Bombay High Court recently held that a wife raising allegations against her husband in court by labelling him as an “alcoholic” and “womaniser” without substantiating the allegations, would amount to cruelty and, therefore, entitles him to divorce.
The bench comprising Justice Nitin Jamdar and Justice Sharmila U Deshmukh dismissed an appeal filed by the appellant-wife challenging a family court’s decree that dissolved her marriage to a retired Army officer who had passed away during the pendency of the appeal before the High Court.
“We find that the petitioner has repeatedly made allegations assassinating the character of the respondent, in both the rounds of litigation. The conduct of the Petitioner in continuing to make unwarranted, false and baseless allegations pertaining to the respondent’ character labelling him as an alcoholic and womaniser has resulted in shredding his reputation in the society,” the bench stated.
The wife had filed a petition before the family court seeking restitution of conjugal rights. The husband filed a reply and also a counter claim seeking a divorce. The Court held that the allegations without substantiation amount to cruelty and, therefore, granted a divorce decree to the respondent-husband.
Advocate Vikas B Shivarkar, appearing for the appellant wife, submitted that the family court erred in holding that the allegations constituted an act of cruelty.
Advocate Shivarkar further stated that the same allegations were levelled by the appellant against the respondent in the previous litigations and it was not held to be an act of cruelty.
On the other hand, advocate Onkar Kulkarni representing respondent husband supported the High Court’s judgment which held that the allegations made by the wife constituted an act of cruelty as she failed to substantiate her allegations.
While noting the appellant’s own sister didn’t corroborate the appellant’s case, the bench noted, “Pertinently, the petitioner’s own sister has not corroborated the case of the Petitioner and has merely deposed that the respondent used to consume liquor, but there is no assertion of being alcoholic which has distinct connotation. The petitioner has alleged that the respondent used to visit her sister on one pretext or other, yet the evidence of the petitioner’s sister does not give any details. The evidence on record produced by the petitioner fails to prove the allegations made by her in pleadings.”
The bench went on to add that allegations were not held to be cruel in previous litigation because the husband had not contended that he suffered mental torture by virtue of allegations filed by the wife.
The respondent had submitted that the petitioner had defamed him in society by making false and baseless allegations causing him mental agony which he had proved.
The bench further held that the petitioner repeatedly made allegations against the respondent which led to the shredding his reputation in society.
Therefore, the bench held that the husband’s stand that he could not put up with such conduct of the wife defaming him and that he cannot continue with the matrimonial relationship in the face of such allegations.
The High Court bench dismissed the appellant wife’s appeal while holding that her conduct constituted cruelty within the meaning of Section 13 (1) (i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act.