Division Bench of Gauhati High Court was hearing an Appeal prefered by Wife against the Judgement of Divorce passed by Family Court on a Petition filed by Husband on the ground of Desertion and Cruelty under Section 13 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
The husband as the petitioner filed the title suit for divorce on the ground of cruelty and desertion by the appellant wife. The short case projected by the husband was that the marriage was solemnized between the parties in 2010 according to Hindu Religious rites. The respondent husband and the appellant wife thereafter started living together as husband and wife in the matrimonial house. The appellant wife and the respondent husband were followers of Shri Shri Anukul Thakur and used to visit frequently the Ashram at Deoghar at Jharkhand. The case projected by the respondent husband is that the appellant wife insisted on visiting the Ashram at Deoghar several times in a year and consequently, the husband had to spend about Rs.1,60,000/- towards those visits, within a year and half after the marriage.
The further case of the husband that his Wife’s Brother took a loan of Rs. 2 Lakhs from him. When the brother-in-law failed to return the money, the respondent husband had to sell out a plot of his hereditary land situated at Bardhaman, West Bengal for an amount of Rs.3,50,000/- for repaying the amount he had borrowed as loan from his well wishers. However, the wife made a hue and cry and managed to gather people around and alleged that the respondent husband was not known to her and that he had robbed her of her money. Having no alternative, the respondent husband had to hand over the entire amount of Rs.3,50,000/- to the appellant wife.
It is the case of the respondent husband that the appellant wife of her own volition left the matrimonial home and started living separately in a rented house at Rangapara since the month of October, 2012. Although the husband and his family members tried to bring back the appellant wife to the matrimonial home, she refused to come. Consequently, the respondent husband was deprived of his conjugal rights as the appellant wife had deserted the husband for no fault of him and without any reasonable cause.
The appellant wife contested the suit by filing her written statement and denied the allegations made against her by the respondent husband. Her written statement projected the case of cruelty by the husband and his family members as well as desertion by the husband, and therefore she contended that the husband was not entitled to a decree of divorce as prayed for. The appellant wife contended that she was physically assaulted by the husband and there was consistent demand that the appellant wife procure money from her father, which she refused. The appellant wife also contended that on 6.5.2011, the respondent husband forcibly obtained her signatures on a few blank papers.
It is also contended by the appellant that after she became pregnant in the month of March, 2011, the respondent husband repeatedly advised her for abortion and ultimately the appellant wife was forcibly compelled to abort her foetus in 2011. Husband assaulted her with a wooden lathi causing a fracture on her left wrist joint. The appellant wife therefore prayed for dismissal of the suit with cost.
Trial Court Order
Upon consideration of the evidences adduced by the parties and upon hearing the parties at length, learned trial Court vide the impugned judgment and order allowed the suit for divorce on the ground of desertion and cruelty. Trial Court awarded an amount of Rupees three lakhs as permanent alimony.
High Court observations
‘Strong allegation made by the appellant wife in her written statement and in her oral evidence adduced before the trial Court to the effect that the petitioner husband and his family members had forced her to undergo abortion, is not at all supported by any documents produced before the trial Court. The medical documents produced before the learned trial Court do not indicate any finding by a medical professional which would suggest abortion let alone forcible abortion on the appellant wife.
The allegation of forcing her to undergo forcible abortion being a very serious allegation against the husband without corroboration has to be construed to be an act of cruelty. Such unfounded serious allegations made by the appellant wife against the husband amounts to acts of cruelty as had been held by the Apex Court’.
DB relied on Supreme Court Judgement titled Vijaykumar Ramchandra Bhate vs. Neela Vijaykumar Bhate, (2003) 6 SCC 334, where it was held that, ‘mere questioning the integrity and character of wife (or husband), judged by the Indian Standard would amount to the worst form of cruelty and insult, sufficient to substantiate cruelty in itself towards the husband (or wife) and their family members’
High Court’s decision
‘As discussed in extenso hereinabove, there is not even an iota of evidence to suggest that abortion has taken place. Medical record only suggests a case of urinary tract infection. Therefore, it stands established that such slanderous accusation has been made against the respondent-husband without any basis. Such accusations attributing criminal actions to the husband for which even medical record was submitted by the wife would certainly establish cruelty towards the husband.
Clearly, as held hereinabove, the medical record does not even suggest that abortion had taken place. Such imputations clearly tantamount to assault on the reputation and status of the husband and would have stigmatic impact. With such imputations being made, it can safely be concluded that conducive matrimonial home cannot be maintained between the wife and the husband, in such circumstances. The imputations made are a conscious and deliberate act for pungency through documents which stand belied.’
Accordingly the DB did not interfere with the impugned judgment and decree of Divorce granted to Husband. Consequently, the appeal was dismissed.
Case Title: Rakhi Paul vs Amit Paul
Bench: Chief Justice Mr. Ajai Lamba and Mr. Justice Soumitra Saikia
Case Details: Mat.App. 5/2017
Appellant Wife’s Counsel: Ms. A Neog
Respondent Husband’s Counsel: Mr. B Sharma