The Allahabad High Court has observed that if small disputes in a marriage are viewed as "cruelty" by courts under divorce law, then many marriages would risk being dissolved even if there is no actual cruelty by either spouse.
The observation was made by a two-judge bench comprising Justice Saumitra Dayal Singh and Justice Shiv Shanker Prasad while directing the judicial separation of an estranged couple instead of directly allowing a plea for divorce.
“If courts were to recognize and act on small disputes or occurrences and read them as completion of ingredients of cruelty, many marriages where parties may not be enjoying best relations, may stand exposed to dissolution without any real cruelty being committed,” the court observed.
The bench was hearing a divorce plea by Rohit Chaturvedi challenging the order dated March 17, 2020 passed by the additional principal judge (family court), Ghaziabad.
The Ghaziabad court had dismissed the divorce case under section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The husband sought divorce from the family court citing cruelty by his wife. The couple had married in 2013.
The present first appeal before the high court was filed under section 19 of the Family Court Act, 1984.
The husband submitted that his wife Neha Chaturvedi refused to consummate their marriage, fought with his parents and once instigated a mob to chase him by calling him a thief. She also allegedly filed a dowry case against him.
He further submitted that they lived together till July 2014 but did not cohabit thereafter,
The wife, meanwhile, accused the husband of having an illicit relationship with his sister-in-law. After the family court declined to allow the husband's plea for divorce, he moved an appeal before the high court.
The high court said that considering minor incidents and disputes as "cruelty" could lead to the dissolution of many marriages. In order to constitute marital cruelty, the act has to be serious enough to hinder any efforts of reconciliation.
The court also noted that the wife had only alleged that her husband was having an affair because he slept in the same room as his sister-in-law and her children. Inferring an illicit relationship on the basis of this aspect alone would not be justified, the court said.
The bench also noted that there were serious disputes between the warring spouses, that their marriage was never consummated and that there was little scope for their reconciliation. Hence, the court proceeded to allow the parities to separate, instead of dissolving the marriage at the present stage.
Consequently, the court granted a decree of judicial separation to the appellant-husband.
-With PTI Input