Supreme Court Judgments on Matrimonial Disputes


  1. If a spouse abuses the other as being born from a prostitute, this cannot be termed as “wear and tear” of family life. Summoning the police on false or flimsy grounds cannot also be similarly viewed. Making it impossible for any close relatives to visit or reside in the matrimonial home would also indubitably result in cruelty to the other spouse
  2. The expression ‘cruelty’ has an inseparable nexus with human conduct or human behaviour. It is always dependent upon the social strata or the milieu to which the parties belong, their ways of life, relationship, temperaments and emotions that have been conditioned by their social status
  3. Cruelty has not been defined under the Act. It is quite possible that a particular conduct may amount to cruelty in one case but the same conduct necessarily may not amount to cruelty due to change of various factors, in different set of circumstances. Therefore, it is essential for the appellant, who claims relief, to prove that a particular/part of conduct or behaviour resulted in cruelty to him. No prior assumptions can be made in such matter rs. Meaning thereby that it cannot be assume d that a particular conduct will, under all circumstances, amount to cruelty, vis-à-vis the other party.The aggrieved party has to make a specific case that the conduct of which exception is taken amounts to cruelty.
  4. Vishnu Dutt Sharma vs. Manju Sharma (2009) 6 SCC 379, it has been held that irretrievable breakdown of marriage is not a ground for divorce as it is not contemplated under section 13 and granting divorce on this ground alone would amount to adding a clause therein by a judicial verdict which would amount to legislation by Court
  5. 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
  6. In our opinion, the High Court wrongly held that because the appellant-husband and the respondent-wife did not stay together there is no question of the parties causing cruelty to each other. Staying together under the same roof is not a pre-condition for mental cruelty. Spouse can cause mental cruelty by his or her conduct even while he or she is not staying under the same roof. In a given case, while staying away, a spouse can cause mental cruelty to the other spouse by sending vulgar and defamatory letters or notices or filing complaints containing indecent allegations or by initiating number of judicial proceedings making the other spouse’s life miserable
  7. A perusal of the grounds on which divorce can be sought under Section 13(1) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, would reveal, that the same are grounds based on the ‘fault’ of the party against whom dissolution of marriage is sought. In matrimonial jurisprudence, such provisions are founded on the ‘matrimonial offence theory’ or the ‘fault theory’. Under this jurisprudential principle, it is only on the ground of an opponent’s fault, that a party may approach a Court for seeking annulment of his/her matrimonial alliance. In other words, if either of the parties is guilty of committing a matrimonial offence, the aggrieved party alone is entitled to divorce. The party seeking divorce under the “matrimonial offence theory” / the “fault theory” must be innocent. A party suffering “guilt” or “fault” disentitles himself/herself from consideration
  8. In Vinny Parmvir Parmar v. Parmvir Parmar while dealing with the concept of permanent alimony, this Court has observed that while granting permanent alimony, the Court is required to take note of the fact that the amount of maintenance fixed for the wife should be such as she can live in reasonable comfort considering her status and the mode of life she was used to when she lived with her husband. At the same time, the amount so fixed cannot be excessive or affect the living condition of the other party
  9. Mere production of a marriage certificate issued under Section 13 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 in support of the claimed first marriage of the appellant with Rohit Kumar Mishra was not sufficient for any of the courts, including the High Court, to render a complete and effective decision with regard to the marital status of the parties and that too in a collateral proceeding for maintenance. Consequently, we hold that in the present case until the invalidation of the marriage between the appellant and the respondent is made by a competent court it would only be correct to proceed on the basis that the appellant continues to be the wife of the respondent so as to entitle her to claim all benefits and protection available under the DV Act, 2005
  10. Therefore, we are of the opinion that Section 2 will apply to Hindus when the Act extends to that area in terms of Section 1 of the Act. Therefore, in our considered opinion, the Act will apply to Hindu outside the territory of India only if such a Hindu is domiciled in the territory of India
