Unsubstantiated allegations made by wife in a court of law during divorce proceedings about her husband's extramarital relations amounts to cruelty, the Bombay High Court has ruled, while allowing dissolution of marriage on these grounds. The ruling was delivered recently by a bench which quashed a Pune family court order of July 11 dismissing a divorce petition filed by a man on the grounds of cruelty. Hearing an appeal of husband against the impugned order, justices G S Patel and O S Oka allowed dissolution of marriage between Mahesh and Mohini Paigude. The husband had filed a petition in the family court seeking a decree of divorce on the grounds of cruelty. One of the grounds pressed by him was an unsubstantiated allegation made by his wife that he was having extramarital relationship.
The High Court held that making such unsubstantiated allegations amounts to causing mental cruelty to the husband. "Therefore, we have no manner of doubt that unsubstantiated allegations made by the respondent wife in paragraph 6 of the written statement amounts to assault on character and reputation of the Appellant and the same constitutes a mental cruelty which entitles the Appellant to claim a decree of divorce," the judges noted. The High Court observed that the finding of this aspect has been recorded in paragraph 16 of the impugned judgment. "In fact, in paragraph 16, the learned family court Judge has accepted that there are baseless allegations in the written statement. However, the learned Judge has observed that the Appellant has no grievance about it." "Perhaps the said finding is based on incorrect reading of the statement made by husband in cross-examination that he was demanding divorce mainly on two grounds (refusal of the Respondent to maintain sexual relationship with him and that she used to threaten that she would commit suicide if he had sexual relations with her)."
"The observation of the judge that the allegation in the statement is not torturous and, therefore, does not amount to cruelty, is completely erroneous," the bench noted. "As we have already held, not only had the wife failed to substantiate allegation but in cross-examination, she has made it clear that she was entertaining a doubt about the character of appellant," the judges said. The marriage was solemnised on March 13, 2001, in accordance with Hindu Vedic rites. Various allegations of cruelty were levelled in the petition. The main allegation made