The Bombay High Court has held that making false and baseless allegations against the husband labelling him as an alcoholic and womaniser constitutes cruelty under Hindu Marriage Act 1955.

The bench of Justice Nitin Jamdar and Justice Sharmila U. Deshmukh made this observation while dealing with an appeal challenging the judgment passed by the Family Court, whereby the marriage between the Appellant-wife and Respondent-husband was dissolved by a decree of divorce under Section 13 of Hindu Marriage Act.

In this case, a petition was filed by the Petitioner-wife for Restitution of Conjugal Rights, to which the Respondent-husband filed his reply and also filed a counter-claim seeking decree of divorce.

The Family Court while dealing with the counter-claim of the Respondent-husband, passed a decree dissolving the marriage under Section 13 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and ordered payment of maintenance of Rs.2000/- p.m. to the Petitioner-wife.

Advocate Vikas B. Shivarkar appearing for the appellant-wife submitted that the Family Court Judge erred in granting the decree of divorce on the ground that the allegations made in the reply to the counter claim constitute an act of cruelty.

It was further submitted that in the previous litigation between the parties, the same allegations were levelled by the Petitioner against the Respondent and it was not held to constitute an act of cruelty.

On the other hand, Onkar Kulkarni, Counsel appearing for the Respondent, supported the impugned judgment and submitted that the allegations made by the Petitioner-wife constitute an act of cruelty as she has failed to substantiate the allegations.

The Court observed that it was the case of the Petitioner in her reply to the counter-claim that her husband is an alcoholic and used to physically and mentally harass the Petitioner; that the Respondent is a womaniser and due to his vices, he used to be out of the house late at night.

The Court noted that apart from filing an affidavit of evidence reproducing the contents of the reply, there is no evidence produced by the Petitioner to substantiate her allegations.

"In the present case, we find that it is the specific case of the Respondent that the Petitioner has defamed him in the society by making false and baseless allegations, causing him mental agony, which is proved by the Respondent. On the other hand, the Petitioner has failed to substantiate the allegations made by her in the reply to the counter claim. We, therefore do not find any substance in the contention of the learned Counsel for Petitioner, that on same set of allegations, in earlier round of litigation, the allegations were not held to constitute an act of cruelty and therefore the same allegations in the present case cannot be held to be an act of cruelty.", the Court held.

The Court further noted that the repeated allegations by the petitioner on her husband shred his reputation in society.

"…the Petitioner has repeatedly made allegations assassinating the character of the Respondent, in both the rounds of litigation. The conduct of the Petitioner in continuing to make unwarranted, false and baseless allegations pertaining to the Respondent' character labelling him as an alcoholic and womaniser has resulted in shredding his reputation in the Society.", the Court observed.

The Court held that the conduct of the petitioner constitutes "cruelty" within the meaning of Section 13 (1) (i-a) of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

"In the present case, the Petitioner has failed to prove the allegations and looking at the gravity of the allegations, it is fit case for grant of divorce.", the Court held while dismissing the appeal.

Cause Title- Nalini Nagnath Uphalkar v. Nagnath Mahadev Uphalkar

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