Delhi High Court says financial instability of spouse can amount to mental cruelty, grants divorce to wife

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The Delhi High Court recently held that the term mental cruelty is wide enough to take within its ambit the financial instability of a spouse and granted divorce to woman

A division bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna said that financial instability on account of a husband not being settled in any business or profession, which ultimately leads to him indulging in other vices, is bound to result in anxiety and can be termed as a constant source of mental cruelty for a wife.

The Court made the observation while dealing with a matrimonial dispute, where a huge disparity was noticed between the financial status of the estranged spouses.

“The endeavours of the respondent (husband) to be able to sustain himself had admittedly failed. Such kind of financial instability is bound to result in mental anxiety on account of husband being not settled in any business or profession which resulted in other vices, can be termed as a constant source of mental cruelty to the appellant. The term ‘mental cruelty’ is wide enough to take within its ambit the ‘financial instability,’” the Court observed.

The Court was dealing with a plea filed by a woman against a family court order rejecting her plea for divorce.

It was stated that the couple got married in 1989 but started living separately in 1996. The woman was a graduate from Delhi University (DU) and was working with a multi-national company. At the time of the marriage, it was represented that the man she was marrying had also studied at DU and had a good income.

However, after marriage, she came to know that the man was not a graduate and had no job and the only income he had was from his mother.

It was alleged that the man involved himself in gambling and other activities and would beat up the petitioner. She conceived twice but suffered a miscarriage once, while the second time, it was stillbirth. The woman stated that she got no attention or medical care.

The Court considered the case and noted that although the woman claimed harassment on account of dowry and asserted that she was physically abused by the man and his family members, none of these alleged acts could be proved by evidence.

It observed that the true reason for the discord in marriage was the financial instability of the husband and that with the kind of financial disparity that existed between the couple, differences were bound to crop up.

“The very fact that the parties have been living separately since November 1996 and no conciliation has taken place for the past about 27 years, proves that the parties were unable to sustain their matrimonial relationship. For a couple to be deprived of each other’s company and of conjugal relationship can be interpreted only as amounting to mental cruelty,” the Court added.

The Court further observed that a dead relationship only brings pain and agony and the Court cannot be a party to perpetuation of such mental cruelty.

It, therefore, allowed the woman’s appeal and granted divorce on grounds of cruelty and desertion.

Advocate Akash Madan appeared for the appellant-woman, who also appeared in person. Advocate Anurag Vashisht appeared for the respondent, who appeared in person as well.

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