Wife to constrain the Husband to be separated from the family would be torturous for the husband and this constitutes an act of 'cruelty'

In the Civil Appeal No. 3253 of 2008 decided on 06.10.2016 the Supreme Court of India has held that "Wife to constrain the Husband to be separated from the family would be torturous for the husband and this constitutes an act of 'cruelty'. "

The case of the Appellant Husband was that the Respondent Wife did not live happily with the Appellant Husband even for a month after the marriage. The reason for filing the divorce petition was that the Respondent wife had become cruel because of her highly suspicious nature and she used to level absolutely frivolous but serious allegations against Appellant Husband regarding his character and more particularly about his extra-marital relationship. Moreover, the Respondent Wife wanted the Appellant Husband to leave his parents and other family members and to get separated from them so that the Respondent Wife can live independently; and in that event it would become more torturous for the Appellant Husband to stay only with the Respondent wife with her such nature and behaviour.

Serious allegations were levelled about the moral character of the Appellant Husband to the effect that he was having an extra-marital affair with a maid, named Kamla. Another important allegation was that the Respondent Wife would very often threaten the Appellant Husband that she would commit suicide and had made an attempt on 02.07.1995. Subsequently the Appellant Husband had filed a divorce petition in the Family Court, Bangalore seeking divorce from the Respondent Wife.

Principal Judge of the Family Court in Bangalore in M.C. No.603 of 1995 under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Act had granted the Appellant Husband a decree of divorce on 17th November, 2001. Being aggrieved by the judgment and decree of divorce dated 17th November, 2001, the Respondent wife had filed Miscellaneous First Appeal No.171 of 2002 (FC), under Section 28(1) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 which has been allowed by the High Court on 8th March, 2006, whereby the decree of divorce dated 17th November, 2001 has been set aside.

This appeal has been filed by the Appellant husband, whose decree for divorce passed by the Trial Court has been set aside by the impugned judgment dated 8th March, 2006 passed by the High Court of Karnataka at Bangalore in Miscellaneous First Appeal No.171 of 2002 (FC).

The Hon'ble Court held that "It is not a common practice or desirable culture for a Hindu son in India to get separated from the parents upon getting married at the instance of the wife, especially when the son is the only earning member in the family. A son, brought up and given education by his parents, has a moral and legal obligation to take care and maintain the parents, when they become old and when they have either no income or have a meagre income. In India, generally people do not subscribe to the western thought, where, upon getting married or attaining majority, the son gets separated from the family. In normal circumstances, a wife is expected to be with the family of the husband after the marriage. She becomes integral to and forms part of the family of the husband and normally without any justifiable strong reason she would never insist that her husband should get separated from the family and live only with her".

Further the Court held that "in a Hindu society, it is a pious obligation of the son to maintain the parents. If a wife makes an attempt to deviate from the normal practice and normal custom of the society, she must have some justifiable reason for that and in this case, we do not find any justifiable reason, except monetary consideration of the Respondent wife. In our opinion, normally, no husband would tolerate this and no son would like to be separated from his old parents and other family members, who are also dependent upon his income. The persistent effort of the Respondent wife to constrain the Appellant to be separated from the family would be torturous for the husband and in our opinion, the trial Court was right when it came to the conclusion that this constitutes an act of 'cruelty'."

"Unsubstantiated allegations levelled by the Respondent wife and the threats and attempt to commit suicide by her amounted to mental cruelty and therefore, the marriage deserves to be dissolved by a decree of divorce on the ground stated in Section 13(1)(ia) of the Act."