Wife repeatedly leaving matrimonial home without any fault of husband is cruelty: Delhi High Court

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The Delhi High Court has recently observed that a wife leaving the matrimonial home or leaving her husband’s company repeatedly, without any fault on the part of the husband, constitutes an act of mental cruelty.

A bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Neena Bansal Krishna made the observation while granting a man divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, on the ground of cruelty and desertion by his estranged wife.

“It is a clear case where the respondent-wife left the matrimonial home, from time to time, without there being any act or fault on the part of the appellant-husband. Such withdrawal by the respondent from time to time, are acts of mental cruelty to which the appellant was subjected, without any reason or justification,” the Court said.

Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Neena Bansal Krishna
The Court also noted that a marriage flourishes when it is rooted in mutual support, devotion, and allegiance.

“Repeated acts of separation, akin to a relentless storm, only uproot this foundation, scattering seeds of discord that threaten the sanctity of the union. Amidst the tempest of distance and abandonment, this bond breaks beyond repair, leaving behind irreparable scars on the landscape of trust and commitment,” the Court added.

The couple before the Court had got married in 1992.

After differences arose between the spouses, the man filed a plea for divorce before a family court in 2017.

The family court rejected his divorce petition in 2022, prompting him to file an appeal before the High Court.

Before the High Court, he alleged that his wife’s behaviour was erratic, that she subjected him to various forms of cruelty, and deserted him on at least six occasions.

On the last such occasion, being in 2011, she was alleged to have said that her husband is dead to her and tied a rakhi on his hand to signify that he is thereafter like a brother to her, before leaving him.

The wife did not deny the instances of separation, but counter-alleged that he husband was cold towards her and that his family members had humiliated her.

She also claimed that rather than her leaving the matrimonial house, it was her husband who dropped her back to her parental home on several occasions.

She further alleged that he had to face various forms of humiliation in her matrimonial home, while she remained there.

The Court observed that there was material to indicate that the wife was dissatisfied with her mother-in-law’s behavior, leading her to feel a lack of space, control, and respect, which in turn made her unhappy in the matrimonial home.

The Court, however, noted that there no wrongdoing by the husband while taking stock the various instances when the wife left her matrimonial home.

The Court also opined that the family court had taken a myopic or short-sighted view when it considered each incident of separation as an independent event rather than indicative of the state of the marriage itself.

“In fact it is the journey of the parties through their matrimonial life, which is determinative of their compatibility, progressiveness and growth. We find that there is overwhelming evidence to show that it is the respondent (wife), who subjected the appellant (husband) to a life of uncertainty with there being no settlement and mental peace in the matrimonial life, despite 20 years of being spent together,” the Court said.

The Court noted that it was also evident that no serious conciliatory efforts were made by the wife to return to the matrimonial home and that the efforts were made by her husband through family friends and relatives did not succeed.

“It is, therefore, proved that the respondent (wife) has deserted the appellant without any reasonable cause and is entitled to divorce, on the ground of desertion,” the Court added, while allowing the husband’s appeal.

Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra alongwith advocates Kamakshi Gupta and Manas Agrawal represented the appellant.

Advocate Reena Jain Malhotra appeared for the respondent.

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