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Ground for divorce to husband when the allegations of wife affects his career & reputation whic

Author: Sivapuram V.L. Thejaswini Student, Alliance University

The 3-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising J. Sanjay Kishan Kaul, J. Dinesh Maheshwari and J. Hrishikesh Roy on February 26, 2021 laid down the judgement in the case of Joydeep Majumdar v. Bharti Jaiswal Majumdar.

Facts of the case –

  1. In this case, the appellant is an Army Officer. His qualification is M. Tech. Where as the respondent holds Ph. d degree and also a faculty at Government P G College of Tehri.

  2. Both this appellant & respondent got married on 27th September, 2006. Both the husband and wife together lived at Vishakhapatnam and also at Ludhiana for few months.

  3. Some differences got raised between both the parties from the beginning days of their married life itself.

  4. So due to these differences, both the parties lived separately from each other since 15th September, 2007.

  5. Due to their separation, the appellant filed for divorce at the Vishakhapatnam’s family court. The petition for the Restitution of Conjugal Rights was filed by the respondent in the court at Dehradun.

  6. Later the respondent filed for Transfer Petition when she came to know about the case filed by the appellant at Visakhapatnam.

  7. In respect of this the court said that – The Dehradun Court shall take up this matter & dispose it speedily without causing any loss of time.

Contentions raised by the appellant –

  1. It was pleaded by the husband during the proceedings that there were many malicious complaints raised by his wife against him.

  2. As a result of these complaints there was an impact on his career, loss of his reputation thereby resulting in mental cruelty to him.

Contentions raised by the respondent –

  1. In the petition for Restitution of Conjugal Rights, it was contended by the wife that her husband has deserted her.

  2. It was also contended that there is no reasonable cause for desertion.

  3. So the wife pleads for resumption of their married life.

Findings of the Family court at Dehradun –

After hearing from the counsels of both the parties, evidences & documents given by both the parties are also considered then the court laid down that;

  1. The allegation was made by the respondent against her husband of cruelty and she failed to establish it against him.

  2. It was also found that the complaints made by the wife against her husband to the Army & some other authorities amounts to mental cruelty against her husband.

  3. Thus the suit for Restitution of Conjugal Rights by the respondent was dismissed and the suit for dissolution of marriage by husband was allowed.

In Uttarakhand High Court –

First appeal was filed by the aggrieved party before the High court. The court considered the pleadings of the parties & issues that are framed by the trial court.

  1. It was noted that “cruelty” is the most important issue in this case.

  2. The court here examined that whether the complaints made by wife to the Army Officers are sufficient for plea of dissolution of marriage by husband.

  3. It was also found that wife wrote complaints to the officers with respect to the conduct & character of the appellant.

  4. These allegations by both the parties against each other reflect the quarrels of middle class married life.

  5. It was opined by the court that it cannot be considered to be cruelty by wife. Because it was also not concluded by any court that these allegations are mala fide/false/fabricated.

  6. Thus this High court has set aside the decree for dissolution of marriage by the appellant and the decree for Restitution of Conjugal Rights was allowed.

Arguments from the Appellants –

  1. Filing of many complaints by the respondent against her husband up to the level of some authorities like the Chief of the Army staff has caused some irreparable damage to the reputation of husband and also affected his mental peace.

  2. Due to these kind of false allegations the appellant cannot be allowed to resume her matrimonial life with her husband.

  3. The claim for restitution after many years is also not reasonable because the couple has stayed together only for a few months.

Arguments from the Respondents –

  1. The respondent desires to resume her matrimonial life with her husband.

  2. The complaints made by her should not be misunderstood and they are the way by which efforts to claim her right as a legally wedded wife can be known.

  3. As the appellant obtained an ex parte order at Vishakhapatnam court by filing a divorce case, so the respondent wrote complaints to the authorities as a way to assert her rights.

Considerations by the court –

  1. In the suit for dissolution of marriage, the mental cruelty has to be of such a level that it is impossible for the wronged party to continue their relation & to stay with their spouse.

  2. In Samar Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh, it was deducted that there are no prescribed standards for mental cruelty. Because it differs from case to case basis. So it has to be decided based on the facts & circumstances of each case[1].

  3. An inquiry was made by the superior officers of the Army authorities against the appellant as a result of complaints made by the respondent.

  4. Due to these his career & reputation got affected.

  5. Respondent has also posted defamatory materials against her husband on various platforms & she has also made complaints to various authorities like State Commission for Women.

  6. As a result appellant suffered consequences due to these allegations made by his wife.

  7. These allegations cannot be avoided because they are not proven to be false.

  8. It was felt by the High court that there is no credibility regarding the allegations made by the wife, so the appellant will not be entitled to the relief.

  9. The basic question here is ‘Whether the allegations made by the wife here would fall under the ambit of mental cruelty’ ?

  10. The respondent is a well-educated spouse.

  11. Even though the respondent justifies that she has made persistent efforts to uphold the matrimonial relationship, but in these circumstances the appellant also has a sufficient justification for separation.

  12. Thus it was held by the Supreme Court that there was an error where the High court has described these disputes merely as the part & parcel of spouses of middle class families.

  13. Definitely this circumstances reflect that there is cruelty against the appellant by the respondent.

  14. The order passed by the Family court has to be restored.

  15. There is sufficient justification so as to set aside the impugned order passed by the High court.

  16. Thus it was finally decided that the appellant in this case is entitled to dissolution of marriage. Whereas the suit of Restitution for Conjugal Rights filed by the respondent got dismissed.

Thus the court in this case clearly explains that where the allegations are made by one of well-educated the spouses which damages the reputation & career of another spouse amounts to mental cruelty which is declared to be a ground for divorce[2].

[1] (2007) 4 SCC 511

[2] LL 2021 SC 117

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