The Kerala High Court observed that it is unreasonable to expect any wife to endure cruelty and sacrifice her physical, mental, and personal well-being for the sake of her spouse's pleasure.

The Court dismissed the Appeal of the husband challenging the Family Court’s order dismissing his plea seeking divorce due to cruelty and desertion by the wife.

The Court noted that the husband sought dissolution citing cruelty, desertion, and failure to fulfill marital obligations by his wife. However, the evidence presented by the wife regarding cruelty inflicted by the husband outweighs that presented by the husband.

The Bench comprising Justice Anil K. Narendran and Justice G. Girish observed, “no wife could be expected to tolerate the acts of cruelty of the nature borne out of the evidence adduced by the respondent in this case against the appellant, and sacrifice her physical and mental health and personal safety for the sadistic pleasure of her life-partner”.

Advocates Jimmy George and M. R. Suresh appeared for the Appellant.

The Appellant, dissatisfied with the Family Court's rejection of his petition for dissolution of marriage due to cruelty and desertion, filed an appeal before the High Court.

Alleging mistreatment from his spouse, the Appellant sought a divorce, claiming insults, refusal to perform marital duties, and parental disrespect. Despite counselling, the Family Court dismissed the Appellant's claims, prompting this appeal.

The Court noted that the Appellant's petition lacked specific instances of cruelty, with only general allegations provided. No evidence beyond the Appellant's testimony supported claims of disturbance or maltreatment. Despite alleging mediation attempts, no corroborating witnesses were presented. Conversely, evidence from the Respondent and her family detailed severe abuse by the Appellant, suggesting he was the perpetrator of cruelty, making cohabitation impossible for the Respondent.

The Bench observed that in matrimonial matters, cruelty encompasses acts endangering the partner's life, limb, or health, whether physical or mental. Mental cruelty causes emotional suffering or fear in maintaining marital life. However, it's crucial to differentiate cruelty from typical family life challenges.

The Court noted the appellant's allegations primarily concern the respondent's inability to foster a harmonious family environment. Such incompatibility doesn't reach the threshold of cruelty warranting marital dissolution. Each couple's tolerance levels vary, with the court considering factors like background, education, and status to determine if alleged cruelty justifies divorce.

The Court noted that the respondent, with an education up to the 10th standard, attempted to maintain the marriage despite alleged cruelty from the appellant for about eight years. Considering the Respondent's unemployed and undereducated status, expecting her to bear the responsibility and expenses of the child while also trying to sustain herself financially was unreasonable. Additionally, the respondent has initiated proceedings seeking maintenance from the appellant due to her inability to support herself. Given these circumstances, it is unjust to label the respondent as cruel for not pursuing custody of her child.

Where a husband has sought the dissolution of his marriage on the ground of cruelty, desertion and non-fulfilment of marital obligations of his wife, who in turn, had complained of unbearable matrimonial cruelty on the part of her husband, which had compelled her to part his companionship. As already stated above, the evidence adduced before the Family Court, by the respondent, about the cruelty attributed to the appellant, would outweigh and supersede the evidence of cruelty relied on by the appellant”, the Bench noted.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the Appeal.

Cause Title: X vs Y (2024/KER/9360)

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