On divorce, Supreme Court says mental cruelty, its effects vary from 'person to person'

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 2 2014, 01:30am hrs
Mental cruelty, a major ground for grant of decree of divorce, cannot be measured with arithmetical exactitude as it varies from society to society and person-to-person, the Supreme Court has said.

Granting divorce to a Banglore-based doctor couple on the singular ground of mental cruelty, a bench of justices S J Mukhopadhaya and Dipak Misra said social status of a person, alleging cruelty, is also key factor in measuring it and its effects.

"Mental cruelty and its effect cannot be stated with arithmetical exactitude. It varies from individual to individual, from society to society and also depends on the status of the persons.

"What would be a mental cruelty in the life of two individuals belonging to particular strata of the society may not amount to mental cruelty in respect of another couple belonging to a different stratum of society," the bench said.

Dealing with the facts of the case, the bench said the husband deserved the divorce on the ground of cruelty as he was being subjected to humiliation.

It also said that false allegations were levelled against him and his relatives were dragged into the matrimonial dispute and they amounted to mental cruelty.

"We are disposed to think that the husband has reasons to feel that he has been humiliated, for allegations have been made against him which are not correct.

"His relatives have been dragged into the matrimonial controversy, the assertions in the written statement depict him as if he had tacitly conceded to have harboured notions of gender insensitivity or some kind of male chauvinism, his parents and he are ignored in the naming ceremony of the son, and he comes to learn from others that his wife had gone to Gulbarga to prosecute her studies," the court said.

The bench was hearing an appeal filed by the woman, a doctor, against the Karnataka High Court order.

The High Court had reversed the decree for restitution of conjugal rights granted in her favour by the family court and rather, granted divorce to her husband, also a doctor.

The bench said, "The sanguine concept of marriage presumably has become illusory and it would not be in-apposite to say that the wife has shown anaemic emotional disposition to the husband. Therefore, the decree of divorce granted by the High Court deserves to be affirmed singularly on the ground of mental cruelty."

"Analysing the evidence, we are of the considered opinion that it is not established that the appellant-wife had deserted the husband for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition," the bench said.

It also did not agree with the wife's plea that the relatives of her estranged husband used to interfere in the day-to-day affairs of their life.

"That apart, the communications, after the decree for restitution of conjugal rights, indicate the attitude of the wife as if she is playing a game of chess," the bench said.

"From this kind of attitude and treatment, it can be inferred that the husband has been treated with mental cruelty and definitely he has faced ignominy being an Associate Professor at a medical college. When one enjoys social status working in a Government hospital, this humiliation affects the reputation," the court said.