Suicide Threats a Ground for Divorce

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8402 OF 2011 (Arising out of S.L.P. (Civil) No. 29641 of 2009)

Pankaj Mahajan …. Appellant(s)
Versus
Dimple @ Kajal …. Respondent(s)

J U D G M E N T
P.Sathasivam,J.

1) Leave granted.

2) This appeal is directed against the final judgment and order dated 06.08.2009 passed by the High Court of Punjab & Haryana at Chandigarh in FAO No. M-123 of 2006 whereby the High Court allowed the appeal filed by the respondent herein and set aside the judgment and decree dated 29.04.2006 passed by the Additional District Judge(Ad-hoc)-cum-Presiding Officer, Fast Track Court, Ropar filed under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (in short ‘the Act’).

3) Brief facts:
(a) The marriage of Pankaj Mahajan-appellant husband and Dimple @ Kajal, respondent-wife, was solemnized on 02.10.2000 at Amritsar. After the marriage, the parties cohabited and resided together as husband and wife at Amritsar in the parents’ house of the appellant-husband, but later on shifted to a rented house in Tilak Nagar, Shivala Road, Amritsar. On 11.07.2001, a female child was born, who is now in the custody of the respondent-wife.
(b) After the marriage, the appellant-husband found that the respondent-wife was acting in very abnormal manner, as she used to abruptly get very aggressive, hostile and suspicious in nature. In a fit of anger, she used to give threats that she would bring an end to her life by committing suicide and involve the appellant-husband and his family members in a criminal case, unless she was provided a separate residence.
On one occasion, she attempted to commit suicide by jumping from the terrace but was saved because of timely intervention of the appellant-husband.
(c) Succumbing to the pressure of the respondent-wife, the appellant-husband shifted to a rented house on 28.11.2001 at a monthly rent of Rs.3,200/- and started living with her, but the behaviour of the respondent-wife became more aggressive and she repeated threats of suicide even in the rented house.
On enquiry, the appellant-husband came to know that the respondent-wife was suffering from acute mental depression coupled with schizophrenia even prior to the marriage and was taking treatment for the same. The appellant-husband hoping that the respondent-wife would become alright took her to various doctors, but her mental condition did not improve and she became more and more violent and aggressive. She insulted and humiliated the appellant-husband in front of his colleagues and relatives several times and even on one occasion she pushed the appellant-husband from the staircase causing fracture in his right forearm.
(d) On 23.03.2002, the appellant-husband wrote a letter to his mother-in-law stating therein that the respondent-wife was repeatedly threatening to commit suicide and even on 19.04.2002, he wrote a letter to the SSP, Amritsar regarding the factum of repeated threats to commit suicide given by the respondent-wife. On 24.05.2002, the appellant-husband filed a petition under Section 13 of the Act in the District Court at Amritsar for dissolution of marriage by a decree of divorce. By order dated 29.04.2006, the Additional District Judge, Ropar,granted a decree of divorce in favour of the appellant-husband.
(e) Being aggrieved by the above-said order, the respondentwife filed FAO No. M-123 of 2006 before the High Court of Punjab & Haryana at Chandigarh. The High Court, by order dated 06.08.2009, allowed the appeal filed by the respondentwife and set aside the judgment and decree dated 29.04.2006 passed by the Additional District Judge(Ad-hoc)-cum-Presiding Officer, Fast Track Court, Ropar. Aggrieved by the said decision, the appellant-husband has preferred this appeal before this Court by way of special leave petition.

4) Heard Mr. Nidhesh Gupta, learned senior counsel for the appellant-husband and Mr. B.K. Satija, learned counsel for the respondent-wife.

Discussion:

5) It is not in dispute that the petition for dissolution of marriage for granting a decree of divorce under Section 13 of the Act came to be filed by the appellant-husband before the District Court at Amritsar. The marriage was solemnized between the parties at Amritsar on 02.10.2000. Since the case of the appellant-husband as well as the respondent-wife has already been narrated, there is no need to traverse the same once again. The fact remains that it was the appellanthusband who approached the court for a decree of divorce on the grounds of ‘cruelty’ and ‘unsound mind’ of the respondent wife which is incurable, hence we have to see whether the appellant-husband has made out a case for divorce on these grounds.

