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Cruelty: As A Ground For Divorce

Matrimonial matters are matters of delicate human and emotional relationship. It demands mutual trust, regard, respect, love and affection with sufficient play for reasonable adjustments with the spouse. The relationship has to conform to the social norms as well. The matrimonial conduct has now come to be governed by statute framed, keeping in view such norms and changed social order.`

In this project I am going to deal with various aspects which are relevant for making any divorce but go in detail with one basis i.e. cruelty, that how Indian Hindu Law provide legal backup for this and what would be the consequences related to it. I will go with certain points like the legal provisions and basis for divorce under Hindu Law, some cases which will help us to understand the topic correctly. On basis of this I am going to form the conclusion and some opinions on basis of personal experiences in the H.C. during my internship that I have seen when judges were dealing with different divorce cases. I put a small bibliography also, from where I have taken help for my project report.

What Is Cruelty

Every matrimonial conduct, which may cause annoyance to the other, may not amount to cruelty. Mere trivial irritations, quarrels between spouses, which happen in day-to-day married life, may also not amount to cruelty. Cruelty in matrimonial life may be of unfounded variety, which can be subtle or brutal. It may be words, gestures or by mere silence, violent or non-violent.

To constitute cruelty, the conduct complained of should be "grave and weighty" so as to come to the conclusion that the petitioner spouse cannot be reasonably expected to live with the other spouse. It must be something more serious than "ordinary wear and tear of married life". The conduct taking into consideration the circumstances and background has to be examined to reach the conclusion whether the conduct complained of amounts to cruelty in the matrimonial law.

Conduct has to be considered, as noted above, in the background of several factors such as social status of parties, their education, physical and mental conditions, customs and traditions. It is difficult to lay down a precise definition or to give exhaustive description of the circumstances, which would constitute cruelty.

It must be of the type as to satisfy the conscience of the Court that the relationship between the parties had deteriorated to such extent due to the conduct of the other spouse that it would be impossible for them to live together without mental agony, torture or distress, to entitle the complaining spouse to secure divorce. Physical violence is not absolutely essential to constitute cruelty and a consistent course of conduct inflicting immeasurable mental agony and torture may well constitute cruelty. Mental cruelty may consist of verbal abuses and insults by using filthy and abusive language leading to constant disturbance of mental peace of the other party.

Other Grounds Of Divorce

Apart from the cruelty there are several other bases for divorce on which one can claim divorce and some of those are as follows;
  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Conversion
  • Entering new religion
  • Unsoundness of mind etc.

There are certain grounds, which are provided by law specially to the women:

  • Husband having more than one wife living
  • Marriage before attainment of fifteen years
  • Consent obtained by force etc.
So on these above grounds men and women can claim for decree of divorce in front of the law

Legal Provisions
The Hindu Marriage Act-1955 has given the legal provision for divorce on basis of cruelty under section - 13(1)(ia) as follows:
�Any marriage solemnized, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, may, on a petition presented by either the husband or the wife, be dissolved by a decree of divorce on the ground that the other party has, after the solemnization of the marriage, treated the petitioner with cruelty�.

On basis of this section we can explain this legal basis for the divorce as anybody who is getting suffer from the other party in physical manner or a mental torture or any other type of harassment then the other can reach to the court with this base and claim for the divorce. And there are various cases where courts held that the intention to be cruel is not an essential element of cruelty as envisaged under this section.


Sanno Kumari v/s Krishan Kumar

The Delhi High Court has dissolved marriage between a couple by decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty observing that the husband had viewed his wife as a cash cow on getting a job with Delhi Police without any emotional ties.

Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh was dealing with an appeal filed by a wife challenging the Family Court order after observing neither of the grounds of cruelty or desertion was established by her.

The marriage was solemnised between the couple in the year 2000 when the wife was a minor and was 13 years old whereas the husband was 19 year old.

Even after attaining majority in 2005, the wife continued to reside at her parental home till November 2014. During the said period, she was studying and on account of her own merit, was able to secure a job with Delhi Police.

While it was the case of the the wife that her family was trying to persuade the husband to take her to the matrimonial home, he showed no interest in the matter. According to the wife, it was only after the wife got a job with Delhi Police in the year 2014, that the he became interested in calling her to the matrimonial home on account of the fact that she had secured a stable job and income.

The Court took note of the fact that there was no explanation as to why the wife was not taken into the matrimonial home soon after she attained majority in the year 2005, and why she had to live with her parents till the year 2014.

Therefore, observing that it was a clear case of perpetration of mental cruelty established against the husband, the Court set aside the impugned judgment and allowed the appeal while dissolving the marriage by decree of divorce under sec. 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act.

On basis of these various points we can say how in history there was no such law, which governs the matter of divorce in Hindu society but with the implementation of the Hindu Marriage Act-1955, this vacuum has been filled with proper directions and the law very well handling these matters with the help of the courts.

There are many grounds for the divorce provided by law but since we are mainly concerned to the cruelty and in context of this we have seen how the courts have interpreted cruelty within the boundaries of law according to the situation.

Written By: Archana Bamaniya

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