The Punjab and Haryana High Court recently accepted a divorce petition filed by a man after he ruled that the wife’s act in filing false and frivolous claims against her husband constituted cruelty.
However, considering the wife’s requirements, Judges Ritu Bahri and Judge Nidhi Gupta continued to award permanent alimony of Rs. 10 lakh to the wife as a full and final settlement of all disputes between the parties.
“Prior to the separation, we determined that the respondent wife’s actions amounted to cruelty to the complaining husband, but we are unaware of her demands. It has come to light that the complaining wife paid provisional maintenance under Section 125 CRPC at Rs.2500/- per month and Rs.3000 per month was awarded by the Court of First Instance under Section 24 of the HMA. In the circumstances we believe it is fair , ordering that the husband shall pay the wife a sum of INR 10,00,000/- (only ten lakhs rupees) as one-off permanent maintenance as a full and final settlement of all disputes between the parties,” the court ordered (emphasis added).
The case in brief
The husband/appellant petitioned the Family Court under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 to seek the dissolution of his marriage to the defendant/wife on the grounds of cruelty. The same was dismissed by Additional District Judge Tarn Taran in May 2017. He challenged this and went to the High Court.
He stated that he married the defendant/wife in 2009-2010. No child was born from their marriage and from the start his wife did not want to live with their parents in the marital house and live separately.
He further argued that his wife was not fulfilling her marital duties and that she quarreled over trifles and insulted his parents and that she had a “poisonous tongue”. She even threatened to implicate the applicant and his family members in a case of false dowry.
It was also stated that the accused’s father took her away in October 2013 and she took all her belongings and gold jewelry and never came back. She then filed a lawsuit against him and his family members under Sections 406, 498-A, and 120-B IPC, all of which were later acquitted.
On the other hand, the wife claimed to have been abused and beaten by her in-laws for other dowry items and when she was left with no choice but to register the above FIR against her, she filed a lawsuit against her. She further stated that she was kicked out of the marital home in October 2013.
High Court Observations
At the outset, the court noted that the applicant’s husband and his family members had been acquitted of the proceedings brought against them by the applicant’s wife. The court also noted that the trial court had made very categorical findings that the wife had failed to prove her case.
In view of this, the Court further stated:
“In our view, a criminal proceeding initiated between the parties leads to a point of no return. And when it is a bogus case, filed by the wife with the sole intention of harassing and humiliating the husband and his family, the resulting bitterness rarely leaves any room or cause for reconciliation.”
In addition, the Court noted landmark Supreme Court decisions that found that a false complaint by a wife against her spouse constitutes cruelty and is a sufficient ground for divorce.
Therefore, the court found that the wife’s action constituted cruelty, noting that the parties have been living apart since October 2013 and their behavior of the parties proves that there are irreconcilable differences between them, making the marriage a pure legal fiction. Consequently, the appeal was allowed.
Case title – Joginder Singh v. Rajwinder Kaur [FAO-M-12 of 2017(O&M)]
Case citation: 2022 LiveLaw (PH) 279
Click here to read/download the order