6) Section 13 of the Act, which is useful for our present purpose, reads as under:-
“13. Divorce (1) Any marriage solemnised, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, may, on a petition presented by either the husband or the wife, be dissolved by a decree of divorce on the ground that the other party—
(i) xxx
(i-a) has, after the solemnisation of the marriage, treated the petitioner with cruelty; or
(ib) xxx
(ii) xxx
(iii) has been incurably of unsound mind, or has been suffering continuously or intermittently from mental disorder of such a kind and to such an extent that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent.
Explanation .—In this clause,—
(a) the expression “mental disorder” means mental illness,arrested or incomplete development of mind, psychopathic disorder or any other disorder or disability of mind and includes schizophrenia;…..”
Section 13 specifies the grounds on which a decree of divorce may be obtained by either party to the marriage. The onus of proving that the other spouse is incurably of unsound mind or is suffering from mental disorder lies on the party alleging it.
It must be proved by cogent and clear evidence.

7) In the case on hand, since the appellant-husband has approached the District Court for a decree of divorce, the onus is on him to prove the grounds put-forth by him. As regards the ground alleged by the appellant-husband for a decree of divorce i.e. the respondent-wife is suffering from unsound mind/mental disorder/schizophrenia, apart from his own evidence as PW-4, various Doctors, who treated her and other witnesses were also examined. From the side of the appellanthusband,Dr. Paramjit Singh (PW-1), Dr. Ravinder Mohan Sharma (PW-2), Dr. Virendra Mohan (PW-3) and Dr. Gurpreet Inder Singh Miglani (PW-7), who had given treatment to the respondent-wife for mental disorder, were examined.

8) Dr. Paramjit Singh (PW-1), Professor and Head Psychiatry Department, Medical College, Amritsar in his evidence stated as follows:-
“The respondent remained admitted in my Department at
Amritsar from 17.12.2001 to 28.12.2001. This disease is
Bipolar Affective Disorder. I treated her during this period.
She was admitted in Emergency because her disease was in
quite serious stage. In this disease, the patient can commit
suicide. When she came, she was aggressive and irritable. If
the proper treatment is not given to the respondent then her
aggressive nature can be prolonged. The respondent Kajal
was treated by me by giving electric shock for four times
during her stay in the ward M.R.I. i.e. Magnetic Resonance
Imaging. MRI has got no concern with the disease with
which the respondent was suffering. This disease is
treatable but not curable. I have seen the certificate issued
by me which is Ex.P1. It bears my signatures and is correct
Ex. P2 i.e. Discharge Certificate. I have brought the original
record of the Department concerning the respondent both indoor
as well as out-door. A certified copy of the same
attested by me is Ex. P3. These are correct according to the
original record brought by me today in the court. The
respondent was brought to the Hospital for her admission
and treatment by Sh. S.K. Mahajan son of later Sh. Gian
Chand and Pankaj Mahajan. I have seen the receipts today
in the court which relate to our hospital and the same are
Ex. P4 to Ex. P7 and Ex. P8 is the receipt regarding room
rent of our Hospital. On 08.10.2002, father of the
respondent had brought her to our hospital and she was
treated by me as well as other doctors of department of our
hospital from 08.10.2002. After the discharge from the
Hospital, the respondent was brought to our hospital for
treatment by her father on 22.01.2002, 02.02.2002,
09.02.2002, 15.04.2002, 08.08.2002, 08.10.2002,
21.11.2002, 05.02.2003 and 20.06.2003.”
(Emphasis supplied)

In cross-examination, he admitted that when the respondentwife
was discharged from the hospital, she was not perfectly
alright, however, she was able to return home. He further
admitted that in the original record of Ex. P3 some entries
were made by him and some by junior doctors, who worked
with him. All the entries made therein are correct. He also
stated that during the treatment, he did not notice abnormal
behaviour of the respondent-wife.

9) Dr. Ravinder Mohan Sharma (PW-2), Senior Medical
Officer, Punjab Mental Hospital, Amritsar, stated as under:
“According to file No. 57914 the patient was examined in the
out door by Dr. Charu Chawla, Senior Resident whose
handwriting I identified as she has been working with me.
After examining the patient and recording the history, she
has diagnosed her to be a case of Bipolar Affective Disorder
with which I agreed and advised her treatment in my own
hand. There is another entry dated 16.01.2002 again in my
own hand where I had advised her treatment. The second
file No. 58803 is in the hand of Dr. Purnima Singh, who after
examining presented the case to Dr. Manjit Singh who made
a diagnosis of depressive episode and advised her medical
treatment dated 21.02.2002. I identified the handwriting of
Dr. Purnima Singh and Dr. Manjit Singh as I had been
working with them. I have seen the original outdoor ticket of
respondent and the same are Ex. P11 and Ex. P12. As per
the history recorded in file No. 58803, there is a mention of
suicide ideas and threats and it is recorded that she had
attempted suicide once. As per the record, hers is a history
of abusive and irritable behaviour. On 16.01.2002 she was
advised injection by me because she was irritable and
restless. It is not a simple yes or no answer to the question
whether the disease is curable or not. It is an episodic
illness which patient getting episodes of mental illness and
with treatment in between she can remain normal. The
intensity and frequency of these episodes is highly
unpredictable and varies from patient to patient. Generally,
the frequency increases with every episode. The disease of
the respondent is treatable but cannot be definitely say
curable. MRI has got nothing to do with this disease of
respondent.” (Emphasis supplied)
In cross-examination, he reaffirmed what he had stated in examination-in-chief.

