Upholding a family court’s order granting divorce to a man, the Delhi High Court observed that making “false allegations” of dowry harassment and rape against the husband’s family is an “act of extreme cruelty” which cannot be condoned.
A division bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Neena Bansal Krishna in its August 22 order while dismissing the wife’s appeal against a November 11, 2021, family court order said, “Principal Judge (family court) has rightly referred to the respective testimony of the parties to conclude that there was no evidence to show that the marriage was not consummated but there was sufficient evidence to prove that there was reluctance on the part of the appellant who was never forthcoming for cohabitation”.
The court noted that in this case, the parties had been residing separately since 2014 which proved they are unable to sustain a matrimonial relationship thereby depriving each other of mutual companionship and conjugal relationship. Such separation of almost nine years is an instance of “utmost mental cruelty” asking for immediate severance of the matrimonial relationship on the ground of cruelty under the Hindu Marriage Act, the court added.
After the couple got married on November 24, 2021, the woman left the man’s house on February 19, 2014. The husband had deposed that his wife did not allow the consummation of marriage and she never cooperated in cohabitation and slapped and kicked him whenever he sought to establish a sexual relationship.
The family court had granted divorce on the man’s petition under the Hindu Marriage Act on the ground of cruelty and marriage between the man and woman was dissolved. The wife moved the HC against this order.
The division bench observed, “The parties herein have barely been able to live together for about thirteen months and have not been able to sustain their matrimonial relationship. It needs no reiteration that the bedrock of any matrimonial relationship is cohabitation and conjugal relationship. For a couple to be deprived of each other’s company, proves that the marriage cannot survive, and such deprivation of conjugal relationship is an act of extreme cruelty”.
The wife had also filed an FIR in 2014 making rape allegations against the man and his brother. On November 22, 2014, a sessions court exonerated the man and his brother of these allegations. Against this acquittal, the wife moved an appeal in the HC.
The High Court said that even though an appeal has been filed by the wife, this does not wash out the observations of the sessions court “that the allegations were manipulative and false”.
“Significantly, it has also emerged in the evidence that the appellant(wife) had consulted the lawyer before making the complaint on which FIR was registered. It cannot be overlooked that making serious allegations of not only dowry harassment but of rape against the family members of the respondent(husband) which are found to be false, is an act of extreme cruelty for which there can be no condonation,” the court said.
Observing that “false complaints filed by the wife against the husband, constitute mental cruelty against the husband”, the HC took note of the wife’s submissions before the bench where she claimed that she was being harassed by her mother-in-law who treated her as a servant and was humiliated and tortured physically, mentally, and emotionally.
The HC, however, noted the matter was amicably settled in 2013 and the woman went back to her husband’s house. She had subsequently given a written apology on December 15, 2013. After going through the apology letter, the HC said there was “no harassment as was being claimed by her and that she, upon realising her mistake, joined back the matrimonial home”.
Taking note of the wife’s testimony, the bench said it reflects that she had an “adjustment issue” in her husband’s family and there were disputes on trivial issues.
Finding no infirmity in the family court, the bench dismissed the wife’s appeal. “The family court has therefore rightly concluded that the respondent was entitled to divorce on the ground of cruelty under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955,” the court said.