IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA
Decided on : 20.09.2019
. . . Appellant(s)
. . . Respondent(s)
CORAM: HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE RAJAN GUPTA
HON’BLE MRS. JUSTICE MANJARI NEHRU KAUL
Argued by: Mr. Arnav Sood, Advocate
for the appellant(s).
Mr. Deepak Verma, Advocate
for the respondent(s).
MANJARI NEHRU KAUL, J.
Instant appeal has been preferred by the wife – Kavita Agwani,
against the judgment and decree dated 01st April, 2017, passed by the Ld. Addl.
District Judge, Hoshiarpur, (in short ‘Ld. Court below’), vide which the petition
filed by the respondent-husband/Davinder Kumar, under Section 13 of the Hindu
Marriage Act, 1955 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Act’), seeking dissolution of his
marriage with the respondent-wife, was allowed.
A few facts necessary for adjudication of the case, as pleaded in the
petition filed by the respondent-husband (petitioner therein) before the Ld. Court
below, may be noticed. The marriage between the parties was solemnized on 27th
November, 2004. The behaviour of the wife remained cordial for just about eight
months after the wedding and thereafter, she would often quarrel with the husband
and his family on trivial issues. She would pressurize the husband to take up a
separate residence and when the husband refused to succumb to her pressure, she
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started maltreating and insulting him and his parents in front of one and all. The
birth of their daughter in the year 2005 also did not help matters, as she continued
to insist upon, for a separate accommodation. She would use derogatory and
unparliamentary language against his parents including character assassination of
the husband’s mother. The wife got a job in the Education Department in the year
2007. She without even informing the husband took up a rented accommodation
at her place of posting i.e. Rajpur Gujra. In 2008, the husband got himself
transferred to Chabbewal, so that the couple could live together in their
matrimonial home. The husband managed to prevail upon the wife to return to the
matrimonial home in the year 2009, but her behaviour continued to be the same as
before. There were no conjugal relations between the parties from 2010 onwards.
In March, 2013, the wife left her matrimonial home and started residing at
Garshankar, refusing to return to her matrimonial home despite earnest efforts by
the husband. She took along with her, their daughter, who was then left by her at
her parental home at Ferozepur. At Garshankar, she started residing in the house
of one Kulwinder @ Kinda for which even Panchayat was got convened, but the
wife refused to mend her ways and join the society of the husband. It was in these
circumstances, the husband sought dissolution of his marriage with the wife on the
grounds of ‘desertion’ and ‘cruelty’.
Per contra, in the written statement filed before the Ld. Court below,
the wife categorically refuted and denied all the allegations made by the husband
in his petition. She submitted that her husband and his family had been
maltreating and subjecting her to both mental and physical torture in the
matrimonial home. Even though, she exercised a lot of patience and tolerance,
hoping that better sense would prevail upon the husband and his family, their
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behaviour, however, worsened by the day. In March, 2013, the husband and his
parents after picking up a quarrel, turned her out from the matrimonial home along
with their minor daughter. All efforts by the appellant-wife and her family to
bring about a reconciliation proved futile. In September, 2013, a Panchayat was
convened, pursuant to which the appellant-wife was rehabilitated in her
matrimonial home. However, on the same day, she was physically assaulted by
the husband and his family and thrown out of her matrimonial home with their
minor daughter. It was only thereafter, she started residing at Garshankar with her
daughter, as it was close to her place of posting. After a few months, the husband
took away the minor daughter, for which, she filed a separate case under the
Guardian and SectionWards Act before the Court below. Thus, in the given facts and
circumstances, it was submitted that the husband was not entitled to decree of
divorce and she accordingly prayed for dismissal of the his petition.
