Mere acquittal in cruelty case no ground to grant divorce: Delhi HC

New Delhi, The Delhi High Court has held that mere acquittal of a person in a criminal case cannot be a ground for granting divorce and dismissed a man’s plea seeking a decree of divorce in his favour, claiming that his wife committed cruelty on him. A bench of justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna said the man’s acquittal in a criminal case in a trial court does not wash away the cruelty committed by him of being involved with another woman during the subsistence of his marriage with his estranged wife.

Marital bonds are delicate emotional human relationships and the involvement of any third person could result in a complete collapse of trust, faith and tranquillity. Any sort of influence by a third person can just be a silent destroyer of the bond, leading to prolonged irreconcilable differences,” the bench said.

It added that such relations eventually become a ticking time bomb, where feelings of anguish, despair, rejection and disappointment get trapped and post explosion, the shrapnel of these suppressed feelings causes injury to everyone involved, whether directly or indirectly.

The high court dismissed the man’s appeal and upheld the trial court’s order denying him divorce on the ground of cruelty.

According to the facts of the case, the couple got married in 1982 and had two children. They started living separately in 1994.

The man had claimed that his wife was disrespectful and had refused to take care of him and even assaulted him physically. He had alleged that his wife’s conduct had shattered his peace of mind and he was compelled to do all the household work, including cooking and taking care of the children, and sought divorce on the ground of cruelty.

However, the woman had claimed that her husband was involved in an illicit relationship with a much younger woman and when she came to know about it in 1993, differences cropped up between them.

She had further said because of this illegitimate affair, the man had started living in a separate room, ill-treating her and making her life miserable since December 1993.

The woman had also got a first information report (FIR) registered against her husband and his family members under sections 498A (cruelty) and 406 (criminal breach of trust) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

While the man’s family members were discharged in the case at the stage of framing of charges, he was acquitted in 2013.

The man had denied the allegation that he was involved in an illicit relationship but conceded that the other woman did come to live in his house as a governess to his children.

The court, however, described it as a “fantastic” and “absurd” explanation, and said this is a case where section 23(1)(a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, which provides that no person can take advantage of his own wrong, comes into play in full force.

“We, in the light of the blatant conduct of the appellant (husband) in showing scant regard to his matrimonial relationship, are compelled to observe that despite it being a failed marriage of over 40 years, granting divorce would be adding a premium to the wrong acts of the appellant.

“While human emotions know no bounds and rules, but definitely, the human sensibilities emanating from the mind should have prevailed for an educated person like the appellant to have reigned his affections for a third person, with scant regard for the respondent who had reposed complete faith by entering into the vows of marriage with him,” the bench said.

“We hereby conclude that the additional district judge had rightly concluded that it was the appellant (husband) who was responsible for acts of cruelty towards the respondent (wife) and rejected the divorce petition,” it added.

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