Interpreting cruelty in divorce cases, the Bombay High Court has delivered a significant ruling that if a wife, who has been asked to sleep in a separate room by her husband, suspects about him having an extramarital affair and inquires about the same, it cannot be termed as mental cruelty.
"...When a wife contends that the husband had abandoned physical relationship, it was natural for her to inquire about, whether he had any other woman in life. We are therefore inclined to accept that the inquiry made by wife would not amount to mental cruelty," Justice B H Marlapalle and Justice S J Vajifdar observed recently.
The court was hearing an appeal filed by Suyog Dahiwadkar, a 35-year-old Pune-based jeweller, challenging an order passed by a family court rejecting his divorce petition on the grounds of cruelty.
The couple had an arranged marriage in December 1997. The husband had sought divorce in July 2001, after the wife left matrimonial home in April 2001, following a quarrel.
The family court, in April 2004, had rejected Suyog's divorce petition which alleged that respondent (wife) Mohini, 33, did not tell her correct age at the time of wedding.
"She was born in 1969, but we were told she is 1970 born," the petitioner alleged.
The petitioner claimed his wife had also not given her horoscope before wedding and that she was into performing black magic.
The divorce was sought on the grounds of cruelty under Section 13(i) (ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act. "My wife has a quarrelsome nature. She used to misbehave with my family members. She had ill-motives against my elder brother and she had also inquired with my cousin, whether I was carrying on with other woman," stated his petition.
Wife, on the other hand, had replied that her husband was an alcoholic and used to beat her mercilessly under the influence of liquor.
"On January 31, 2001, my husband came home late night and beat me up mercilessly under the influence of liquor. On March 23, 2001, I was suddenly told by him not to sleep with him in our bedroom. I was told to sleep separately in the hall," she told the court.
As the wife had shown willingness to go back to her husband, the High Court refused to accept Suyog's argument that their marriage has been irretrievably broken.
The court also enhanced the maintenance granted to his wife from Rs 3,000 to Rs 10,000 a month, considering that Suyog was into 145-year-old family business earning jointly with other members an annual income of Rs 40 lakh to Rs 50 lakh.