The Uttarakhand High Court on May 23, 2019, in the case of Sheenu Mahendru v. Sangeeta @ Soniya has observed that persistent efforts of a wife to compel her husband to get separated from his mother constitute an act of cruelty.
A Division Bench comprising of Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Justice R.C. Khulbe made the above observation while hearing an appeal filed by the appellant/husband against the impugned judgment passed by the Family Court, Haridwar whereby the petition filed by the husband under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, was dismissed.
In this case, after the solemnization of marriage between respondent/wife and appellant/husband, the wife started pressuring the appellant who was living with his old and infirm mother to reside separately at Delhi. The wife started threatening the appellant that if the appellant did not accede to her demand, then she would commit suicide and kill her son as well.
She also started misbehaving, and even physically torturing the mother of the appellant. Subsequently, she left her matrimonial home and filed a false criminal case against the appellant and his family members under Sections 406 and 498-A r/w Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
After hearing both the parties, the High Court allowed the appeal of the appellant/husband who had sought divorce on the ground of cruelty under Section 13(1) (i-a) (i-b) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
The High Court observed that "In normal circumstances, the wife is expected to be with the family of the husband after marriage because she becomes an integral a part of the family of the husband, and without any justifiable reason, she may not insist that her husband stays separately from her old mother, and to live with his wife in a separate and rented accommodation.. In our opinion, normally, no husband would tolerate this nor would any son like to be separated from his old mother, who is dependent upon her son. The persistent efforts of the respondent-wife to compel the appellant to get separated from his mother would be torturous for the husband, and in our opinion this act of respondent certainly constitutes an act of cruelty."
Further, taking into consideration the facts of the case, the court said “living separately of the parties for a long time, public insult, embarrassment to the appellant, agony and humiliation suffered by the appellant, charging the appellant with false allegations amounts to cruelty by the respondent towards her husband.”
On perusal of the entire material on record, the court listed out the following facts constituting cruelty:-
- “Disrespectful and disparaging remarks by the respondent wife against the appellant-husband would amount to cruelty under Section 13(1) (i-a) of the Act as laid down in Santana Banerjee v. Sachindra Nath Banerjee.
- The respondent-wife created a pressure on appellant-husband by alleging that she will commit suicide and kill her son and entangle the appellant in a false case would amount to be a cruelty as laid down in Harbhajan Singh v. Monga Amarjeet Kaur.
- The attitude of respondent-wife abusing the mother in law and making sarcastic remark against the husband before the relatives of husband would amount to be a cruelty as laid down in Rajinder Bhardwaj v. Mrs. Anita Sharma.
- If the wife physically assaults the mother-in-law and abuses her will amount to be a cruelty.
- The respondent has compelled the appellant to abandon his 75 years old and infirm mother.
- The respondent has compelled the appellant to live separately in a rented house.
- The respondent had compelled the appellant to live with her at Delhi after selling off his ancestral house.
- The behaviour of the respondent-wife made the life of the appellant-husband miserable and it became impossible for the appellant to stay with the respondent for the aforesaid reasons. Moreover, the respondent wanted the appellant to leave his own mother and get separated from his mother so that the respondent can live independently, and in that event it would become more torturous for the appellant to stay only with the respondent-wife to tolerate such nature and behaviour of the respondent.”
On the basis of the observations made, the court allowed the appeal, however, in the interest of the minor son born out of the wedlock of the parties the court directed the appellant to pay an amount of Rs.14 lakh to the wife for maintenance and education of the son.