From the pleadings of the parties, the following issues were framed by
the Ld. Court below:-
“1. Whether respondent treated the petitioner with cruelty ? OPP
2. Whether respondent has deserted the petitioner since March,
2013 ? OPR
3. Whether petitioner is entitled to decree of divorce on the
grounds of desertion and cruelty ? OPP
4. Whether the petition is not maintainable in the present form ?
In order to prove their case, both the parties adduced evidence in
support of their respective stands. The respondent-husband examined as many as
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five witnesses i.e. PW-1 Amarjit Singh, PW-2 Atma Singh, PW-3 Devi Dass and
PW-4 Tulsi Dass. He himself stepped into witnesses-box as PW-5. On the other
hand, appellant-wife appeared as RW-1 and closed her evidence.
After analyzing the evidence led by the parties, the Ld. Court below
allowed the petition under Section 13 of the Act filed by the respondent-husband.
We have heard learned counsel for the parties and have also gone
through the evidence and other material on record.
During the pendency of the instant appeal, the parties were referred to
the Mediation and Conciliation Centre of this Court to explore the possibility of an
amicable settlement, but the same proved to be a futile exercise. It may also be
noticed that the parties during the arguments reiterated their earlier versions and
maintained their respective stands, as taken before the Ld. Court below.
Learned counsel for the appellant-wife urged that the Ld. Court below
while passing the impugned judgment erred in not appreciating that the allegations
of cruelty levelled against the appellant-wife were totally vague and on the face of
it were at best trivial differences between any married couple.
Adverting to the case in hand, the moot question which would require
our consideration is whether the conduct of the wife could be said to be so cruel
making it intolerable for the husband to suffer the same any longer. The answer to
the same shall have to be gathered after taking into account all the relevant
circumstances brought on record.
A perusal of the testimonies of the witnesses produced by the husband
corroborates the case of the husband that the appellant-wife had indeed been
indulging in totally unbecoming and uncalled for behaviour not only towards his
parents but also towards him. The least which can be expected from the spouses is
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that they would at least behave in a civilized manner towards each others parents.
Asking a spouse to live separately may not amount to cruelty but using
unparliamentary and derogatory language including character assassination of the
husband’s mother and that too in front of outsiders would certainly fall within the
parameters of mental cruelty.
Further the deposition qua the misbehaviour of the appellant-wife by
the witnesses, who appeared on behalf of the husband have gone unchallenged. In
the instant case, a perusal of the evidence led, serious and glaring contradictions
are discernible of the written submissions and deposition of the appellant herself.
Strangely, on the one hand, she deposed that she had been subjected to beatings by
the husband and his family; in September, 2013, when she returned to her
matrimonial home in pursuance to the Panchayat convened to bring about a
reconciliation between the parties, but in the same breath she submitted that after
she was turned out from the matrimonial home, she went to Ferozepur in her
father’s car. Not only this, as per her, when she was allegedly beaten up by the
husband and his family, her father, uncle and cousin brother were present, who
rescued her from the wrath of the husband and his family. This is, at variance,
with her averments made in the written submissions. The least that the appellant-
wife could have done was to examine her father, uncle or cousin brother in whose
presence, she was allegedly assaulted by the respondent-husband and his family.
It was not done for the reasons best known to her. A serious question mark is thus
raised qua the veracity of the allegations levelled by the appellant-wife against the
respondent-husband. The conduct of the appellant-wife to say the least, falls
within the parameters of what would constitute mental cruelty. It is very apparent
that to cover up for her own wrongs, she has been levelling false allegations of
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physical and mental harassment against the husband and his family. It is clearly,
discernible that there was a deliberate withdrawal by the appellant-wife without
any reasonable cause from the society of the husband, which would also amount to
infliction of mental cruelty on the husband.
As a sequel to the above, we find that no interference in the judgment
passed by the Ld. Court below is called for. Consequently, the present appeal
stands dismissed and the judgment and decree dated 01st April, 2017 of the Ld.
Court below, is upheld.
(RAJAN GUPTA) (MANJARI NEHRU KAUL)
September 20, 2019
Whether speaking/reasoned: Yes/No
Whether Reportable: Yes/No
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