10) Dr. Virendra Mohan (PW-3), M.D. Psychiatry,
Dharampur, District Solan, H.P. stated as follows:-
“Patient Dimple, aged 23 years, female (single) d/o Shri Prem
Kumar, village Shivaji Nagar, House No. 810/11 Ludhiana
was admitted on 22.05.1998 and discharged on 06.06.1998.
She was suffereing from mental disorder at that time. She
was diagnosed as Chronic Paramoid Schizophrenia for the
last four years. She got admitted by her father Shri Prem
Kumar, and the history of the patient was described to me. I
have recorded the history as told by her father. He told that
she was having mental symptoms for the last 4 to 5 years.
The sleep was less. She was having acute psychotic
symptoms at the time of admission. I have mentioned the
history of the patient in the register which I have brought
today, and the attested true copy of the same is Ex.PW3/As
she was admitted in-door because she showed acute mental
symptoms. She had paranoid symptoms. She was suicidal
and also she could harm herself and others. The patient
was restless and she could harm and attack others as well,
and could cause injury. It has been recorded in the history
of the patient that her Nana had been suffering from the
mental disease. There was no test for diagnosing this
disease from which the respondent was suffering. Only the
history tells about the earlier condition of the patient. I
cannot say if the disease for which the respondent was
suffering is definitely curable or not. This disease is known
for relapses. There is no direct relationship in the stress or
strain with the disease. This disease is not related to nose or
throat. There can be no finding in MRI regarding this kind of
disease. There may be suicidal tendency of such type of
person suffering from this disease. The respondent was
admitted in the hospital due to abnormal behaviour. I had
observed that she passed stool in her cloth, she has visual
hallucination. During her admission, she also stated that
she wanted to marry her cousin and she was also laughing
herself. She was admitted twice in my mental Hospital at
Dharampur. I got signatures of father of the respondent in
my register, whenever she got admitted by her father in my
hospital and the register bears the signatures of her father.
Second time, she was admitted by her father Prem Kumar on
28.09.1999 and was discharged on 05.10.1999. That time
she was more excited and more elated and at that time the
diagnosis was quarry mania. This time she did not have any
paranoid symptoms. Her address was recorded this time
810/11 Shivaji Nagar, Ludhiana. Usually, if patient remains
symptoms free for two years they can get married, but other
partner should know the problem so that the treatment
should be continued.”
(Emphasis supplied)
In cross-examination, PW-3 stated that during the treatment
in his hospital, the respondent-wife responded very well to the
treatment. No suicidal action was taken by her during the
treatment in his hospital for the second time. He also stated
that if the patient remained symptoms free then she is
manageable. According to him, as per the records, the
respondent-wife was manageable.

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11) Dr. Gurpreet Inder Singh Miglani (PW-7), Associate
Professor and Incharge, Department of Psychiatry, Guru Ram
Dass Medical Hospital, Amritsar stated as under:-
“I remained posted in Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib Charitable
Hospital at Ludhiana from 1995 to 1998. I was working
there as Consultant for Psychiatry. I have seen the original
file produced in the Court today relating to Dimple d/o Prem
Kumar r/o Shastri Nagar, H.No. 257-A Ludhiana. Dimple
was got admitted in our Hospital on 15.06.1996 at 06:50
a.m. by her father Prem Kumar in the Emergency Ward. She
was suffering from a very violent behaviour and she has to
be given Electric Convulsive Therapy (ECT) on the same day
in the operation theater. Subsequently also five ECTs were
given as her violence was not being controlled along with
other anti psychotic drugs. A diagnosis of F 2004 was made
according to ICD 10 at the time of discharge on 15.07.1996.
She was labeled as suffering from Paranoid Schizophrenia
with incomplete remission and discharged on stable
condition. Due consent for ECTs in operation theater under
general anesthesia were taken from the father of the patient.”
(Emphasis supplied)
In cross-examination, he has stated that he cannot say exactly
about the disease of the respondent-wife whether it can be
treatable or not at this stage. He further stated that the
disease of the respondent can be cured or it can aggravate
after a lapse of time.

