Filing of criminal case & acquittal therein cannot be treated as ground for granting divorce of it was not the basis for seeking divorce

Mangayakarasi Vs M Yuvaraj

Supreme Court

03/03/2020

CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 1912­1913 OF 2020

About/from the judgment:

The Supreme Court has observed that filing of a criminal case by one of the parties to the marriage and the acquittal therein cannot be automatically treated as a ground for granting divorce if such a ground is not raised in the divorce petition.

 

The court observed thus while considering an appeal against the High Court judgment which (allowing the second appeal) granted divorce to a man on the ground that the complaint filed by the wife against him resulted in acquittal, even though such a ground was not the basis of the divorce plea.

 

The Court noted that the divorce plea contained only an allegation about the wife using filthy language in the presence of the relatives and friends and also using such language in the presence of the students of the husband. The Court said:

 

"as on the date when the cause of action had arisen for the husband who initiated the proceedings seeking dissolution of the marriage, the criminal case filed against him was not the basis whereby a ground was raised of causing mental cruelty by filing such criminal complaint. If that be the position, a situation which was not the basis for initiating the petition for dissolution of marriage and when that was also not an issue before the Trial Court so as to tender evidence and a decision be taken, the High Court was not justified in raising the same as a substantial question of law and arriving at its conclusion in that regard"

 

Disagreeing with the High Court view, the bench said:

 

The tenor of the substantial questions of law as framed in the instant case and decision taken on that basis if approved, it would lead to a situation that in every case if a criminal case is filed by one of the parties to the marriage and the acquittal therein would have to be automatically treated as a ground for granting divorce which will be against the statutory provision. It cannot be in doubt that in an appropriate case the unsubstantiated allegation of dowry demand or such other allegation has been made and the husband and his family members are exposed to criminal litigation and ultimately if it is found that such allegation is unwarranted and without basis and if that act of the wife itself forms the basis for the husband to allege that mental cruelty has been inflicted on him, certainly, in such circumstance if a petition for dissolution of marriage is filed on that ground and evidence is tendered before the original court to allege mental cruelty it could well be appreciated for the purpose of dissolving the marriage on that ground. However, in the present facts as already indicated, the situation is not so. Though a criminal complaint had been lodged by the wife and husband has been acquitted in the said proceedings the basis on which the husband had approached the Trial Court is not of alleging mental cruelty in that regard but with regard to her intemperate behaviour regarding which both the courts below on appreciation of the evidence had arrived at the conclusion that the same was not proved. :

 

The bench also refused to invoke Article 142 powers to dissolve the marriage observing thus:

 

In a matter where the differences between the parties are not of such magnitude and is in the nature of the usual wear and tear of marital life, the future of the child and her marital prospects are also to be kept in view, and in such circumstance the dissolution of marriage merely because they have been litigating and they have been residing separately for quite some time would not be justified in the present facts, more particularly when the restitution of conjugal rights was also considered simultaneously.

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