The Delhi High Court, while upholding the divorce granted to a husband, said that publicly harassing, humiliating, and verbally attacking the husband by his wife is an act of extreme cruelty.

The Court was deciding an appeal under Section 19 of the Family Courts Act, 1984 preferred by the wife against the judgment of the Additional Principal Judge, Family Court which had granted divorce on the ground of cruelty in a petition filed by the husband.

A Division Bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Neena Bansal Krishna held, “… it is no more res integra that such reckless, defamatory, humiliating and unsubstantiated allegations by one spouse, which has the impact of publically tarnishing the image of the other spouse, is nothing but acts of extreme cruelty. In the present case as well, the appellant always had doubts on the fidelity of her husband which necessarily led to harassment resulting in mental cruelty to the respondent/husband. The strongest pillars on which any marriage stands is trust, faith and respect, and thus, no person can reasonably be expected to put with such disrespectful conduct of their "significant other" who lacks faith in her partner. … Unfortunately, here is a case where the husband himself is being publically harassed, humiliated and verbally-attacked by his wife, who had gone to the extent of levelling allegation of infidelity during his office meetings in front of all his office staff/guests. She even took to harassing the woman workers of his office and left no stone unturned to portray him as a womanizer in the office. This behaviour is but an act of extreme cruelty to the respondent/husband.”

The Bench said that any spouse not only expects their partner to respect them but also envisions that in times of need, the spouse would act as a shield to protect their image and reputation.

Advocate Navin Sharma appeared for the appellant while Advocate Jai Bansal appeared for the respondent.

Brief Facts -

The parties got married in 2000 and one son, was born from their wedlock in 2004. The respondent/husband asserted that during the pre-nuptial negotiations, it was falsely projected that the appellant/wife was an MBA, however, after the marriage, he came across the educational documents of his wife and could not find any MBA Certificate. He also found that most of the certificates were in different names and on inquiry from her, she stated that her father used to write her name differently in the educational records anything to make the so-called DATA look “colorful”. She further admitted that she was not an MBA graduate but was advised to claim so in her matrimonial home. The husband claimed that he spent lot of money in getting her admitted to various English-Speaking Schools and Finishing Schools, but to his shock and surprise, she did not attend any of these programs for more than 2-3 days, resulting in wasteful expenditure and financial strain.

It was claimed that the husband was harassed by his wife at the instance of her father on one pretext or the other including fighting with him and objecting to his travel for business purpose, meeting with friends and talking to his friends and lady colleagues. It was further alleged that the wife was of a suspecting nature, which is evident from the fact that when they went out to a restaurant and when she saw the husband looking at a painting, she suspected him of looking at other women standing below the painting and violently reacted by spilling the food and creating a ruckus. She would frequently pick up fights, suspecting that the husband was having interest in the other women and thereby, caused embarrassment for him in the restaurants and public spaces.

The High Court in the above context of the case noted, “Any successful marriage is built on mutual respect and faith. If either is compromised beyond a level, the end of the relationship is inevitable as no relationship can stand on half-truth, half-lies, half-respect and half-faith. … The other act of cruelty relied upon by the respondent was that the appellant/wife used to allege that the respondent/husband was impotent. She compelled him to go for Doppler‟s Impotency Test in which he was found to be fit. Such allegations caused mental cruelty to the respondent.”

The Court further observed that the husband was made to undergo the Impotency Test in which he was found to be fit. It also took note of the fact that in her cross-examination, the wife admitted that the husband used to provide everything to her and the child and that he never made any dowry demands.

“Learned Addl. Principal Judge has rightly concluded that levelling of such allegations of dowry demands would certainly cause mental cruelty to the respondent and his family members. … Undeniably, multiple litigation got initiated interse the parties. … Her candid admissions in her testimony establish that she has alienated the child from the respondent and the grandparents and all the efforts made by the husband to develop a bond with the child have been thwarted by the appellant. She is also creating a non-conducive atmosphere and instilling bitterness in the child towards the respondent and his parents. She herself asserted that the child does not want to meet the respondent since he wears his hair in a pony tail”, said the Court.

The Court added that such absurd explanations by the appellant to say that the child has no interest in meeting the father only leads to one conclusion and that she has not only alienated the child from the respondent but has not made any effort to bridge the gap between the father and the son despite she being in the same house where the parents-in-law are residing.

“To compound all her acts, she used the child as a weapon and has totally alienated him from the respondent. All these acts which happened in a span of about six years that they spent together, proved that the respondent was subjected to cruelty and harassment which is sufficient to create mental agony and trauma in his mind to the extent that he at times even thought of committing suicide. The acts of the appellant, as proved, can only be termed as acts of cruelty towards the respondent”, concluded the Court.

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the appeal and upheld the divorce.

Cause Title- ABC v. XYZ (Neutral Citation: 2023:DHC:9365-DB)

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