A man having an extra-marital affair cannot walk away from his marriage citing cruelty by his wife, the Bombay high court (HC) held on Wednesday.
The HC struck down a January 2007 order of the family court, which granted divorce to a city resident on the grounds that his wife continuously disrespected, humiliated and threatened him and his family members.
The couple tied the knot in May 1993 according to Hindu Vedic rites and had a daughter a year later. But disputes arose between them and three years after the marriage, the man approached the family court for divorce.
The husband, who was employed with Air India, alleged his wife was quarrelsome, and disrespected him and his family members. Apart from doubting his character, she frequently threatened to commit suicide and get him and his family booked in criminal cases. The woman denied the charges and claimed the husband neglected her and her daughter.
After the family court accepted the grounds of cruelty and granted the husband a divorce, the woman challenged it in the high court. The judges found substance in her contention that the husband was maintaining an extra-marital affair. She pointed out he had bought a flat in Thane where he was staying with his mistress. She also produced documentary evidence showing a girl was born out of the affair.
The division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice Ajay Gadkari held the conduct of the husband disentitled him to divorce. “Such conduct of the respondent (husband) disentitles him to the relief of a decree of divorce,” the bench observed. “His conduct also reflects on the truthfulness of his testimony,” the judges said.
The court directed the husband to pay the woman and the daughter a monthly maintenance of Rs10,000 from September 2005 – when she had filed application for maintenance before the family court – and the expenditure incurred on their daughter’s education.
The court, however, rejected the woman’s plea for restitution of conjugal rights, primarily because the husband is staying with his mistress.