12) It is relevant to point out that the documents produced
from the side of the respondent-wife, particularly, medical
report issued by Dr. Harjeet Singh, Consultant Psychiatrist,RW-4 shows as:
“Impression: Bipolar Affective (Mood) Disorder, currently in remission.”
“Advice: marital therapy for the couple. Follow up as and when required.”
The said Report has been marked as Annexure R10. A fair
typed copy of relevant extract of Ex. P3 shows that “Mood
according to patient is euthenics.” The Annexure along with
the counter affidavit of the respondent-wife filed in this Court,
particularly, Certificate issued by the Doctor refers “suicide
threats made by her on some occasions”.

13) The appellant-husband was examined as PW-4.
According to him, the marriage with respondent-wife was
solemnized on 02.10.2000 and it was an arranged marriage.
After marriage, both of them went to Vaishno Devi, however, in
the meanwhile he noticed some strange facial expressions and
behaviour of his wife-Dimple. He subsequently came to know
that she was suffering from some serious disease. She used to
become annoyed and angry on petty issues, abuse and fight
with him, flaunt her father’s status and influence, comb her
hair throughout the day, cry like children, apply brakes of a
moving vehicle, call strangers in the house and offer them tea.
Even once she called a washerman in the house and gave him
Rs. 200/- unnecessarily and when he said ‘thanks’ she
immediately snatched the money from his hands and slapped
him for no reason and, thereafter, she abused him and pushed
him out of the house. According to him, such things had
become her everyday chores. She used to wake up very late in
the morning. Whenever his mother and sister called her to
join them, she started abusing and insulting them. She used
to call his mother stupid and his sister as wretched. One day,
when his friend Sumit came to their house, she insulted him
when he was sitting in the drawing room on the ground floor
and when the appellant-husband was coming down to join
him, she pushed him from stairs and started laughing, as a
result, he fell down and got fractured. She was in the habit of
listening to phone calls of Madan Lal, the landlord (PW-5) and
used to abuse his relatives over phone. One day, when the
landlord (PW-5) told them that he is fed up with the appellant
and his family and asked to leave the house immediately
thereupon, the respondent-Dimple slapped him on his face for
which he had to apologise him for her acts. Even, one day,
she threw the infant child towards him.

14) In order to show that his marriage was an arranged one
he explained that he knows the father of the respondent-wife
prior to the marriage as he was his Boss in Life Insurance
Corporation office, Amritsar Division. He worked under him
for a period of 6-8 months. He further explained that the
behaviour of the respondent-wife came to his notice after 1½
months’ after their marriage and he immediately disclosed this
fact to her father. The treatment was given to the respondentwife
for the first time on 06.09.2001 for her abnormal behaviour.

15) Another important witness examined on the side of the
appellant-husband is Madan Lal (PW-5), the landlord, who
rented his house to them. In his evidence, PW-5 deposed that
he is resident of H.No. 62, Tilak Nagar, Amritsar and his wife
is also residing with him. He rented out a portion of the
building to the appellant-husband and respondent-wife which
was on the first floor. He and his wife were residing on the
ground floor. According to PW-5, the respondent-wife usually
remained sitting in the portion of his house during the day
time where he is residing with his family unless and until the
appellant-husband return home. She used to sit with his
daughter and daughter-in-law and remained talking with
them. She also quarrels with his wife and daughter due to the
use of telephone. He explained that his daughter-in-law told
him that the respondent-wife often threatens to commit
suicide. The High Court, without looking into the evidence of
Madan Lal (PW-5), erroneously concluded that his evidence
was of no help. On the other hand, PW-5 has specifically
narrated the behaviour of the respondent with his wife,
daughter-in-law and the agony he himself had undergone and
highlighted all those details in the Court.

16) Apart from the above oral evidence, the appellanthusband
has also pressed into service a copy of an affidavit of
the respondent-wife i.e. Annexure-R3. In the said affidavit,
the respondent-wife has stated that she threatened to commit
suicide so many times to her in-laws and she even tried to
commit suicide by way of jumping from the roof of the house
on the intervening night of 19-20.09.2001 but could not
succeed due to timely intervention of her husband. She also
stated that she realized that her attempt to commit suicide
was at the instance of her parents and now she is repentant
for her actions for threatening to commit suicide and apologise
for the same with the assurance not to repeat such type of actions in future.

