(2021) 3 SCC 742
JUSTICE SANJAY KISHAN KAUL
JUSTICE DINESH MAHESHWARI
JUSTICE HRISHIKESH ROY
In the present case an army officer’s wife made numerous malicious complaints to his superiors and various authorities. On which the supreme court set aside the judgement of high court and held that these types of conduct cannot be considered to be “squabbles of ordinary middle class married life” and it amounted to mental cruelty.
FACTS OF THE CASE:
The appellant in the present case is an army officer with MTech qualification and his wife who is respondent in the present case is a faculty in the Government P G College, Tehri with Ph.D. degree. They both got married on 27.9.2006 and then lived together for few months at Vishakhapatnam and at Ludhiana. But differences cropped up from the initial days of married life and since 15.9.2007, the couple have lived apart. The appellant had earlier filed for divorce in the family court of Vishakhapatnam and the respondent for the Restitution of Conjugal Rights in Dehradun court. In their divorce proceeding, the appellant pleaded that he was subjected to numerous malicious complaints by the respondent which have affected his career and loss of reputation, resulting in mental cruelty and on the other hand, the respondent in her case for restitution of conjugal rights contended that the husband without any reasonable cause had deserted her and then she pleaded for resumption of matrimonial life.
- Whether wife shall be entitled for restitution of conjugal rights?
- Whether wife conduct in this case results to mental cruelty?
CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES
- The appellant pleaded before the court that his wife has done several malicious complaints which have affected his career and damaged his reputation, resulting in mental cruelty.
- He cannot be compelled to resume his matrimonial life with the respondent, in the face of such unfounded allegations and cruel treatment.
- The respondent argued that she wrote letters and filed complaints only to assert her legal right as a married wife of the appellant and those communications should therefore be considered as efforts made by a wife to preserve her marital relationship.
- The respondent also in her case for restitution of conjugal rights contended that her husband without any reasonable cause had deserted her and also, she pleaded for direction to the appellant, for resumption of matrimonial life.
The court in the present case relied on the case Samar Ghosh Vs. Jaya Ghosh and stated that “For considering dissolution of marriage at the instance of a spouse who alleged mental cruelty, the result of such mental cruelty must be such that it’s not possible to continue with the matrimonial relationship. The wronged party cannot be expected to condone such conduct and continue to live with his/her spouse. The degree of tolerance will vary from one couple to another and the Court will have to bear in mind the background, the level of education, and also the status of the parties, in order to determine whether the cruelty alleged is sufficient to justify the dissolution of marriage, at the instance of the wronged party.”
The Supreme Court observed that the respondent in the present case tried to make several defamatory complaints to the appellant’s superiors in the Army for which, a Court of inquiry was held by the Army authorities against the appellant and which affected the career of the appellant. Hence, the Supreme Court dismissed the application of the respondent for restitution of conjugal rights and held their marriage dissolved.
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