Divorce must be granted if cruelty is proven: Allahabad HC - Hindustan Times
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Divorce must be granted if cruelty is proven: Allahabad HC

ByMANOJ KUMAR SINGH, Lucknow
Jun 11, 2024 06:08 AM IST

The court overturned a family court’s decision that dismissed a husband’s suit for divorce while allowing his wife’s suit for restitution of conjugal rights.

Dissolving a marriage, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court has ruled that once cruelty is proven, the suit for divorce must be decreed. The court overturned a family court’s decision that dismissed a husband’s suit for divorce while allowing his wife’s suit for restitution of conjugal rights, despite clear evidence of cruelty inflicted upon the husband by the wife during their marriage. With this order, the court dissolved the marriage between the husband and wife.

Allahabad high court (HT File)
Allahabad high court (HT File)

The judgment was recently passed by a division bench comprising Justices Rajan Roy and Om Prakash Shukla on two appeals challenging the family court’s judgment and order passed in the family matters of the couple. The court noted that the family court had acknowledged the cruelty inflicted on the husband; however, instead of granting the divorce, the family court had incongruously decreed in favor of the wife’s suit for the restitution of conjugal rights.

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The court oserved, “Instead of allowing the suit for divorce, it has decreed the suit of the respondent for restitution of conjugal rights, which is apparently incongruous and irreconcilable with the finding on the issue of cruelty recorded in the context of the suit for divorce in favor of the appellant/husband and against the wife.

The court highlighted that the finding of cruelty was a substantial reason for the husband not to continue living with the wife, which should have led the family court to grant the divorce and dismiss the wife’s suit for restitution of conjugal rights.

The couple got married on November 27, 1986, and two sons were born out of wedlock. The husband alleged that after the birth of their children, his wife began to behave cruelly towards him. The allegations included locking him in the toilet, making unfounded accusations of infidelity, abusing his parents in front of their children, and refusing to accompany the family on trips.

On April 28, 2012, the husband filed a suit for divorce. Following this, the wife filed multiple cases against him, including allegations of domestic violence and demands for maintenance. She also filed a suit for the restitution of conjugal rights.

The family court, after hearing both parties and reviewing the evidence, though partially upheld the husband’s claims of cruelty, did not find sufficient evidence of desertion. It ruled in favor of the wife, stating that the husband had withdrawn from her society without a valid reason.

As a result, the family court dismissed the husband’s divorce petition and decreed the restitution of conjugal rights in favor of the wife.

The husband appealed against the family court’s judgment before the high court. He submitted that once cruelty was established, the family court should have granted the divorce and dismissed the suit for restitution of conjugal rights.

The high court held that the finding of cruelty was not challenged by the wife. It found that the family court’s finding of cruelty against the husband was clear and categorical. Given this finding, the logical outcome should have been to grant the divorce, the high court held. The court said that if cruelty is proven, the spouse guilty of cruelty is not entitled to restitution of conjugal rights.

“In view of the above discussion, we have no hesitation in determining that once cruelty was proved, the suit for divorce had to be decreed and the suit of the wife had to be dismissed, subject of course to the provision of Section 13A of Act, 1955, but, the Family Court has erred on facts and law in not doing so,” the court observed, allowing the appeals.

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