17) Though the trial Court accepted the claim of cruelty, the
High Court reversed the said conclusion and completely
rejected the claim of divorce even under unsound mind. In the
impugned judgment, though the High Court has adverted to
the evidence of four doctors, without proper appreciation,
arrived at an erroneous conclusion that mere evidence of
mental illness is not sufficient to seek decree for divorce. In
spite of abundant materials, unfortunately, the High Court
has erroneously concluded that only wordings of Section
13(1)(iii) of the Act were merely reproduced without adverting
to the facts of the case. According to the High Court,
necessary materials were not pleaded. We are unable to
accept the said conclusion. Without proper discussion and
adequate reasons, the High Court rejected the evidence of the
appellant-husband as PW-4. A perusal of his evidence clearly
show the agony and treatment meted out immediately after the
marriage due to mental disorder/unsound mind of the
respondent-wife.

18) From the materials placed on record, we are satisfied that
the appellant-husband has brought cogent materials on record
to show that the respondent-wife is suffering from mental
disorder, i.e., Schizophrenia. From the side of the appellanthusband,
various doctors and other witnesses were examined
to prove that the respondent-wife was suffering from mental
disorder. We have already extensively quoted the statements
of Dr. Paramjit Singh (PW-1), Dr. Ravinder Mohan Sharma
(PW-2), Dr. Virendra Mohan (PW-3) and Dr. Gurpreet Inder
Singh Miglani (PW-7) – all the four doctors/Psychiatrists who
treated the respondent-wife, prescribed medicines and also
expressed the view that it is “incurable”. Even the respondentwife
and her father themselves admitted in their crossexamination
that the respondent had taken treatment from
the said Doctors for mental illness. Thus, it is proved beyond
doubt that the respondent-wife is suffering from mental
disorder/Schizophrenia and it is not reasonably expected to
live with her and the appellant-husband has made out a case
for a decree of divorce and the decree should have been
granted in favour of the appellant-husband and against the respondent-wife.

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19) The High Court, by impugned order, negatived the plea of
the appellant-husband under Section 13(1)(iii) of the Act on
the ground that the appellant-husband has merely reproduced
the wordings of the Section without applying the same to the
facts of the case and that it was not pleaded that it was a case
of continuous or intermittent disorder. The aforesaid
reasoning of the High Court is completely erroneous and
contrary to the material on record which we have already demonstrated.

20) Coming to the pleadings before the High Court, the
appellant-husband had specifically pleaded that the
respondent-wife was suffering from Schizophrenia, which is a
kind of mental disorder and he had pointed out specific
incidents to show that the respondent-wife was not of sound
mind. The relevant portion of the petition for divorce filed by
the appellant is reproduced hereunder:
“4. That the petitioner shortly after his marriage found the
respondent to be acting in a very abnormal manner. She
would abruptly get very aggressive, hostile and suspicious in
nature, ought to hit any body available in her company and
her suspicion would go to such an extent that she should
not like to take food without some other member of the
family consuming the same. The respondent would also in a
fit of anger declare that she will bring an end to her life by
committing suicide and would have the petitioner and all the
family members involved in a false criminal case unless she
was provided with separate place of residence…….Enquiries
made in the meantime revealed that the respondent has
been suffering from acute mental depression coupled with
Schizophrenia, a mental disorder and illness at intervals
with Psychopathic disorder since developed into mania,
which prompted her to become more and more violent and
aggressive and on one such occasion she repeated threat of
suicide and attempted jumping from the house of her in-laws
on 19/20.09.2001 but could not succeed in her attempt due
to timely intervention of her husband, who is the petitioner…
……All the same hoping that treatment may cure the
respondent she was got treated by the petitioner and her
parents from various places in connection with her mental
illness but such treatment provided to her including
administering her electric shocks, did not improve the state
of affairs. She was so treated as indoor and outdoor patient
in Shri Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, Amritsar in Psychiatric
Department in Dr. Vidya Sagar Mental Health Institute and
in Bhatti Neuro Psychiatric Hospital till the end of the year
2001 but all the intensive and costly treatment did not yield
fruit and she could not be cured of her mental sickness. The
respondent is, therefore, suffering from major mental
disorder in which she has suicidal tendency and becomes
aggressive and violent in her behaviour for which she was
getting treatment, as referred above, before as well as after
the marriage. She has been given anti-psychic treatment
and even electric therapy at four occasions at least to the
knowledge of the petitioner but the things did not improve
therewith. The respondent has, therefore, been suffering
incurably from unsoundness of mind and has been so
suffering continuously or intermittently from mental disorder
of such a kind and such an extent that the petitioner cannot
reasonably be expected to live with the respondent.
5. That on one such occasion under the fit of insanity the
respondent pushed the petitioner from the staircase leading
to their residential portion causing the petitioner fracture of
right hand for which he got treatment from, Dr. Hardas
Singh Sandhu in the last week of November, 2001. Such
aggressiveness was not first of its kind and in the past also
the respondent under the fit of insanity ventured to slap the
petitioner in his face in the presence of his parents…..”
The above averments make it clear that the appellanthusband,
after narrating specific incidents of abnormal
behaviour of the respondent-wife had duly pleaded that she
was suffering continuously/intermittently from ‘incurable’
mental disorder of such a nature that he cannot be reasonably
expected to live with her. It was also stated therein that due
to her unsoundness, the respondent-wife was not able to lead
a married life and thus the appellant-husband was entitled to
a decree of divorce. Apart from this, the appellant-husband
had brought cogent evidence on record to show that the
respondent-wife was not in a fit state of mind whereas the
respondent-wife could not lead any acceptable evidence to
rebut the same. We have already pointed out that the
respondent and her father admitted her mental illness and
periodic treatment from the doctors mentioned above. No
doubt, it was pointed out that after the marriage, the couple
was blessed with a female child and at present she is studying
in a school and there is no dispute about the same. It is clear
from the respondent’s evidence that from the date of delivery
of child, the child was periodically taken care of by her grandparents.
It is also relevant to note that whenever the child was
with respondent-wife, she (the mother) was not taking
appropriate care which is clear from the evidence of the
appellant-husband (PW-4) and their landlord, Madan Lal
(PW-5). One incident which was referred to was that many a
times the respondent-wife casually threw the child facing
opposite to her. Under these circumstances, the High Court
ought to have accepted the case of the appellant-husband.

