Allegations by highly educated spouse damaging reputation, career of partner amounts to mental cruelty entitling grant of divorce

Allegations by highly educated spouse damaging reputation, career of partner amounts to mental cruelty entitling grant of divorce

Joydeep Majumdar Vs Bharti Majumdar

Supreme Court

26/02/2021

CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 3786-3787 OF 2020

About/from the judgment:

The Supreme Court allowed the plea for divorce by the husband who had alleged that his wife had written letters to his superiors in army which led to an inquiry against him and sullied his reputation.

Allegations by a highly educated spouse against the other leading to an irreparable damage to his career and reputation would fall within the realm of mental cruelty for grant of divorce, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday allowing the prayer for divorce by an army officer.

The judgment was rendered on a plea by the army officer (appellant/ husband) claiming that his wife, in seeking restitution of conjugal rights, had written letters to his superiors in army which led to an inquiry against him and sullied his reputation.

The couple after marriage had lived together briefly and then started living separately. Meanwhile the husband filed for dissolution of marriage in a family court on the grounds of mental cruelty. The wife was alleged to have written letters to the army and state commission of women against the husband.

After the Family court granted divorce, the Uttarakhand High Court on appeal set aside the decree of divorce and ordered restitution of conjugal rights. The husband then moved Supreme Court in appeal.

The Supreme Court said that for considering dissolution of marriage at the instance of a spouse who allege mental cruelty, the result of such mental cruelty must be such that it is not possible to continue with the matrimonial relationship.

The top court noted that the wife had made several defamatory complaints to the appellant’s superiors in the army for which, a court of inquiry was held by the army authorities against the appellant. The appellant’s career progress got affected due to the same, the Court added.

"When the appellant has suffered adverse consequences in his life and career on account of the allegations made by the respondent, the legal consequences must follow and those cannot be prevented only because, no Court has determined that the allegations were false," the Supreme Court said.

On the issue of mental cruelty, the Court opined that the allegations were levelled by a highly educated spouse and they do have the propensity to irreparably damage the character and reputation of the appellant.

"When the reputation of the spouse is sullied amongst his colleagues, his superiors and the society at large, it would be difficult to expect condonation of such conduct by the affected party," the top court stated.

The High Court was, therefore, in error in describing the broken relationship as normal wear and tear of middle class married life, the apex court ruled.

"It is a definite case of cruelty inflicted by the respondent against the appellant and as such enough justification is found to set aside the impugned judgment of the High Court and to restore the order passed by the Family Court," the Court said granting the decree of dissolution of marriage.

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