The Delhi High Court held that cruelty is constituted by depriving a couple of each other's company, indicating that a marriage cannot survive in such cases. The Court held that the denial of a conjugal relationship is deemed an act of extreme cruelty.

The Court granted a decree of divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (HMA) to the husband, holding that a relationship that has come to an end only brings suffering and distress, and to allow the same would constitute mental cruelty. Prolonged legal battles that sustain marital ties only result in additional cruelty and bitterness.

A Division Bench of Justice Neena Bansal Krishna and Justice Suresh Kumar Kait observed “It needs no reiteration that the bedrock of any matrimonial relationship is cohabitation and conjugal relationship. For a couple to be deprived of each other’s company, proves that the marriage cannot survive, and such deprivation of conjugal relationship is an act of extreme cruelty.

Advocate Pankaj Pandey appeared for the appellant while Advocate Stuti Gupta appeared for the respondent.

The parties were married in 1998 and had two children. The husband claimed that the wife was greedy, quarrelsome, and jealous, often demanding larger amounts for personal needs. Despite him fulfilling matrimonial obligations, the wife allegedly mistreated his widowed mother, leading to the mother leaving the house for months on end. He also claimed instances of the wife leaving the matrimonial home without cause. The wife denied the allegations, attributing leaving the matrimonial home to domestic violence. She claimed cruelty and abuse by her husband and sought maintenance under Section 125 CrPC and filed a complaint under Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (DV Act).

The Family Court had found no specific instance of cruelty proved by the husband. The Court concluded that the husband failed to demonstrate cruelty, and the divorce petition was dismissed.

The husband filed an appeal to challenge this decision, arguing that the wife's intolerance towards the mother-in-law was the root cause of marital discord. The husband contended that the wife's constant stress and trauma created a hostile environment and amounted to cruelty.

Citing the case of Samar Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh (2007) 4 SCC 511, the Court held that a long period of continuous separation could lead to the irreparable breakdown of the matrimonial bond, constituting mental cruelty.

The Court observed that the acts of the wife over the years constituted mental cruelty, entitling the husband to divorce. Accordingly, the Court allowed the Husband's appeal and granted divorce.

Cause Title: Prem Kumar v. Kalpana Kumar

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