21) The High Court rejected the plea of the appellanthusband
regarding cruelty on the ground that apart from his
statement, there is no evidence to prove the same and Madan
Lal (PW-5), being hearsay, his evidence was not reliable. As
rightly pointed out by Mr. Nidhesh Gupta, learned senior
counsel for the appellant-husband that as far as Madan Lal
(PW-5) is concerned, the High Court has only referred to his
cross-examination without even adverting to the examinationin-
chief wherein he had categorically stated about cruelty
meted out by respondent-wife to the appellant-husband. The
relevant portion of the evidence of PW-5 is as follows:
“Thereafter Pankaj Mahajan, his wife Dimple alias Kajal and
their infant child aged about 4-5 months started living on
the upper portion of my house. They lived in my house on
rent upto 30.11.2002. After some days of taking of the
house on rent by them, I felt that the girl Dimple was not
taking any interest in household affairs and she used to
avoid doing household works………..
……….She used to sit idle after Pankaj’s going to office and
was not breast-feeding the child even after child’s
uncontrollable crying. Not only this, she used to come down
and sit in our bedroom for long hours unnecessarily and
talking rubbish and repeating on the same thing again and
again. Many times when I asked Dimple why she behaves
like this and whether she is alright or not, then she did not
reply back and kept mum and whenever she answered to my
queries, she used to say that I want to die and my heart says
that I should commit suicide. When I heard this from the
mouth of Dimple, I become doubly sure that she is mentally
unsound and due to her unsound behaviour even my family
too become disturbed and started living in constant fear
because it appeared from her behaviour that she will do
something extreme one day and if she does so, then apart
from her in-laws, all of us too will be unnecessarily
implicated in the criminal case. Dimple used to come to our
house during lunch time and demand food for herself and
used to sit in our house for long hours and whenever Pankaj
used to come back from his office, she used to tell him that
we will go to our portion after taking meals from us. She
used to repeat one thing many times. One day, she even
went to the extent of saying that you are cooking food every
day-then why don’t you keep us as your paying guest
because I cannot prepare food myself and I also cannot look
after my child. Mostly Dimple used to leave her child with
my daughter-in-law and request my daughter-in-law that
she should change clothes, bath the child and give her
canned milk. My daughter-in-law did all this for 5-6 times,
but one day my daughter-in-law clearly told Dimple that this
is your duty and she herself should look after the child. On
hearing all this, Dimple immediately turned red in anger and
slapped my daughter-in-law and called her idiot.”
It is clear from the above that the respondent-wife was not of
sound mind and she did not look after the household work
rather she used to give threats to commit suicide. She did not
even make food for the appellant-husband and he had to
arrange the same from outside. Apart from this, she used to
embarrass the appellant-husband before his landlord’s family
and because of her weird behaviour and threats to commit
suicide, the appellant-husband was forced to leave the rented
accommodation. Madan Lal, the landlord, PW-5 has also
highlighted several instances when the respondent-wife used
to quarrel with her husband and he had to face humiliation in
front of others because of her behaviour. Inasmuch as PW-5
was living in the same house on the ground floor and the
appellant-husband and the respondent-wife were living on the
first floor, the said witness being the eye-witness to the cruelty
meted out by the respondent-wife to the appellant-husband,
as he had himself seen the behaviour and the activities of the
respondent-wife including humiliation and threats of
committing suicide, cannot be thrown out. Under those
circumstances, the observation of the High Court that the
statement of PW-5 is only hearsay is liable to be rejected.

