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This article is written by Vivek Maurya from ICFAI Law University, Dehradun. In this article, the author has described the meaning of cruelty with respect to the case of Chiranjib Bag v. Suchandra Bag.

Introduction

Marriage is a matter of personal and emotional relationships. It requires trust, consideration, mutual respect, and enough love to fix the right thing with a partner. Relationships should be in line with social norms. The conduct of marriage is now governed by the laws of the land, keeping in view of such practices and the changing social norms.

Prior to the amendment of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, cruelty was not a ground for divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act. It was for the purpose of seeking legal separation under Section 10 of the Act. After the 1976 Amendment, cruelty was made a ground for divorce. The words, included, are intended to “create a reasonable fear in the applicant’s assumption that it will be dangerous for the applicant to stay with another party”.

Grounds of divorce as per the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

As per this Act, divorce maintenance was originally based on the fault theory and enshrined nine fault grounds in Section 13(1) on which either the husband or wife could sue for divorce and the two fault grounds in Section 13(2) on which the wife alone could seek a divorce.

In 1964, by amendment, certain provisions of Section 13(1) were amended in terms of Section 13(1A), thus recognizing two reasons for the dissolution of the marriage. The Amendment Act of 1976 included two additional grounds for divorce on the part of the wife and a new Section 13(B) for divorce by mutual consent.

The various grounds on which a divorce decree can be obtained are as follows:

Adultery

Although adultery may not be recognized as a criminal offense in all countries, according to the Act, adultery is a valid reason for divorce.

In adultery, there should be voluntary or consensual sex between a married person and another, whether married or single, of the opposite sex, not that you are someone else’s partner, during the marriage. Since adultery is a crime in a marriage, it is important to find out the truth when the crime is committed while the marriage is still in progress.

Also, it follows that unless a person voluntarily consents to an act, there will be no adultery. A case of adultery can be proved by:

  1. Circumstantial evidence
  2. Infection with venereal disease

Cruelty

The idea of ​​cruelty is a changing concept. The modern concept of cruelty includes both mental and physical cruelty. Cruel acts are manifestations of behavior that are influenced by various aspects of the couple’s life and environment and, therefore, each case must be determined on the basis of its facts.

Although physical cruelty is easy to underestimate, mental cruelty is the lack of kindness to engage in, which brings pain to a degree and to the extent that it has a negative impact on the victim’s health, mental or physical well-being.

In Pravin Mehta v. Inderjeet Mehta (2002), the Court described mental cruelty as ‘an attitude’. Some of the atrocities are as follows:

  1. False allegations of adultery or immorality;
  2. Demand for dowry;
  3. Refusal to have sex in marriage;
  4. Impotency;
  5. Birth of a child (if pregnant without consent);
  6. Drunkenness;
  7. Suicide threat;
  8. Wife writing false complaints to her husband’s employer;
  9. Incompatibility of mildness; and
  10. An irreparable breakdown of a marriage.

Desertion

Desertion means being rejected by one party of all marital obligations – to leave permanently or abandon another partner without good reason and without the consent of the other. It means the complete rejection of the marital bond.

The following 5 situations must be present to create desertification. They must come together to present the reason for the divorce:

  1. The factum of separation.
  2. Intention to desert.
  3. Desertion without any reasonable cause.
  4. Desertion without the consent of another party.
  5. The official two-year term must have expired before the application can be submitted.

In Bipin Chander Jaisinghbhai Shah v. Prabhawati (1956), the High Court held that where the defendant leaves the marital home for the purpose of divorce, he will not be guilty of leaving if, later, he shows a tendency to return and is barred from doing so by the applicant.

Conversion

When one group has ceased to be a Hindu by converting to any other religion e.g. Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, the divorce process can be offered.

Insanity

Insanity as a ground of divorce has the following two requirements:

  1. The respondent has been incurable of unsound mind.
  2. The respondent has been subjected to ongoing or occasional harassment from such mental disorders and to the extent that the applicant can reasonably be expected to live with the respondent.

Leprosy

Leprosy infection and disgusting repulsive manifestations are responsible for creating the psychology where a man is not only avoided by the company of lepers but treated with contempt. Therefore, it is provided as a reason for divorce. The duty to prove this is up to the applicant.

Venereal disease

At present, it is a reason for divorce if it is a natural issue regardless of how much the defendant has suffered from it. It is not necessary to notify the requester (even if he or she is innocent).

Renunciation

Land redistribution is the only reason for divorce under Hindu law, as land redistribution is a common Hindu concept. Modern integrated Hindu law stipulates that a spouse may seek a divorce once the other party has renounced the land and has entered a holy state. The person who does this is considered dead. Such an act of disposal must be transparent and complete.

Presumption of death

Under the Act, a person is considered dead, if he or she has not been declared alive for at least seven years. The burden of proof that the defendant’s whereabouts are unknown at the time required may apply under all marriage laws. This is an assertion of universal acceptance as it provides evidence in cases where it would be extremely difficult to prove that fact. The divorce decree issued under this Section applies and is valid.

Cruelty as a ground for divorce

All marital behaviour, which can cause great frustration for the other person, may not be so cruel. A little resentment, a quarrel between partners, that occurs in the daily life of a marriage, may also be less cruel. Cruelty to marital discord can vary considerably, which can be subtle or even cruel. It can be verbal, physical or peaceful, violent or non-violent.

