Making unsubstantiated allegations against your spouse is an assault on his or her character and reputation, and reason enough to seek a divorce for mental cruelty, the Bombay high court has ruled.
A division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice Gautam Patel made these remarks recently while dissolving the marriage of a couple from Pune.
“We have no manner of doubt that unsubstantiated allegations made by the respondent wife amount to an assault on the character and reputation of the appellant [husband] and the same constitutes mental cruelty that entitles the appellant to claim a decree of divorce,” the bench said.
The couple had married in March 2001, but the marriage started to break up after the woman accused her husband of having an affair.
She also threatened to commit suicide if forced into a physical relationship with him.
The 37-year- old man first sought the help of his wife’s relatives, and ultimately moved the family court seeking divorce.
After the family court in Pune dismissed his petition in July 2003, he approached the high court.
The petitioner’s counsel argued that the woman had repeatedly accused her husband of having an affair, thereby making persistent, unsubstantiated and serious allegations. Counsel argued that this amounted to mental cruelty.
The bench went through the records and observed that though the woman had reiterated the allegations before the family court, she had not substantiated them.
Furthermore, her cross-examination showed she harboured suspicions about her husband’s character.
“A specific case is made out by the appellant [husband] that such allegations, which were repeatedly made by the respondent [wife], amount to causing mental cruelty to him,” the judges observed.
The judges held that the husband was entitled to a divorce under Clause (ia) of Subsection (1) of Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and dissolved the marriage.