India Legal Bureau
The Delhi High Court recently granted a decree of divorce to a man on the ground that he suffered mental cruelty from his wife.
The wife wanted to live apart from her in-laws ever since she was married, but the husband did not comply.
She later behaved in a violent and erratic manner towards her husband and in-laws. This was borne out by testimonies from witnesses and a letter written by her to the husband while she was staying with her parents.
They had been living separately for a long time and earlier the trial court had ignored the fact that her petition for restitution of conjugal rights had been dismissed.
In this appeal by the husband, the Delhi High Court pointed out that the trial court had disbelieved one of the witnesses—who had claimed that the wife misbehaved with her husband in front of him—on the ground that he was known to the husband’s family. It ruled that family, friends and persons known to the parties would be the most natural witnesses in matrimonial cases.
The Supreme Court’s guidelines on mental cruelty as spelled out in an earlier case were also referred to by the High Court. Of great concern was the fact that the wife had threatened the husband’s family in a letter with veiled references to filing cases against them. She did, in fact, resort to filing cases under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, which failed for non-prosecution.
Such attempts to misuse the law as a weapon to threaten anyone cannot be condoned. In this instance, it certainly formed a part of a chain of behaviour demonstrating mental cruelty.