Indecent allegations against spouse amount to cruelty: SC

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SummaryThe apex court set side the verdict of Andhra Pradesh High Court which held that there is no question of causing cruelty to spouse if husband-wife do not stay together.

Filing complaints and making indecent allegations against spouses can be ground for granting divorce, the Supreme Court today ruled while holding that staying together is not a pre-condition for causing mental cruelty to a life partner.

The apex court set side the verdict of Andhra Pradesh High Court which held that there is no question of causing cruelty to spouse if husband-wife do not stay together.

"In our opinion, the high court wrongly held that because the husband and the wife did not stay together there is no question of the parties causing cruelty to each other. Staying together under the same roof is not a pre-condition for mental cruelty. Spouse can cause mental cruelty by his or her conduct even while he or she is not staying under the same roof," the court said.

A bench of justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai granted divorce to a couple who were living separately for the last 10 years, from just a day after their marriage.

The bench noted that in this case the wife had made indecent and defamatory allegations about her husband and in-laws while living separately and said that it amounted to causing mental cruelty to her spouse.

"While staying away, a spouse can cause mental cruelty to the other spouse by sending vulgar and defamatory letters or notices or filing complaints containing indecent allegations or by initiating number of judicial proceedings making the other spouse's life miserable. This is what has happened in this case," the bench said.

The apex court passed the order on an appeal filed by the husband challenging the high court's verdict for dismissing his plea of divorce on the ground of cruelty.

After going through the facts of the case, the Supreme Court came to the conclusion that there is unbridgeable distance between the two and said, "If we refuse to sever the tie, it may lead to mental cruelty.

"Making unfounded indecent defamatory allegations against the spouse or his or her relatives in the pleadings, filing of complaints or issuing notices or news items which may have adverse impact on the business prospect or the job of the spouse and filing repeated false complaints and cases in the court against the spouse would, in the facts of a case, amount to causing mental cruelty to the other spouse."

It turned down the plea of the wife who expressed desire to live with her husband.

"A marriage which is

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