22) In addition to the evidence, the appellant-husband had
categorically pleaded in his petition for divorce about the
cruelty meted out to him. He narrated the incidents when she
used to give threats to commit suicide and had even tried to
commit suicide by jumping from the terrace and also pushed
him from the staircase resulting in fracture in his right
forearm. Due to her mental disorder, on various occasions,
she even slapped him. She was also most disrespectful to his
parents and she even forced him to live separately from them.
His evidence in the form of an affidavit filed before the trial
Court is available in the paper book wherein he narrated all
the sufferings meted out by her. It is useful to refer the
relevant portion from the same:
“My wife Dimple used to become annoyed and angry on petty
issues. She used to abuse and fight with me. She used to
flaunt her father’s status and influence. She used to comb
her hair throughout the day. She used to cry like children.
She used to apply brakes of a moving vehicle. She used to
call strangers in the house and offer them tea. Once she
even called a washerman in the house and gave him Rs.
200/- unnecessarily and when he said thanks she
immediately snatched Rs. 200/- from his hands and slapped
him for no rhyme or reason and thereafter she abused him
and pushed him out of the house. In fact, such things had
become her everyday chores. She used to tell me everything
about sex lives and relationship of her maternal uncle and
aunt. She was in the habit of not sleeping throughout night
and also used to keep me awake throughout night and
whenever I tried to sleep, she used to insist me to talk to her
and whenever I told her to allow me to sleep, she used to
press my neck. She used to wakeup the child from deep
slumber and start slapping her for no reason. She was in
the habit of wrapping the child in wrapper throughout
continuously and due to which child used to weep
continuously. She used to say that she is obsessed and
hears outer world’s voices and barking of dogs. She used to
tell me that she is regularly seeing evil spirits. She used to
go out for roaming at 2-3 a.m. in the night. Whenever I
refused to listen or agree to her demands, she used to throw
dirty clothes upon me. She was in the bad habit or keeping
the door of toilet opened throughout the day even while she
was bathing or refreshing herself. She used to doubt
everything whenever she started eating her food. She also
used to doubt her mother and sister and used to say that
both of them have immoral character. She was in the habit
of opening and closing the central locking system of the car.
She was in the habit of increasing the volume of TV to the
maximum unnecessarily. Whenever I used to go to office,
she used to stop me from going and when I told her that I
have to go to office, she used to say that she will commit
suicide. In fact she was in the habit of pressing and coaxing
me for all her needs and desires. She used to say that I
want to live with Happy and also used to say that she has no
interest in living with me. She stressed that she will leave
me and starts living with Happy. (Happy is the son of my
wife’s elder paternal uncle.)
She was in the habit of unnecessarily arguing with my
parents and used to abuse them and whenever I stopped her
from doing so, she used to threaten me that she will commit
suicide. However, I used to request my parents to look after
her in my absence. But she used to misbehave and insult
them. She used to say that she will buy her own house and
will start living in that house because this house is very
small for her needs and she feels suffocated in this house.
Although my house is in a very posh colony and it is a very
spacious, airy, open and large house. I noticed that
condition of Dimple is becoming worse every day. I became
sure that she is actually mad and she is concealing her
madness from me. I noticed that she used to keep some
medicine in her purse and used to take that medicine often.
She was actually sex-hungry and was not interested in doing
any household works. She never showed any interest in
keeping her bedroom and drawing clean and tidy. She was
in the habit of wearing the clothes of 3-4 days regularly. She
used to wake up very late in the morning. Whenever my
mother and sister called her to join them, she was abusing
and insulting them. She used to call my mother stupid and
my sister as wretched. However, I controlled myself and
kept on tolerating her conduct, because all of us were in the
fervent hope that one day God will cure her….
…..One day, my friend Sumit came to my house. Earlier
also he used to come to my house as he is also working with
me in the LIC. He wished Dimple and enquired about her
and instead of welcoming him, Dimple insulted him by
saying why are you coming to our house uncalled every day.
He felt very insulted and sat in the drawing room on the
ground floor and when I was also coming down to join him,
Dimple pushed me from stairs and started laughing
unnecessarily. As a result of aforesaid pushing, I fell down
and bones of my right arm and wrist got fractured.
Perchance, Ashok Kumar too had come to my house on that
day and he was repeatedly asking for meals. But when he
saw my condition, he immediately took me to the Hospital of
Dr. Hardas where plaster was applied on my arm and wrist.
When we came back, to my utter shock and surprise, Dimple
did not even notice any change in me and did not remotely
felt that I have received fractures in my arm and wrist and
plaster has been applied on my arm. One day when we were
sitting in the drawing room, I called Dimple and asked her to
bring tea for me. At that time she was wearing very dirty
clothes. So, I asked her to immediately go and change her
dirty clothes and wear some good clothes. But instead of
changing her clothes, she started abusing me and even
slapped me on my face. Thereupon my mother asked her
why she is behaving like this, upon which she rose her
hands to slap my mother too, but my sister stopped her from
doing so. We narrated all the above incidents of Dimple to
her father. He expressed his shock and apologized on her
behalf and advised us to start living separately and said that
she will start behaving properly and nicely.”
All the above details in the form of assertion in the affidavit
clearly show that the appellant-husband faced cruelty at the
hands of the respondent on several occasions.

