A wife not knowing the basic cooking, her being overly attached with her parents or even being rude to her husband cannot be said to constitute cruelty, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has said while declining a Chandigarh man’s petition seeking dissolution of their marriage on grounds of cruelty and desertion – the wife left the matrimonial home in 2009 after alleged repeated harassment by her in-laws.
“At best, they can be said to be trivial issues, which may and do arise between spouses in any marriage,” the division bench of Justices Rajan Gupta and Manjari Kaul Nehru said in a verdict, adding, rather levelling of “scandalous and malicious allegations of adultery” against the wife amounts to cruelty.
The couple had married in 2004 and a daughter was born to them in September 2008. In 2013, the husband filed a petition for a divorce before the lower court which dismissed it in 2015. In the high court, the husband alleged that since the beginning of their marriage, his wife was rude and cruel to him and his family. His another ground for divorce was that she did not even know the basic cooking and many a times he had left for work without breakfast. It was also claimed that the wife was attached to her parents and did not like anybody else coming to their house. The allegation of an adulterous relationship was also levelled against her.
Observing that the instances of cruelty alleged by the husband do not, by any stretch of imagination, reveal “any unwarranted and unjustifiable conduct on the part of the wife” to make it impossible for the husband to continue living with her, the bench further said the allegations of adultery against her by her own husband would have caused “mental agony and pain more so when they were not even substantiated by any evidence”.
“It just goes to reveal the desperation and depravity of the appellant-husband, who by any means wants the respondent-wife out of his life,” the verdict dated August 29 read.
The verdict further stated that the wife repeatedly filed complaints before the authorities as her husband was not treating her well. The court added there was nothing which prevented her from taking recourse to criminal proceedings against the husband and his family but she chose instead to seek assistance of authorities to save her marriage as “she wanted to return to her matrimonial home”.
The wife denied the allegations by the husband and said he did not stand by the commitments made before authorities, before whom complaints were made by her, as part of the compromise. Alleging that she was harassed for bringing lesser dowry, the wife also said she was not only physically assaulted but also made to starve many a times. The behaviour of her husband and his wife worsened towards her when she gave birth to a daughter, the plea said, adding it forced her parents to bring her back to their home.
Observing that the husband had been looking for excuses to end the marriage with his wife on one pretext or another and also caused adverse conditions forcing her to leave the matrimonial home, the court said, “We have no hesitation in holding that the respondent-wife cannot be held guilty of desertion but it is the appellant-husband, who is guilty of ‘constructive desertion’”.