In a major judgement, the Delhi High Court recently stated that making false accusations of dowry harassment or rape charges filed by a woman against the family members of her husband amounts to “extreme cruelty”, one which can’t be forgiven. The court also stated that depriving the spouse of cohabitation and a conjugal relationship is also an extreme act of cruelty,
The court stressed that cohabitation and conjugal relationship are the bedrock of any matrimonial relationship and for a couple to be deprived of each other’s company, proves that the marriage cannot survive. The court added that such deprivation of a conjugal relationship is an act of extreme cruelty.
A two-judge bench comprising Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna made these remarks while rejecting a woman’s appeal. She had challenged a family court’s order granting a divorce decree to her estranged husband based on the grounds of cruelty.
The bench said, “In the present case, indisputably parties are residing separately since 2014 which proves that they are unable to sustain a matrimonial relationship thereby depriving each other from mutual companionship and conjugal relationship. Such separation of almost nine years is an instance of utmost mental cruelty, asking for immediate severance of matrimonial relationship on grounds of cruelty under the Hindu Marriage Act.”
The bench noted that the husband also claimed that there was no consummation of marriage, and he said in the court that his wife used to resist his endeavour for sexual intercourse and was always reluctant. While the court stated that there was no evidence that the marriage was not consummated and that the man had actually taken his wife to the doctor for not having a child, there was sufficient evidence to prove that the woman was reluctant and was never forthcoming for cohabitation.
The court noted that the estranged couple barely managed to live together for about 13 months and were unable to maintain their marital relationship.
The bench observed that for a couple to be deprived of each other’s company and conjugal relationship is an extreme act of cruelty, a view which has also been endorsed by the Supreme Court. “It needs no reiteration that the bed rock of any matrimonial relationship is cohabitation and conjugal relationship. For a couple to be deprived of each other’s company, proves that the marriage cannot survive, and such deprivation of conjugal relationship is an act of extreme cruelty,” the court said.
The bench further asserted that false complaints made by the wife against her husband amounted to mental cruelty against the man, noting that the husband and his brother were acquitted in an FIR registered by the wife with rape allegations.
The High Court said, “It cannot be overlooked that making serious allegations of not only dowry harassment but of rape against the family members of the respondent (husband) which are found to be false, is an act of extreme cruelty for which there can be no condonation.”
The High Court pointed out that the woman had filed a criminal case against her husband and brother-in-law where she made allegations of rape and cruelty. However, the trial court found both men not guilty and exonerated them of all allegations.
The bench stated that the appellant (woman) has pursued her allegations by filing an appeal against the order of acquittal which is pending in this court. However, the bench added that even though an appeal has been preferred, this does not wash out the observations of the additional sessions judge that the allegations were manipulative and false.
The court added that significantly, it has also emerged in the evidence that the appellant had consulted the lawyer before making the complaint on which FIR was registered.
The case pertains to a couple that got married in November 2012 but they have been living separately since February 2014.
The estranged husband alleged that since the day of marriage, his wife failed to discharge household duties and regularly went to her parent’s home without informing him or his family members.
He further alleged that she threatened to commit suicide and falsely implicate him and his family members and she would often pick fights and physically abuse him.
On her part, the wife had claimed that she was harassed and humiliated by her mother-in-law physically and mentally and was also beaten by her husband, however, the lower court had found her allegations to be false and manipulative.