READ  Divorce : Repeated Suicide threats amounts cruelty / Ground

23) It is well settled that giving repeated threats to commit suicide amounts to cruelty. When such a thing is repeated in the form of sign or gesture, no spouse can live peacefully. In the case on hand, the appellant-husband has placed adequate materials to show that the respondent-wife used to give repeated threats to commit suicide and once even tried to commit suicide by jumping from the terrace. Cruelty postulates a treatment of a spouse with such cruelty as to create reasonable apprehension in his mind that it would be harmful or injurious for him to live with the other party. The acts of the respondent-wife are of such quality or magnitude and consequence as to cause pain, agony and suffering to the appellant-husband which amounted to cruelty in matrimonial law. From the pleadings and evidence, the following instances of cruelty are specifically pleaded and stated. They are:

i. Giving repeated threats to commit suicide and even trying to commit suicide on one occasion by jumping from the terrace.
ii. Pushing the appellant from the staircase resulting into fracture of his right forearm.
iii. Slapping the appellant and assaulting him.
iv. Misbehaving with the colleagues and relatives of the appellant causing humiliation and embarrassment to him.
v. Not attending to household chores and not even making food for the appellant, leaving him to fend for himself.
vi. Not taking care of the baby.
vii. Insulting the parents of the appellant and misbehaving with them.
viii. Forcing the appellant to live separately from his parents.
ix. Causing nuisance to the landlord’s family of the appellant, causing the said landlord to force the appellant to vacate the premises.
x. Repeated fits of insanity, abnormal behaviour causing great mental tension to the appellant.
xi. Always quarreling with the appellant and abusing him.
xii. Always behaving in an abnormal manner and doing weird acts causing great mental cruelty to the appellant.

24) All these factual details culled out from the pleadings and evidence of both the parties clearly show the conduct of the respondent-wife towards the appellant-husband. With these acceptable facts and details, it cannot be concluded that the appellant-husband has not made out a case of cruelty at the hands of the respondent-wife. We are satisfied that the appellant-husband had placed ample evidence on record that the respondent-wife is suffering from “mental disorder” and due to her acts and conduct, she caused grave mental cruelty to him and it is not possible for the parties to live with each other, therefore, a decree of divorce deserves to be granted in favour of the appellant-husband. In addition to the same, it was also brought to our notice that because of the abovementioned reasons, both appellant-husband and the respondent-wife are living separately for the last more than nine years. There is no possibility to unite the chain of marital life between the appellant-husband and the respondent-wife.

25) In the light of the facts and circumstances as discussed above, in our view, the impugned order of the High Court resulted in grave miscarriage of justice to the appellanthusband,more particularly, the High Court failed to consider the relevant material aspects from the pleadings and the evidence, the ultimate conclusion cannot be sustained. The appellant-husband established and proved both grounds in terms of Section 13 of the Act. In the result, the appeal stands allowed. The divorce petition filed by the appellant-husband stands accepted and a decree of divorce is hereby passed dissolving the marriage of the appellant with the respondent from today, i.e. 30.09.2011. The impugned order of the High Court dated 06.08.2009 in FAO No. M-123 of 2006 is set aside. The appellant-husband is directed to pay an amount of Rs. 2 (Two) lakhs as alimony to the respondent-wife in two equal instalments within a period of three months from today and to deposit Rs. 3 (Three) lakhs in the name of his daughter in the shape of three FDRs in a nearest nationalised bank in three equal instalments commencing from January, 2012 ending with June, 2012. On attaining majority, the daughter is permitted to withdraw the amount. Till such period, the respondent-wife is permitted to withdraw accrued interest once in three months directly from the bank from the said deposit for the benefit and welfare of their daughter.

(P. SATHASIVAM)

(DR. B.S. CHAUHAN)
NEW DELHI;
SEPTEMBER 30, 2011.

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