Trivial irritations and loss of trust between married couples cannot be confused with mental cruelty, the Delhi High Court said on Monday as it refused to uphold a lower court order granting divorce on a husband’s plea against his wife.
The husband sought divorce on account of mental cruelty by the wife, alleging that she was not interested in living with him in the matrimonial home and wanted him to live with her at her parental home as “ghar jamai”.
Their marriage was solemnised in 1996 according to Hindu rites and customs and they were blessed with a baby girl in 1998.
The man had claimed that his wife used to desert him on one pretext or the other, was only interested in running her coaching centre and even denied him sex.
Dealing with the wife’s appeal, a bench headed by Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said although denial of sex can be considered a form of mental cruelty when it is persistent, intentional and for a considerable period of time, the court needs to “over-circumspect” while dealing with such a sensitive and delicate issue.
Such allegations, the court said, could not be proved merely on the basis of vague and unspecific averments, particularly when the marriage was also duly consummated.
It held that the husband had failed to prove any mental cruelty on him and the present instance was “simply a case of normal wear and tear of the matrimonial bond” and the evidence indicated that the “discord was between the wife and her mother-in-law”.
“There was nothing to affirmatively suggest that the conduct of the wife was of such a nature that it was no longer possible for her husband to stay with her. The trivial irritations and loss of trust cannot be confused with mental cruelty,” said the bench, also comprising Justice Manoj Jain.
The court also said the mere fact that the woman had approached police with a criminal complaint, resulting in an FIR against her husband who was eventually granted the benefit of the doubt in the matter, would not amount to cruelty.
“Thus, the picture which emerges out is very clear. There was loss of trust, faith and affection between the parties but despite that, they both were trying hard to save the family,” the court observed.
“Merely because the wife had knocked the doors of the court for redressal of her grievance, just like her husband also did, cannot tantamount to infliction of cruelty. The evidence led by the husband, when tested on the yardstick of preponderance of probabilities, does not seem compelling enough to prove cruelty on the part of his wife,” it added.
The court further rejected the husband’s plea to grant him divorce on account of an “irretrievable breakdown” of their marriage and said such power vests only with the Supreme Court and cannot be sought by any of the parties as a matter of right.
“The power to grant divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage is exercised by the Supreme Court under Article 142 of the Constitution of India to do complete justice to both the parties. Such a power is not vested in the high courts, leave alone the family courts,” it said.
“As an upshot of our foregoing discussion, we hold that the impugned judgment dated September 7, 2019 is not sustainable. The appeal is, resultantly, allowed and as a necessary corollary, the divorce petition filed by the husband stands dismissed,” the court ordered.
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