Matrimonial issues are issues of delicate human and emotional involvement. It demands mutual trust, regard, respect, love and affection with sufficient play for reasonable adjustments with the spouse. The partnership needs to adhere to the social norms as well. Matrimonial activity has now come to be regulated by a law framed in the light of certain conventions and a change in the social order. Because not every marriage is the perfect marriage and not every spouse in the relationship will compromise with each other so that their marriage can be successful.
That’s why laws are there and one of the main ground on which spouse can file petition for divorce id Cruelty. What is Cruelty? Cruelty may refer to violent acts, abusive behaviour which may affect you mentally or physically. Mere trivial acts, quarrels, petty behaviour or difference between spouses do not amount to cruelty. Cruelty can be two types:- Mental Cruelty and Physical Cruelty. There was a time where mental cruelty was not recognised under cruelty. Before the year 1976, the Hindu Marriage Act did not have ‘cruelty’ accepted as a ground for divorce, and only later in 1976 when “Cruelty” was accepted as a ground for seeking both divorces as well as judicial separation. Thus, when ‘cruelty’ was inserted in the Act, there was no exhaustive definition.
Nevertheless, it could be reasonably understood that it is the responsibility of the judiciary to make logical interpretation for providing relief in cases of both physical and mental cruelty in the rule of law
But now it is one of the main ground.
A petition was filed in Kerala High Court where Imputations were made by the respondent on the character of the petitioner, especially the accusation of illicit relationship by her with her colleagues in the profession. Whether the conduct of the respondent imputing infidelity and immorality on the petitioner amounts to inflicting mental cruelty?
Mental cruelty is that conduct which inflicts upon the other party such mental pain and suffering as would make it not possible for that party to live with the other (V. Bhagat v. D. Bhagat : (1994) 1 SCC 337)
Bench stated that to constitute cruelty, the conduct complained of must be something more serious that ‘ordinary wear and tear of married life’. In the instant case, it was submitted that the respondent had publicly humiliated the petitioner by telling two strangers that his wife was sleeping with another man on the previous night. Court noted that it was proved that the respondent had informed the colleagues of the petitioner in the hospital that she was having an affair with another doctor. Thus the respondent made the petitioner a subject of scandal in the hospital where she was working. Due to the above-stated petitioner had to resign from the hospital on account of shame. The above-discussed incidents proved that the respondent was in the habit of imputing infidelity and immorality on the part of his wife.
Injury to reputation is an important consideration in dealing with the question of cruelty.
In Raj v. Kavita : (2017) 14 SCC 194, Supreme Court held that, the conduct of a spouse levelling false accusations against the other spouse which would have the effect of lowering his/her reputation in the eyes of his/her peers, would be an act of cruelty.
In Narendra v. Meena: (2016) 9 SC 455, Supreme Court held that, levelling of absolutely false allegations and that too with regard to an extra-marital life, is quite serious and that can surely be a cause for mental cruelty.
With regard to the above discussions, it was observed that
Unending accusations and imputations can cause more pain and misery than physical beating.
Even in Manmohan Singh v. Ameeta Preet, 2003 (1) HLR 289 it was held that mental cruelty could be more painful than physical cruelty; it continues to hurt all along and any amount of healing touch or healing words would not wipe out the scars.
Mental cruelty is not some childish play which will not affect. Every person’s sensitivity is in situation may vary depending on the make-up of that person. Mental health is very crucial, because not only it effect mentally but physically too.
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