In India where marriage is the union between man and woman to get social status in the society and marriage is nothing but procreation and caring of the child. According to Westmark Marriage has been often like as an institution made by itself. As there is increase in number of marriages every day, at the same time breakdown of marriages in the society has also been seen to be increasing whether by fault of husband or wife. Though cases filed by wife against husband and in-laws under Domestic Violence Act and 498-A of IPC to claim maintenance and divorce but all complaints are not filed bona-fidely. Freedoms of education, job opportunities, economic independence and social attitude have brought tremendous change in the status of women. The balance of scale has tilted reversely in favour of women.
Cruelty is an inhuman treatment and it is an act that causes mental sufferings and endangers to the life and health of the other. Cruelty may be in the form of physical as well as mental by the act either of the husband or the wife. Though it is the women who have always been subjected to be tortured and harassed by the husband and relatives, in fact saying this will not be proper as cases of torture and harassment against the husband by the wife is increasing day by day. Cruelty is the main ground to seek divorce as defined under ‘Sec 13(1) (i-a)’ of ‘The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955’ and party who is filing a case must prove that living between husband and wife became impossible.
There are many provisions made applicable for the protection of the women, which has got recognition from our constitutional law. The biased nature of these laws is evident from that fact that unlike almost all laws in INDIA the burden to prove innocence lies on the accused and this means as soon as the complaint is made by the aggrieved person/ wife, the result is that the husband and his family may be immediately arrested and will be considered as accused in the eyes of law. According to the ‘Section 498-A’ of the ‘IPC’ the wife and her parental family can charge any or all of the husband’s family of physical or mental cruelty but genuineness of the case has to be looked into by the court as this section is cognizable, non-compoundable and non-bailable in nature.
What amounts to cruelty against husband? Though it is the duty of the court to decide the case based on facts and circumstances but what amounts to cruelty is an important aspect as misuse of Laws by the wife against husband in society is growing day by day and most apparently some Indian Urban educated women have turned the tables and are using these laws as weapon to unleash personal vendetta on their husbands and innocent relatives and there are certain grounds on which cruelty against husband can be proved:-
• Misuse of Dowry Laws, Domestic Violence Act and ‘Sec: 498-A’ of IPC by wife against husband and in-laws of husband through lodging false complaints.
• Desertion by wife which means wife deliberately intending for separation and to bring cohabitation permanently to an end.
• Adultery by the wife means wife having sexual relationship with some other person during the lifetime of marriage and there must be strict law to punish wife who has committed adultery.
• Wife opting out for second marriage without applying for the divorce proceedings.
• Threatening to leave husband’s home and threat to commit suicide by the wife.
• Cruel behavior of wife where wife tearing the shirt of the husband, refusing to cook food properly or on time and breaking of the mangalsutra in the presence of husband’s relatives.
• Abusing and accusing husband by way of insulting in presence of in-laws and in some cases wife abusing husband in front of office staff members.
• Wife refusing to have sex with husband without any sufficient reasons which can be considered as a ground of cruelty and husband can file a divorce petition.
• Lowering reputation of the husband by using derogatory words in presence of family members and elders.
• Lodging FIR against husband and in-laws which has later proved as false report.
• Conduct and misbehavior of the wife against husband i.e. pressuring husband to leave his home, insisting for the separate residence, mentally torture and disrespectful behavior towards husband and in-laws as well.
• Some other grounds of cruelty i.e. mental disorder and unsoundness of wife, Impotency of wife, illicit relationship of wife with some other person and Wife suffering from the filarial.
• Extra-marital affairs of wife can also be a ground of cruelty against the husband.
• Initiating criminal proceedings against husband and in-laws of husband with mala-fide intention by the wife.
CASE LAWS: situations in Hindu marriage where a wife was held as ‘cruel’ to the husband and the Hindu divorce law was applied by the Supreme Court:
I. Mrs. Deepalakshmi Saehia Zingade v/s Sachi Rameshrao Zingade (AIR 2010 Bom 16)
In this case petitioner/wife filed a false case against her husband on the ground of ‘Husband Having Girl Friend’ which is proved as false in a court of law so it can be considered as cruelty against husband.
II. Anil Bharadwaj v Nimlesh Bharadwaj (AIR 1987 Del 111)
According to this case a wife who refuses to have sexual intercourse with the husband without giving any reason was proved as sufficient ground which amounts to cruelty against husband.
III. Kalpana v. Surendranath (AIR 1985 All 253)
According to this case it has been observed that where a wife who refuses to prepare tea for the husband’s friends was declared by the court as cruelty to husband.
Though the amendments introduced in the penal code are with the laudable object of eradicating the evil of Dowry, such provisions cannot be allowed to be misused by the parents and the relatives of a psychopath wife who may have chosen to end her life for reason which may be many other than cruelty. The glaring reality cannot be ignored that the ugly trend of false implications in view to harass and blackmail an innocent spouse and his relatives, i.e. fast emerging. A strict law need to be passed by the parliament for saving the institution of marriage and to punish those women who are trying to misguide the court by filing false reports just to make the life of men miserable and ‘justice should not only be done but manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done’.