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Mental cruelty is no less than physical cruelty: Uttarakhand HC

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The Uttarakhand High Court has recently held that a wife causing mental cruelty to husband is a valid ground for dissolution of marriage, as mental cruelty is no less than physical cruelty.

A Division Bench of Justice Ravi Vijaykumar Malimath and Justice Narayan Singh Dhanik, heard an appeal filed by wife against decree of divorce passed by the lower court in grounds of cruelty by the wife against her husband.

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The marital dispute includes Rajesh Gaur and Anita Gaur who got married on 12th May 1999 according to Hindu customs and ceremonies and had two children. The husband in June 2014 filed a suit under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act against the wife seeking a decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty.

According to the husband, about five years ago there was a sudden change in the behaviour of his wife and several valuable articles, jewellery, cash, etc. started missing from the house. Few years later, he started receiving telephone calls of people asking him either to return the money else he would be kidnapped. The husband alleged that his wife confessed that she had borrowed money on interest @10 percent per month and had purchased ornaments and clothes on credit. After getting continuous threats he decided to go back to Dehradun with his wife. A Panchayat was then held in the village where his wife admitted her mistakes in writing.

When the husband moved for divorce, the wife denied the husband’s allegations, said that she was being harassed by her husband. She filed complaint in the Women Cell and also lodged a case under Section 494, Indian Penal code, 1860 against him.

The Court, based on the evidence passed a decree of divorce and held that the acts alleged by the husband against his wife qualified to come under the category of cruelty.

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The High Court upheld the order of the Family Court and a dismissed the wife’s appeal against the decree of divorce.

It noted that the cruelty could be both physical or mental, and it has not been defined under the Act.

The Court cited the judgement of the Supreme Court in case of  Praveen Mehta v. Inderjit Mehta, where it had held that,  mental cruelty cannot be established by direct evidence and it is necessarily a matter of inference to be drawn from the facts and circumstances of the case. Another case cited was that of Raj Talreja v. Kavita Talreja, where the Court had held that cruelty can never be defined with exactitude.

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According to the High Court, in the present case, the wife failed to substantiate the allegations made by her against her husband. The Court concluded that all the acts and conduct, on part of the wife would constitute cruelty. The cruelty on part of the wife was not a solitary instance of cruelty and she indulged in repeated acts of cruelty and misbehaviour with her husband.

Read the judgment here;

Anita

-India Legal Bureau

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