The Delhi High Court observed that mere acquittal in a criminal case under section 498A IPC filed by wife is not a ground to grant divorce to husband.

The court emphasized that despite the husband’s subsequent acquittal in a criminal case, it cannot negate the cruelty committed by the appellant in engaging in an extramarital relationship during the subsistence of his marriage with the respondent-wife.

The appellant filed an appeal against the judgment of the Additional District Judge denying his petition for divorce on the grounds of cruelty as per Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA).

The appellant claimed that the respondent was disrespectful, physically assaulted him, and coerced him into giving expensive gifts to her relatives. He also alleged that she had no affection for him or his family members.

The respondent denied the allegations of cruelty against her and argued that it was the appellant's infidelity that caused the breakdown of their marriage.

A Division Bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Neena Bansal Krishna held, “Marital bonds are delicate emotional human relationships and involvement of any third person could result in complete collapse of trust, faith, and tranquillity. Any sort of influence by a third person can just be a silent destroyer of the bond, leading to prolonged irreconcilable differences. Such relations eventually become a ticking time bomb, where feelings of anguish, despair, rejection and disappointment get trapped and post explosion, the shrapnel of these suppressed feelings causes injury to everyone involved, whether directly or indirectly.”

Advocate Naina Kejriwal appeared for the Appellant and Advocate S. Janani appeared for the Respondent.

After considering the testimonies and evidence presented, the Court found that the appellant's relationship was indeed of a nature that suggested an illicit affair. The Court noted the overwhelming evidence supporting the respondent's claims of the appellant's involvement with the woman., including testimonies, documentary evidence, and complaints filed by concerned parties. The Court added, “The very fact that the complaints are all admitted by CW1, Mr. N.C.S, clearly corroborate the averments of the respondent about the appellant having developed affection with Ms. B.S. outside his marriage with the respondent. The appellant may have been able to win over the father of Ms. B.S. during the pendency of the divorce proceedings, but the claim of the respondent of appellant having developed relationship outside the marriage is fully corroborated and supported not only by the oral testimony, but also by the documents.”

Ultimately, the Court concluded that the appellant's actions, particularly his involvement with the woman, constituted cruelty towards the respondent. The Court said, “considering the overwhelming evidence revealing the relationship with Ms. B.S., this acquittal subsequent to the divorce itself, cannot be a ground to say in the peculiar facts of this case, that any kind of cruelty had been committed upon him by the respondent. Merely because there is an acquittal by a Criminal Court, does not wash away the cruelty committed by the appellant of being involved with a young girl during the subsistence of his marriage with the respondent; mere acquittal in a criminal case cannot be a ground to grant divorce.”

The Court also noted that despite the appellant's subsequent acquittal in a criminal case related to the matter, his actions during the marriage were sufficient grounds to deny the divorce. The Court added, “While the human emotions know no bounds and rules, but definitely the human sensibilities emanating from the mind should have prevailed for an educated person like the appellant to have reigned his affections for a third person, with scant regard for the respondent who had reposed complete faith by entering into the vows of marriage with him. This is one case where S.23(1)(a) of the HMA, 1955, which provides that no person can take advantage of its own wrong, comes into play, in full force.”

The Court dismissed the appeal, affirming the decision of the lower court to reject the divorce petition.

Cause Title: X v. Y, [2024:DHC:1872-DB]


Appellant: Advocates Naina Kejriwal and Shoma

Respondent: Advocates S. Janani and Sharika Rai

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