The behaviour of a spouse showing “lack of respect, faith and understanding” and causing pain and disrepute to the other partner amounts to cruelty, the Delhi High Court has said while upholding decree of divorce granted to a CRPF officer after 41 year of marriage.
“If one spouse’s consistent behaviour shows lack of respect, understanding, faith and also reveals acts intended to — and which have caused pain, discomfort or brought disrespect or disrepute to the other spouse, such behaviour would constitute cruelty,” a bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and Deepa Sharma said, adding it would entitle the other spouse for grant of divorce on the ground of cruelty.
The bench termed “trust, mutual respect, understanding and commitment” as key virtues required to sustain a marriage.
It observed that spouses were expected to be supportive of each other and be the pillars of strength in adversities. Couples are expected to “tolerate and accommodate each other’s propensities, preferences and habits” and should not expect to have identical tastes, temperament and behavioural traits.
The observations of the High Court came as it dismissed a woman’s plea against a trial court decision dissolving her marriage with a CRPF Commandant on the grounds of mental cruelty. They had got married in 1975.
In its verdict, the bench upheld trial court’s finding that the husband was humiliated due to false proceedings initiated by his wife before the Executive Magistrate which had lowered his reputation in the eyes of not only his seniors but also juniors.
The High Court noted that when the Commandant was posted in Kashmir to combat terrorism, his wife wrote letters to his senior CRPF officials alleging he had an inclination towards a family in the Valley, leading to inquiries against him.
Elaborating further, the bench said this insinuation had led to the transfer of the official to Assam from Kashmir, causing him “serious trouble and embarrassment”.
The High Court, in its 16-page verdict, said, “It could be reasonably assumed that it affected his standing in the eyes of his staff and colleagues, and this was bound to cause him humiliation and anguish, as there was no truth in the complaint.”
The bench further said that false complaints leading to enquiries, transfers, face loss in front of seniors and subordinates, clearly showed that the behaviour of the wife had lowered the man’s reputation and professional standing.
“There was absence of trust, faith and respect for the respondent (man). Appellant (the woman) has been persistently cruel towards her husband not only during their stay together but also during the divorce proceedings which is apparent from the fact that she had levelled the unsubstantiated charges of adultery against him.
“These factors cumulatively prove cruelty on the part of the appellant, as to entitle the husband to dissolution of the marriage,” the bench added.