Court:DELHI HIGH COURT
Bench: JUSTICE R Gupta
Ashok Kumar vs Smt. Vijay Laxmi on 14 August, 1991
Making Grave but False Allegation by Wife of Attempt to Burn her by Husband is Cruelty.
1. This appeal is directed against the judgment dated 16-1-1989 of the Additional District Judge, Delhi by which she dismissed the appellant’s petition for grant of divorce against the respondent-wife.
2. The brief facts leading to this unfortunate litigation between the parties are as follows:
The parties were married on 6-5-82 at Sona, District Gurgaon where from the respondent hails. There is no issue from the wedlock. After the marriage the appellant gave her all love and affection. He took her for honeymoon from Delhi to Bangalore by air and from Bangalore to Mysore and Ooti by road. In spite of love and affection having been showered by the husband on the wife, she did not appear to be pleased and said many times that he was not a suitable match for her and thus exhibited superiority over him. She also did not give due respect to his parents. She pressed him to leave her at her parents house. Accordingly, he took her there on 21-5-1982 i.e. just after 15 days of the marriage. According to him she had taken away all her gold and silver ornaments and costly clothes.She did not return with him on the pretext that she had to appear in an examination. He went again to Sona but found that she was not interested even in talking to him. He was not treated well and given proper respect. She also refused to return to the matrimonial home on the same pretext of appearing in the examination. Once again he went on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan when he met the same treatment from her and her flatly refused to join the matrimonial soceity. After return he informed his parents, whereupon his father went to the house of his father-in-law and requested him to send back the respondent, but in vain. Rather her father asked his father to settle the matter through a Panchayat as she did not want to join him. Appellant father accompanied by the Panchayat went again to the house of the wife and requested her parents to send her back to Delhi along with ornaments and costly garment but their efforts did not fructify and they return. Rather she chose to file a petition under Section Code of Criminal Procedure for grant of maintenance in the court of Judicial Magistrate, Gurgaon which was ultimately dismissed on 22-4-1983 because somehow she agreed to return to the matrimonial home. She came with him to Delhi on 22-4-1983 and stayed with him up to 12-61983 only. During this period also her behavior was not good. On 12-6-1983 her mother and uncle came to his residence, met the respondent and entered into a conspiracy to level unnecessary allegations against him. They are alleged to have gone to the police station Karol Bagh and brought with them some police officers on a false allegation that the appellant wanted to set her ablaze. The police officer, however found nothing of the sort as alleged by the mother and uncle of the respondent. Rather the respondent falsely alleged before the police officer that the appellant wanted to set her ablaze and further that she did not want to cohabit with him and ultimately left the matrimonial home. Further allegation is that on 14-6-1983, appellant and his father were way-laid in Dev Nagar, New Delhi by the father and uncle of the respondent and given beatings. Appellant in the amended plaint stated that respondent in her written statement made false allegations against him to the effect that he was a dowry hunter, after money and prepared to commit the most heinous crime for the sake of money. She further stated that his such nefarious intention was also shared by his parents, brothers and sisters who wanted to suck last drop of their blood. She also falsely and frivolously alleged that there was a conspiracy to burn and kill her which was never done by him at any time. She made a false report against him at PS Karol Bagh as a result of which he had suffered mental pain, agony and humiliation which he continues to suffer. Even in her statement in court on 2-4-1985 she falsely accused the appellant of having demanded Fridge, T. V. Scooter and Rs. 5000/- in cash which demands were never made and such allegations were baseless and caused mental pain and agony to him. She is also alleged to have made false complaint against him to the Prime Minister of India, Vigilance and to his department i.e. Indian Airlines as admitted by her in her statement which also caused great mental agony and pain to him and lowered him in the estimation of his friends, colleagues etc. Thus she tried her best to spoil his future career and ruin him. He also along with his uncle and aunty went to her parents house on 2-7-1983 to settle the matter. But they were not treated well. He was pushed from the house and given beatings by the respondent and her parents. They also humiliated his uncle and aunty and also threatened him to implicate him in some false case and a beating with chappals if they again attempted to meet her in future. According to him, such false allegations/ statements against him amounted to cruelty which was never condoned by him.
3. The respondent refuted all these allegations of having even dis-respected him and his parents and having given any chance to him from her side. However, she said that the accusation by him of the demands of dowry articles was correct. It was also correct that the appellant had tried to burn her on 12-6-1983 and it was with great difficulty that she escaped from the clutches of the appellant, his mother and other family members. This was rendered possible by her mother’s timely report on that date. She denied having made any report herself at the police station.
