli v. Smt. Sarla Kohli, 2 (1966) DLT 343, It was held by a learned Judge of this Court that baseless allegations of unchastity and adultery by the husband against the wife amounts to crueltv and if such allegations are made it will be harmful and injurious for the spouse to live with the spouse making such allegations. I had taken the same view in matrimonial case No. 2 of 1980 titled as Mukesh Kumar Gupta v. Kamini Gupta, decided on March 7, 1984 wherein I had held that such false accusation by the wife against the husband amounts to cruelty and the husband was entitled to a decree of dissolution of marriage under section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act. The learned counsel, for the appellant has relied upon Smt. Neera v. Krishan Sarup, AIR 1975 All. 337, wherein the learned Judge of that Court held that the accusation of unchastity by the husband against ins wife do not amount to cruelty. The reasons given by the learned Judge are that there must be persistent acts of cruelty which should cause a reasonable apprehension in the mind of tie wife that it would be harmful or injurious for her to live with the husband. This judgment obviously cannot be accented by me for the simple reason that the Act stand amended and one act cruelty is enough to dissolve the marriage and persistence is not required The second reason given is that mere allegations of unchastity do not amount to cruelty. With respect I cannot agree with these observations because according to me it is impossible for a wife to live with the husband who makes allegations of unchastity against her and is allowed to get away with the same There are few things which a woman, especially in the background of Indian traditions, cherishes more than chastity and where a baseless and unfounded charge is made of unchastity and adultery, against a woman, it must in the very nature of things cause her extreme anguish. Such an act necessarily causes such an anguish that it becomes harmful and injurious for that wife to live with the husband.
10. In the present case, admittedly, the allegations made in the legal notice, in the petition under section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure as also in the written statement are unfounded and are false to the knowledge of the appellant. Having made such allegations it cannot be said that she was not committing the act of cruelty to the extent required by law to he harmful and injurious for the respondent. Consequently I do not find any merit in this appeal which is hereby dismissed. Considering the circumstances of the case, I leave the parties to bear their own costs.