The Delhi High Court has observed that falsely accusing a spouse of extramarital affairs and denying parentage of their children constitutes severe mental cruelty within the bounds of marriage.

The Division Bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Neena Bansal Krishna emphasized that repudiating the matrimonial bond and rejecting innocent children due to baseless allegations inflict profound mental anguish.

The Court deemed such allegations as the worst form of insult and cruelty, sufficient to disqualify the petitioner from seeking divorce. The Bench noted that marriage deteriorates when tarnished with accusations questioning the spouse's character, fidelity, and the legitimacy of their children.

"Marriage is a relationship which flourishes when nurtured with absolute trust and compassion, and a healthy relationship never demands sacrifice of one’s dignity. Inevitably, it whittles down when sprinkled with accusations on character, fidelity, and chastity of the spouse and becomes beyond redemption when the devastating effects of this one-sided barrage of accusations is topped with rejection of paternity and legitimacy of the innocent children, by their own father," the Bench said.

This verdict stemmed from a case where the husband sought Divorce on grounds of cruelty by the wife. The husband persistently alleged his wife's infidelity, despite admitting to never witnessing any objectionable conduct.

The Court condemned the husband's baseless accusations, affirming that they constituted a grave assault on the spouse's character, reputation, and mental well-being. The Bench also stressed that the husband failed to substantiate his claims, while the wife endured the actual cruelty inflicted by relentless and unfounded allegations.

However, the Family Court's refusal to grant the Divorce was upheld by the Bench. "The learned Family Judge has rightly observed that levelling of disgusting allegations of unchastity and indecent familiarity with a person outside wedlock and allegations of extra marital relationship, constitute grave assault on the character, honour, reputation, status as well as mental health of the spouse. Such scandalous, unsubstantiated aspersions of perfidiousness attributed to the spouse and not even sparing the children, would amount to worst form of insult and cruelty, sufficient by disentitle the appellant from seeking divorce," the Court said.

The Court highlighted the persistent and unwavering nature of the accusations leveled by the appellant. Initially, the Petitioner filed a petition under Section 13(1)(i) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, citing adultery and cruelty, with Mr. XYZ. named as Respondent No. 2. However, during the course of the proceedings, the Divorce Petition was amended, focusing solely on the grounds of cruelty, and respondent No. 2's name was removed.

The Court also noted the reasoned Judgment of the Family Court judge, that dismissed the Divorce Petition, finding no grounds for intervention.

The Bench observed, "..the appellant has not been able to prove any of his allegations made against the respondent. He has made vague and general allegations regarding threats to commit suicide and implication in criminal cases... it is the respondent who has been subjected to cruelty and not the appellant."

While dismissing the Appeal, the Court ordered, "We hereby dismiss the Appeal against the judgement dated 31.01.2017 dismissing the Divorce Petition under Section 13 (1)(ia) of the Act, 1955, on the ground of cruelty filed by the appellant, as without merit. The pending application also stands disposed of."

Cause Title: XYZ v. ABC


Appellant: Advocates Juhi Arora, Saral Arora

Respondent: Advocate Karmanya Singh Choudhary

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