4. 1 have heard learned counsel for the parties at length. It may be noted that the parties hardly lived together in May, 1981 for about 15 days and for another about 45 days from 22-4-1983 to 12-6-1983, as also found by the learned ADJ. Thus in all they lived together for 60 days during the last period of about ten years and 3 months of their married life. I would like to first highlight the allegations of the appellant regarding the incident of 12-6-1983. Respondent’s mother and uncle that day came to his house. At that time a false report was made by respondent that the appellant had tried to burn her and it was on that account that she was taken away by her mother and uncle. He has vehemently stated that he has not condoned this allegation which actually has caused him severe mental cruelty. In this respect, the respondent as R.W. I stated that the appellant gave her severe beating on 12-6-1983, brought a bottle of kerosene oil and threatened to kill her by burning. But all of a sudden her mother arrived there and on seeing her condition she made a report at the police station whereupon the police arrived there, recorded her statement and that of her mother. The appellant then sent her with her mother to her house. In her cross-examination on this aspect of the matter, she further deposed that at the time of arrival of the police, she was in her room on the upper floor with the appellant. All the other’members of his family had run out of the house. Kerosene oil was thrown away before the arrival of the police. She denied that she did not tell the police if she had been beaten by her husband and it was wrong that she was not beaten by him that day. She went on to implicate the sister and mother of the appellant also in the planned act of killing her by burning. She further deposed that the appellant poured kerosine oil on her but before she could be set ablaze, the police arrived at the instance of her mother. She told all those facts to her mother, who had also seen her doused with kerosine oil. She told all these facts even to her counsel before drafting the written statement and also to the police at the spot.
5. The appellant denied all such allegations and was able to get produced and proved a copy of report No. 17A dated 12-6-1983 of PS Karol Bagh in respect of the aforesaid incident, which copy is Ex. P 1. This report when translated into English reads as follows:
“At about 8.30 P.M. when I along with a constable after patrol duty reached gali No. 64/65, the Vijay Laxmi and Ashok Kumar were quarreling in House No. 4767 because the mother of Vijay Laxmi namely Chameli wife of Jas Ram had come to take away her daughter. But her in laws were not sending her. Ashok Kumar was saying that he will take her there on a holiday but the girl was expressing that they will kill her. Previously also a litigation had taken place between them at Gurgaon. There Lal Singh, uncle of Vijay Laxmi and Ramesh Kumar, maternal uncle of Ashok were also present. Vijay Laxmi was bent upon going with her mother. Statements of all present there were recorded and are attached. No cognizable offence was found to have been committed. Vijay Laxmi is going voluntarily with her mother and Ashok Kumar has no objection in her being taken away and return whenever she wants.
Sd/- Shadi Lal SI”
6. This report was produced by PW7 Constable Balbir Singh. He stated that the original investigation proceedings had been destroyed, but mark A at that time and later on exhibited as Ex. P I by the trial Judge, was the true copy of that report.
7. From the facts proved in this report, it is at once clear that the allegation of the respondent that there was an attempt on the part of the appellant to burn her and her further statement in court that she was even doused with kerosene oil and was about to be set ablaze when the police along with her mother arrived, is patently false. If there had been any such attempt on the part of the appellant to burn her, the police would not have mentioned in this report that no cognizable offence was found to have been committed. The respondent also claims to have brought facts specifically to the notice of the police. But this report clearly proves the absurdity of her allegations. The trial court seems to have overlooked this important aspect of the case. In fact it expected some explanation from the appellant as to why the respondent left the matrimonial house on 12-6-1983. In her words in para 10 of the judgment, “she (wife) has alleged that in fact the petitioner wanted to burn and kill the respondent and with great difficulty she escaped from his clutches and was brought back by her mother and uncle to her parents house on 12-6-1983. Respondent has also alleged that the petitioner even filed a false complaint against her father and uncle in the court of Sh. K.S. Khurana, M.M. Delhi which was dismissed in default. As the petitioner has failed to give any explanation as to why did the respondent left (leave?) the matrimonial house on 12-6-1983 after the matter was compromised on 22-4-1983, it can easily be inferred that the fault was on the part of the petitioner and because of his conduct the respondent could not live with him.” At page 19 of the judgment the trial court did say that the respondent’s allegation that the appellant had tried to burn her by pouring kerosene oil on her did not appear to be correct. The trial court also after discussing various provisions of the Evidence Act exhibited this report as Ex. P L But strangely enough, after having found that the allegations made by the respondent in this respect were false, it did not consider it appropriate to hold that it was sufficient that such a conduct of the respondent would amount to cruelty both mental. and physical. It is a matter of common knowledge that the allegation made by the respondent against the appellant about an attempt on his part to set her ablaze by dousing her in kerosene oil, certainly exposed the appellant to face criminal prosecution of a very serious nature in which he could be sent to the prison during investigation and to a term of rigorous