In this blogpost, Harsha Jeswani, Student, National Law Institute University, Bhopal, writes about how a false complaint by a wife entitles the husband the right to seek divorce.
Marriage in India is regarded as the institution of unification of a girl and a boy to acclaim the social status in the society. It is often like an institution created by itself. But sadly these days, this institution of marriage is easily broken. There has been an increase in the number of the breakdown of wedlocks each year either due to the fault of the husband or the wife. The wife can file a complaint against husband under Section 498A, IPC, The Hindu Marriage Act, 195 and the Domestic Violence Act, 2005. However, there were instances where a wife instituted a false complaint against her husband. In such cases, the husband had no remedy since the laws of India are tilted towards in favour of women.
It is clear from this unfair nature of laws that unlike other laws of India, the Burden of Proof in laws dealing with protection of women lies on the accused to prove his innocence which means that the husband and his family members are immediately apprehended as soon as wife lodges an FIR that is without an opportunity of being heard, they are considered as accused.
But recently, the verdict given by the High Court of Bombay in the case of Shri Mangesh Balkrushna Bhoir v. Sau. Leena Mangesh Bhoir decided on 23rd December, 2015 provided some relief to the husband in such cases of false complaints. The Court held that whenever a wife institutes a false complaint against her husband and his family members and the husband and his family members get acquitted, and no case is made out against them, then such an act of wife would constitute cruelty. The judgment was delivered by Justice R.D. Dhanuka wherein he said that on such a ground, the husband is entitled to file a petition for divorce from her wife.
IPC does not define the term cruelty. The courts in India have regarded cruelty as an inhuman act that causes mental sufferings and threatens the health and life of another person. There can be mental as well as physical cruelty either by husband or wife. Section 13(1) (i-a) of The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 provides cruelty as one of the grounds for divorce and party seeking divorce must prove that it has become impossible for husband and wife to live together.
FACTS OF THE CASE
In the above matter, the complaint was filed by the wife against her husband and his family members under Section 498A read with Section 34 of Indian Penal Code. Thereafter, the Husband filed a petition praying for divorce on the ground of cruelty and on other grounds. The petition of the wife was dismissed as the prosecution failed to provide sufficient evidence to the court, and hence the court acquitted the accused. In the meantime, the divorce petition of the Husband was allowed on the ground on cruelty. The first appellate court set aside the order for divorce. The Husband filed an appeal against it.
The question which came before the High Court was whether the appellate Court was justified in reversing the order of the Trial Court granting a divorce to husband on the ground of cruelty especially when the husband has been acquitted under Section 498A, IPC?
The Court referred to the case of K.Srinivas v. K.Sunita where the Apex Court held that it is a settled point of law that if either spouse lodges a false complaint, it would invariably amount to cruelty and would enable the other spouse to file a petition for divorce. The Court said that whenever a complaint filed by the wife against her husband under Section 498A, IPC is rejected, and the husband and his family members are subsequently acquitted; then it can be said that the complaint filed by the wife is fraudulent. This is contrary to the judgement of the Patna High Court in Bhola Kumar v. Seema Devi where the court said any criminal complaint filed by the wife would not constitute cruelty as a ground for seeking a divorce. Justice R.D. Dhanuka made a distinction holding that in the said case, the petition by the wife against her husband was still pending before the Criminal Court when the petition for divorce was heard by the Family Court. However in instant case, the husband and his family members were acquitted. .
The Supreme Court after receiving a lot of false complaints by the wives against their husbands has settled the law related to cruelty against the Husband. In Mrs. Deepalakshmi Saehia Zingade v. Sachi Rameshrao Zingadeṅ, the wife filed a complaint against her husband stating that he has an extra-marital affair which later was proved. Court considered such act of wife cruelty against her husband. Similarly, in Anil Bharadwaj v. Nimlesh Bharadwaj, the court held that the refusal of the wife to have sexual intercourse with the husband amounts to cruelty against the husband. Other grounds of cruelty against the husband are-
- Adultery by wife during the lifetime of marriage.
- Misuse of Section 498A, IPC, the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and other laws.
- Desertion by wife
- The Cruel behaviour of a wife.
- Initiating criminal proceedings against the husband and his family members with malafide intention, etc.
Thus, looking to the glaring reality where wife often falsely implicates her husband, I am of the opinion that the verdict by the Bombay High Court is totally justified, and, therefore, such decision must be observed all over the country to prevent the institution of marriage and to punish those women who try to mislead the court by filing false complaints against their husbands.
 498A. Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.—Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. Explanation.—For the purpose of this section, “cruelty” means—(a) any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or (b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.
 34. Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.—When a criminal act is done by several persons in furtherance of the common intention of all, each of such persons is liable for that act in the same manner as if it were done by him alone.
 (2014) 16 SCC
 (2015) DMC 437 (DB) (Patna)
 AIR 2010 Bom 16
 AIR 1987 Del 111
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