The Karnataka High Court recently held that a husband treating his wife as a cash cow and using her money without having any emotional attachment towards her would amount to mental cruelty [Leena Monteiro vs Alwyn D’Cruz].
A bench of Justices Alok Aradhe and J M Khazi noted that in the present, even though the wife had spent over ₹60 lakh on her husband’s failed business ventures, she wasn’t treated well, causing her emotional and mental agony.
“… it is evident that the husband has treated her as a cash cow and had a materialistic attitude towards her. He had no emotional ties with her. His attitude in itself has caused mental agony and emotional trauma to her which is sufficient to make out a ground of mental cruelty,” the Court said in its judgment.
The High Court was considering an appeal by a woman against a Family Court order passed in June 2020 denying her divorce on grounds of cruelty.
She had argued that since her husband’s family had huge debts, he couldn’t take care of her and her daughter. Therefore, she decided to work and got a job in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2008.
The court was told that she had set up a salon shop for her husband in the UAE and spent a lot of money to take him to the gulf country in 2012 under an investor’s visa. But, within a year, her husband returned to India.
She stated that she had cleared all the debts of the family and had even bought some land parcels in Chikmagalur, with her own income.
Eventually, she realised that she was being used only for her money and she approached a Family Court seeking divorce.
The Family Court issued an ex-parte order rejecting her divorce petition in 2018.
However, the High Court found merits in her case.
Referring to the judgments of the Supreme Court in Dastane v Dastane and Samar Ghosh v Jaya Ghosh, the Court reiterated that each matrimonial dispute and allegation of cruelty must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
In the instant case, the Court found that the actions of the husband did amount to cruelty and, therefore, allowed the appeal.
The bench also said that the Family Court had grossly erred in not appreciating the wife’s version especially since her testimony was not even put to cross examination.
“Therefore, there is no convincing reason not to accept the uncontroverted testimony of the wife. Thus, the ground for dissolution of marriage on the ground of cruelty as provided under Section 10(X) of the Indian Divorce Act, 1869 is made out,” the judgment stated.
Advocate Satyen Bajaj appeared for the wife while the husband was represented by advocate HN Manjunath Prasad.