The Allahabad High Court has reiterated that cruelty need not be only physical in nature, and that mental cruelty can also make it impossible for the other spouse to continue the marital relationship.

To that extent, it was observed that, "the law is very well settled that it need not be physical in nature only and that there may be mental cruelty as well to the extent that it becomes impossible for the other spouse to continue in the marital relationship."

Upholding a divorce granted to a couple living separately for almost 13 years, the Bench of Justice Vivek Kumar Birla and Justice Donadi Ramesh observed that, "at least 13 years have passed since both are living separately, which by itself amounts to cruelty under Section 13 (1)(ia) of the Act."

Counsel Vinay Kumar Mishra and Counsel Vishesh Rajvanshi appeared for the appellant.

In this case, the marriage between the parties took place in 2002 according to Hindu rites. After a brief period of living together, the wife returned to her paternal home and later took up a job in a different city, living separately from her husband. Although they initially lived together in Mumbai, the wife eventually moved away. In the divorce petition, the husband claimed mental and physical cruelty, asserting that he was deserted and the marriage had irretrievably broken down.

The wife, in her written statement, alleged beatings, torture, demands for dowry, and adultery. Conciliation was attempted during the proceedings, but since the wife did not appear on the subsequent date, it was deemed she was uninterested in conciliation, and the Court below proceeded with recording evidence.

The Court below, despite finding no proof of desertion, concluded that the marriage had irretrievably broken down under Section 13 (1)(ia) (cruelty) and (ib) (dissertation) of the Hindu Marriage Act. The wife's allegations of extramarital affairs against the husband were not proven, and the Court noted that her claims of physical torture were false, citing the absence of an FIR and her pre-existing eye problem before marriage. Consequently, the Court below held that mental cruelty was inflicted upon the husband.

The High Court observed that undue harassment and thus, mental cruelty was clearly established, and therefore, the husband was rightly granted divorce by the Court below. To that end, the Court placed reliance on the case of a catena of judgments, including Samar Ghosh vs Jaya Ghosh.

In light of the same, it was held that the appeal lacked merit and was dismissed.

Cause Title: X vs Y

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