The Bombay High Court has held that the allegations and accusations against the spouse in the newspaper itself have an effect of lowering the reputation in the eyes of peers and colleagues.

The Court said that whether the actual news is defamatory or not is not a relevant factor in such a situation.

A Division Bench comprising Justice R.D. Dhanuka and Justice M.M. Sathaye observed, “Original copy of newspaper Dainik Divya Marathi dated 13.07.2014 is at Exh.279, in which alleged defamatory news about Respondent / Wife was published at the instance of Appellant/ husband. Whether the actual news is defamatory or not is irrelevant for the present purpose. The fact that allegations and accusations are leveled by a party (husband in this case) against the spouse (wife) in newspaper, itself has an effect of lowering her reputation in the eyes of her peers and colleagues. Embarrassment is a bitter bonus!”

The Bench further noted that a partner in a matrimonial relationship who goes to the extent of filing police complaints against the mother, friend, well-wishers, Prosecutor, or Advocate of his own wife, is the kind of person who is difficult to deal with and certainly causing mental harassment.

Advocate Ashok Avhad appeared on behalf of the appellant/husband while Advocate Maheshwari Devi appeared on behalf of the respondent/wife.

Brief Facts -

An appeal was filed by the appellant/husband challenging the judgment passed by the Family Court in a petition filed by the respondent/wife thereby dissolving the marriage between the parties under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and further directing the husband to return streedhan of the wife. Te appellant also sought for restitution of conjugal rights under Section 9 of the Act.

The appellant was a bank employee at the time of his marriage with the respondent and as per his wife, her parents gave her a lot of gold ornaments and did huge expenses during their marriage. The respondent alleged that the appellant used to drink and abuse her and one day went to a police academy where she was training and created a scene by using filthy language against her.

The High Court in this mental cruelty case asserted, “In the overall facts and circumstances of this case, we find that owing to the bitterness that parties have already gathered for each other, it is not possible to reconcile the situation and the bond has been broken irretrievably. The overall conduct of the Appellant/husband, as narrated above, in our considered view, amounts to mental cruelty. Therefore, we find no fault with the decree of divorce granted by the Trial Court to the Respondent / Wife on the ground of cruelty.”

The Court agreed with the observation made by the Trial Court that whether the wife receives gold ornaments from her parents or her in-laws, the gold ornaments received in marriage by the wife becomes her streedhan.

“It has come on record that the Appellant/husband has mortgaged the wife’s streedhan (gold ornaments) raising loans multiple times and therefore, it is only just and proper that the Trial Court has directed the Appellant/Husband to return the streedhan to the Respondent/wife after making necessary repayment to DNS Bank, Gangapur Road, Nasik. We find no fault in the said direction. Impugned Judgment and Decree needs no interference”, the Court held.

The Court said that mental cruelty is meted out to the respondent/wife at the hands of the appellant/husband and therefore, confirmed the decree, as passed by the Trial Court.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the appeal and confirmed the judgment of the Trial Court.

Cause Title- Uday Padmakar Sirsat v. Rupali Uday Sirsat (Neutral Citation: 2023:BHC-AS:9121-DB)

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