  11. It is now beyond cavil that if a false criminal complaint is preferred by either spouse it would invariably and indubitably constitute matrimonial cruelty, such as would entitle the other spouse to claim a divorce
  12. It is settled law that the instances of cruelty are not to be taken in isolation but to take the cumulative effect of the facts and circumstances emerging from the evidence on record and then draw a fair inference whether the plaintiff has been subjected to mental cruelty due to conduct of the other spouse
  13. Though bigamous Hindu marriages are illegal but they are not immoral and hence a financially dependent woman cannot be denied maintenance on this ground
  14. Child born out of wedlock between a tribal woman and a forward caste non-tribal man could not claim  Scheduled Tribe status , where the child was born and brought up in the environment  of the forward community.
  15. Interpretation of the definition of SHARED HOUSEHOLD as appearing in Sec. 2(S) of P.W.D.V Act.
  16. Irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a ground of divorce
  17. In an inter-caste marriage or a marriage between a tribal and non-tribal there may be presumption that the child has the caste of the father. But by no means the presumption is conclusive or irrebuttable
  18. Fourteen illustrative(but not exhaustive) instances of human behaviour which may be relevant in dealing with the cases of MENTAL CRUELTY as decided in Samar Ghosh case
  19. Maintenance to second wife when respondent suppressed the factum of his alleged first marriage
  20. Whether the non-maintenance of the appellant in a broken live-in-relationship will amount to domestic violence
  21. Whether Rule 29(1) of the U.P Govt. Servant Conduct Rules,1956 which prohibits contracting another marriage during existence of 1st. marriage is violative of Art. 25 of the constitution
  22. Whether a Muslim divorced wife would be entitled to receive the amount of maintenance from her divorced husband under section 125 of the Cr,P,C and if yes, then through which forum
  23. To succeed in the plea of private defence, the appellant has to prove that he exercised right of private defence in his favour and this right extended to the extent of causing death
  24. Husband cannot be permitted to plead that he is unable to maintain the wife due to financial constraints as long as he is capable of earning
  25. The legislature never intended to exclude female relatives of the husband or male partner from the ambit of a complaint that can be made under D.V Act, 2005
  26. Whether the appellant has ceased to be an AGGRIEVED PERSON under the protection of women from domestic violence act because of the decree of judicial separation
  27. Undoubtedly, not allowing a spouse for a long time, to have sexual intercourse by his or her partner, without sufficient reason, itself amounts mental cruelty to such spouse
  28. Making it impossible for any close relative to visit or reside in the matrimonial home would also indubitably result in CRUELTY to the other spouse
  29. Merely because the wife was earning something, it would not be a ground to reject her claim for maintenance.
  30. The core issue that is requisite to be addressed is whether the appellant has ceased to be an “aggrieved person” because of the decree of judicial separation. Once the decree of divorce is passed, the status of the parties becomes different, but that is not so when there is a decree for judicial separation
  31. This doctrine of irretrievable break-down of marriage is not available even to the High Courts which do not have powers similar to those exercised by the Supreme Court under Article 142 of the Constitution. Neither the civil courts nor even the High Courts can, therefore, pass orders before the periods prescribed under the relevant provisions of the Act or on grounds not provided for in Section 13 and 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.The second proposition is that although the Supreme Court can, in exercise of its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, convert a proceeding under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, into one under Section 13-B and pass a decree for mutual divorce, without waiting for the statutory period of six months, none of the other Courts can exercise such powers.
  32. We, therefore, set aside the impugned judgment of the Bombay High Court and declare that the words “adult male” in Section 2(q) of the 2005 Act will stand deleted since these words do not square with Article 14 of the Constitution of India. Consequently, the proviso to Section 2(q), being rendered otiose, also stands deleted.
  33. Applying the said ratio to the facts of this case, we are inclined to hold that the unsubstantiated allegations levelled by the Respondent wife and the threats and attempt to commit suicide by her amounted to mental cruelty and therefore, the marriage deserves to be dissolved by a decree of divorce on the ground stated in Section 13(1)(ia) of the Act

Source: Official Website of WBJA, Last Updated on 15-06-2024

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