imprisonment on conviction. The wife levelled such serious allegations against the husband which had actual no basis. If these allegations had been true, surely the police would have booked the husband for various offences under the Penal Code. Rather the police at that that time found that because the wife was insisting to go with her mother the appellant did not raise any objection and so told the police that he had no objection in her being taken away by her mother and return whenever she wanted. If the husband had been even little at fault he would not have agreed to his wife being taken away by her mother. I fail to understand what more explanation the trial court expected from the appellant about the respondent having gone away with her mother on 12-6-1983, when it was also of the view that the allegations of the attempts of burning levelled by the wife against the husband were not correct. In fact, the husband at that time told the police that he had no objection to the wife’s going away with the mother-in-law and return as and when she liked. In fact, there was no other way for the husband to escape from the quagmire of false and unwarranted allegations which were levelled by the wife and her mother at that time. The only escape could be a helpless consent to her being taken away. In the case of Jaishree Mohan Otavnekar v. Mohan Govind Otavnekar, AIR 1987 Bom 220, there was an un-authorised and unfounded allegation of adultery in the written statement by the husband against the wife. Looking at the nature of evidence led by the parties, allegation itself was held to have amounted to cruelty which could form the basis of a decree of divorce. An inference of torture and mental agony by virtue of such wanton and unwarranted allegations can certainly be raised in favor of a party against whom such allegations are made. I am in respectful agreement with the observations made by the Bombay High Court. Therefore, clearly such false allegations by the wife against the appellant resulted in the mental agony of the gravest character to the husband.
8. 1 have intentionally referred to the incident of 12-6-1983 before dealing with the other allegations. The reason is that on 22-4-1983 both the parties had entered into a compromise before Judicial Magistrate 1st Class at Gurgaon. Certified copy of the compromise deed dated 22-4-1983 is Ex. R2 and the statement of the husband appellant is Ex. R3. There is no allegation either in the compromise deed or in the statement that there was ever any demand of dowry by the husband from his in-laws. It only shows that with the intervention of the brother-hood, parties were re-canceled and that the husband Would not enter into any dispute with the wife and out of his own free will and happiness he was ready to keep her. The respondent sent complaints to Prime Minister and Indian Airlines, the employer of the husband, that the husband was demanding various costly articles of dowry from their poor parents. It has come in the statement of PW 5 Arun Kohli, Vigilance Officer of Indian Airlines, that the enquiry in such complaints was dropped because the parties had settled their disputes amicably. Thus it would be seen that the allegations of alleged demand of dowry remained uninvestigated by the Vigilance Officer of the Indian Airlines. On the basis of these incomplete or rather left on way reports it would be too much to say that there were demands of dowry established against the appellant. The oral evidence of the BIRADARI people led on either side would also not establish any such fact. Simply because such a point was raised in the meeting of the Panchayat is not a pointer to the truth of any such allegation. If that was a fact, it was bound to be mentioned in the compromise that the appellant undertook not to raise any such demands in future. In fact, I am of the view that if a wife at a later point of time can make absolutely unfounded allegations of an attempt on the part of her husband to set her ablaze, it is likely that the allegations of demand of more dowry are also false and may be she made such allegations as an excuse to stay away from the husband because she did not want to stay with him and was married to the appellant against her wishes, as is precisely the case of the appellant. That the respondent did not want to join the society of the appellant is proved even from the record of the judicial proceedings. The trial court made efforts to bring about reconciliation between the parties on 27-1-1984 after the framing of the issues. They requested time to think over the matter. The case was adjourned to 17-2-1984. On that date the appellant was present in Court but the wife absented and her counsel informed the court that she did not want reconciliation and that is why she had not even come to the court. Hardly about 6 1/2 months before only they had separated when false allegations of the gravest nature had been made by her. The very fact that despite having wronged the husband by levelling false allegations against him, she did not want rapprochement, would further re-enforce the conclusion that she did not like him and so did not want to stay with him. Otherwise, there was no earthly reason for her to deny the appellant the bliss of a married life. Even assuming that her allegations regarding demands of dowry were correct, then by the very act of her joining the husband through a compromise, it will have to be presumed that she condoned the earlier misdoings of the husband and so now she cannot be allowed to harp on old wounds.
Therefore, taking an over-all view of the matter, I am of the view that it was clearly established in this case that the respondent is guilty of having caused mental torture of the gravest nature to the appellant which in short can be termed as cruelty.
The appeal is, therefore, allowed. The judgment and decree of the trial court are set aside and the marriage between the parties is dissolved by a decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty. In the peculiar circumstances of the case, parties shall bear their own costs.
9. Appeal allowed.