Cruelty as a Reason to Divorce

Matrimonial issues involve sensitive human and emotional relationships. It necessitates reciprocal respect, esteem, love, and affection, as well as enough room for fair modifications with the spouse. In addition, the partnership must adhere to social conventions. Matrimonial behaviour is now governed by a statute that was drafted with such norms and the changing social order in mind.

With some exclusions, divorce refers to the legal breakup or dissolution of marriage so that one can leave his or her spouse and be free of marital obligations.

What Constitutes Cruelty:

Not all spousal behaviors that annoy the other qualify as cruelty. Simple irritations and quarrels between spouses that occur in everyday marital life may not be considered cruelty. Cruelty in marriage can come in a variety of forms, from subtle to severe. It can be expressed by words, gestures, or silence, and it can be aggressive or nonviolent.

To be considered cruel, the alleged behaviour must be “grave and serious,” leading to the judgment that the petitioner’s spouse cannot fairly be expected to live with the other spouse. Something more serious than “normal wear and tear of married life” must be involved. To determine whether the conduct complained of amounts to cruelty under marriage law, the conduct must be assessed in light of the circumstances and background. As previously said, conduct must be evaluated against a backdrop of various criteria, including the parties’ social status, education, physical and mental health, and norms and traditions. It’s difficult to give a clear definition of cruelty or a thorough description of the circumstances that would qualify as such. It must be of the category to satisfy the Court’s sense of morality that the parties’ connection had deteriorated to the point where it would be impossible for them to live together without mental agony, torture, or distress due to the other spouse’s conduct, allowing the complaining spouse to obtain a divorce. Physical violence is not required to be cruel, and a pattern of behaviour inflicting unimaginable mental suffering and anguish may well be considered cruel. Mental cruelty can take the form of verbal abuse and insults delivered through filthy and harsh language, causing the other party’s mental tranquilly to be constantly disturbed.


Hindu marriage is a holy sacrament in the life of a Hindu, along with other sacraments that are recognised to be vital for the entire life. Marriage is a legal way for a man and a woman to live together and carry out their responsibilities, and husband and wife are regarded one in law. The Indian Divorce Act was passed in 1869, but it did not apply to Hindus, therefore after independence on May 18, 1955, the Hindu Marriage Act was passed, which regulates all topics and situations pertaining to Hindu marriages.

Legal Provisions:

Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act-1955 states: “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 treated the petitioner with cruelty after the solemnization of the marriage.”

On the basis of this section, we can describe the legal foundation for divorce as follows: anyone who is subjected to physical or mental abuse by the other party, or any other sort of harassing, can bring a claim for divorce to the court using this basis. In addition, courts have found in a number of cases that the desire to be cruel is not an essential part of cruelty as defined by this provision.

Cruelty In The Eyes Of The Court: The courts identify numerous grounds for claim on the basis of cruelty and varieties of cruelty in their various judgments, and the courts give legal support for the victim in this regard. Within the extent of cruelty under section 13(1)(ia), they have provided the following explanation:

  • It is necessary if the cruelty is of such a kind that it makes it difficult for spouses to cohabit.
  • The levelling of a false accusation by one spouse about the other’s supposed illegal relationships with various people outside of the marriage amounted to mental abuse.
  • A husband should not tell his wife that he does not enjoy her companionship, but she can and should remain in the marriage house with certain other family members. Such an attitude on the husband’s behalf is harsh in and of itself.
  • Social abuse by one of the spouses to the other has been found to be as harsh as mental abuse.
  • Cruelty might be easily proven if the character of the conduct or harsh act complained of could be inferred to have the aim to damage, torment, or wound. However, in this circumstance, the lack of intent should make no difference. The severe behavior could also be a result of the parties’ cultural differences.
  • When one spouse alleges that the petitioner is a mental patient or that he requires expert psychological care to regain his mental health, the other spouse is committing mental cruelty.


Based on these various points, we can conclude that there was no such law in Hindu society in the past that governed the issue of divorce, but that with the implementation of the Hindu Marriage Act-1955, this void was filled with proper directions and the law is now very well handling these matters with the help of the courts.

There are various legal grounds for divorce, but since we’re primarily concerned with cruelty, we’ve seen how the courts have interpreted cruelty within the confines of the law according to the circumstances.

When we look at the definition of section 13 (1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act-1955, we see that cruelty does not have to be limited to physical injury. In the case of Naveen Kohli, the court held that while physical violence is not required to constitute cruelty, a pattern of behaviour inflicting immeasurable mental agony and torture may do so, and in the case of Yudhishthir Singh, the court said that a husband cannot tell his parent that he doesn’t really like her company and that she can or should stay with some other family members in the marital home, such behaviours is cruelty in and of itself. It refers to the method through which a court can use its discretionary power to decide on a case of cruelty.

Finally, we may conclude that anybody can petition the court for a divorce based on cruelty, but the case will be judged only on the circumstances of the case; the court may extend or summaries the definition of cruelty based on their own interpretation, but only within the legal boundaries.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.


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In the year 2021, we wrote about 1000 Inspirational Women In India, in the year 2022, we would be featuring 5000 Start Up Stories.

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