New Delhi — Abusing in-laws and not allowing them to reside in the matrimonial home by a woman amounts to cruelty to her spouse, ground enough for grant of divorce, the Supreme Court has ruled while allowing an NRI’s plea for legal separation from his wife.
A bench of Justices Vikaramajit Sen and A M Sapre said such incidents could not be termed as “wear and tear” of family life as held by Madras High Court which had said that a couple must be prepared to face such situations in matrimonial relationship.
The NRI had filed a divorce petition alleging that his wife was abusive to his family members and did not allow his parents and siblings to stay in his house when they visited the US.
Referring to an incident, the husband told the court that his wife had once locked him and his sister out of the house and abused them saying they belonged to a ‘prostitute family’. She refused to allow her sister-in-law to enter the house and even lodged a police complaint against her husband.
Taking into accounts all the evidence produced by the husband including abusive voicemails and emails he received from wife, while she was in India, the bench said it was a clear case of mental cruelty and husband was entitled for divorce.
“If a spouse abuses the other as being born from a prostitute, this cannot be termed as ‘wear and tear’ of family life. Summoning police on false or flimsy grounds cannot also be similarly viewed. Making it impossible for any close relatives to visit or reside in the matrimonial home would also indubitably result in cruelty to the spouse,” the bench said.
The apex court upheld the trial court order which had granted divorce on the basis of husband’s plea. The trial court order was quashed by the high court after which the husband approached the Supreme Court.
“We have carefully considered the matter, and find that we are unable to uphold the conclusions of the high court. The appellant (husband) had duly pleaded instances of mental cruelty which he proved in evidence and documents. An examination of the divorce petition makes it abundantly clear that various allegations of cruelty were made out and a number of incidents were mentioned therein,” the apex court said.
The bench refused to give credence to wife’s allegations that the husband was living a wayward life and her father-in-law misbehaved, after she failed to produce any evidence to substantiate her claims.