To be cruel, the character in question must be “big and heavy” in order to reach the conclusion that the applicant partner will not be expected to live with another person. It should be more serious than the “normal breakdown of marital life”.

It is difficult to give a precise explanation or to give a complete description of the conditions, which can be cruel. It should be a form to satisfy the conscience of the court that the relationship between the parties has been so damaged by the conduct of the other spouse that it would not have been possible for them to live together without trauma, abuse or depression, to give the complaining partner the right to divorce.

There are various reasons for applying on the basis of cruelty, which are pointed out by the courts in their various judgments, and the courts give a legal backup to the sufferer in this sense. Give the following definition within the scope of cruelty under Section 13 (1)(i)(ia)

  1. Suffice it to say that when cruelty is such a kind that it is difficult for the couple to live together.
  2. The rhetoric of false accusations against one’s spouse about illicit relationships with different people outside of marriage will amount to mental cruelty.
  3. A man cannot ask his wife if he doesn’t like his company, but he can or should stay with other family members in the marital home. Such an attitude is self-defeating on the part of the husband.
  4. Social abuse by any of the partners has been found to be psychological and cruel.
  5. If the motive for the injury, harassment or harm is not considered in the nature of the conduct or the act of cruelty mentioned, cruelty can be easily established. But a lack of purpose should not make a difference in this case. Cruelty can also be caused by cultural differences between groups.
  6. A group can create psychological atrocities when one partner raises suspicions that the applicant is a mental patient, or that he or she needs psychiatric treatment to restore his or her mental health.

Chiranjib Bag v. Suchandra Bag (2021)

In the case of Chiranjib Bag v. Smt. Suchandra Bag (2021) the Calcutta High Court comprising a bench of Judges Arindam Sinha and Suvra Ghosh noted that the word “cruel” does not include minor disputes and divisions that are part of marital life.

Facts of the case

The respondent is the wife of the applicant as a result of civil marriage and Hindu custom dated 10-08-2009. Disputes and divisions arose between the parties which led the appellant/ husband to file a petition seeking a divorce decision under Section 13 (i) (a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 before the Regional District Magistrate, Durgapur.

The respondent was receiving temporary maintenance from Rs. 3,000 / – per month from the appellant because of the order issued by the Tribunal. The respondent is ready and willing to reconcile with the applicant and lead a peaceful married life with him or her. He prayed for the suit to be removed. After taking the testimony of the parties and considering all the written material, the court of law learned, by a contested decision, dismissed the case in the contest. Annoyed by the dismissal, the appellant (the bridegroom) appeared before the Appellate Court, appealing the divorce decision in his favor.

Contention of the parties

The appellant’s attorney submitted a statement stating that he did not intend to suppress the grounds of adultery and condemnation and would place his case on the ground.

Initially, it was stated on behalf of the plaintiff that although the defendant applied to continue praying for maintenance, he did not appear in court for the purpose of restoring the civil rights that indicated he was unwilling to resume marital life. Referring to the defendant’s objection in his written statement as well as his testimony before the educated court, the educated lawyer presented that the allegations of bribery demands and cruelty filed by the applicant were false and that the defendant’s sexual misconduct was psychologically cruel. The allegations made against the respondent by the defendant are baseless, false and false. In order to support his argument, the passerby has placed his trust in the authority in the Smt. Santana Banerjee v/s. Sachindra Nath Banerjee reported on AIR 1990 and Amarendranath Sanyal v/s. Krishna Sanyal reported on (1993).

The learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondent/wife has supported the accused’s decision and stated that the defendant was evicted from his or her marriage home by the complainant and his or her family members and forced to stay at the parent’s home. There are many false allegations made by the defendant by the defendant who refused to accept him when he returned to his marital home. The respondent is ready and willing to reunite with her husband and has not yet taken steps to force her to oppose him despite being brutalized and deprived of her marital life. The Academic Advocate also referred to the decision of the Court’s co-ordinating bench in Suparna Dalui v / s. Bidhan Mondal reported 2016.

Court’s observation & Judgment

The Court took the respondent’s opinion in the current case. The court ruled that the appellant had filed for divorce in an undisclosed manner.

Allegation of cruelty which was neither explained nor elaborated. It was the plaintiff who came to the point of killing the character, morals, and sexual power of the defendant. The Court reported that the allegations of cruelty were not substantiated and that even if there were some differences between the parties, the definition of cruelty could not be extended to include minor disputes and differences as part of normal marital life. The Court said that while trying to plead guilty to the defendant’s abuse, the plaintiff had expressed his cruel and disrespectful attitude towards his wife which seriously affected the dignity and respect of the woman.

Conclusion

The backbone of the case focuses on the issue of whether the definition of cruelty can close minor marital disputes. The Court, in this case, issued a ruling. The Court ruled that because the defendant did not formally pray for the reinstatement of the right to a court hearing, it was never assumed that he had no intention of resuming his life with the applicant. The Court, in the case of Suparna Dalui v. Bidhan Mondal (2016) has ruled that irreparable divorce has never been legalized as a ground for divorce. The decision was quoted by the defendant in the current case. The Court, considering the arguments of the defendant, ruled in his favor and dismissed the petition filed by the plaintiff seeking a divorce. The Court, therefore, should have concluded that the appellant had failed miserably to prove his case and that there was no contravention of the law or of the decision in the appellate court’s decision.

References


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