The Delhi High Court held that making derogatory complaints to the employer of a spouse with the intent to harm their professional reputation and financial well-being amounted to cruelty.

The Court granted divorce to the husband under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (HMA) as it was “abundantly clear” that the wife’s conduct towards the husband amounted to cruelty. The Court stated that the behaviour of the wife was such which caused “serious concern in the mind” of the husband by “disturbing his mental peace.

Such incidents create an atmosphere of tension and instability within the marital relationship, causing emotional harm to both parties involved,” the Court remarked. The Court opined that the wife’s admission to sending a message containing derogatory language towards the husband’s father and filing of complaints with his employer was considered cruelty.

A Division Bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Neena Bansal Krishna observed, “By making false allegations of adultery, making complaints to his employer, passing derogatory comments against his father and filing multiple litigations against him, she has committed mental cruelty upon the appellant within the ambit of Section 13 (1) (ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act. The respondent has lived for a short span of less than even one year with the appellant and has deliberately chosen to stay away with his parents and son of the parties, thereby depriving the appellant of marital bliss and fatherhood.

Sr. Advocate Sudhir Nandrajog represented the appellant, while Advocate Priya Puri appeared for the respondent.

The Husband and wife had only lived together for a brief period of less than a year and after birth of their child, they entered into multiple legal disputes, lasting over 10 years. The husband had filed for a divorce alleging cruelty, while the wife had filed a petition for restitution of conjugal rights.

The family court had rejected the husband’s petition stating that he had merely narrated various incidents, including threats by brandishing a knife and sending vulgar messages, however, failed to provide sufficient proof of the claims.

The High Court stated that the family court had failed to appreciate that the wife used defamatory language directed towards her in-laws, which “not only undermines the dignity and reputation of the individuals but also erodes the trust and respect necessary for a healthy marital bond.

The Court pointed out how the wife filed a petition under Section 9 of the HMA “as an eye wash to pretend she was willing to live with appellant” and then did not pursue it deliberately to delay the divorce proceedings, causing further harassment to the husband.

There is no doubt that prolonged litigations between the spouses, undermines the potential for amicable resolution, exacerbates animosity, and impedes the parties’ ability to move forward constructively. This extended legal battle has inflicted significant emotional, psychological, and financial strain on both parties, thereby perpetuating a hostile and contentious environment. Consequently, the persistent engagement in litigation over an extended period can be viewed as a form of cruelty, spanning over a decade, can be construed as cruelty,” the Court held.

Accordingly, the High Court allowed the appeal.

Cause Title: ABC v. XYZ (Neutral Citation: 2024:DHC:2595-DB)


Appellant: Sr. Advocate Sudhir Nandrajog; Advocate Kanishk Ahuja

Respondent: Advocates Priya Puri and Mr. Ranjan Dubey

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