This is the landmark judgment of Supreme Court confirming the divorce degree granted by Family Court.
The marriage between the appellant-husband and the respondent-wife was solemnized on 25/4/1999 as per Hindu rites and customs. Unfortunately, on the very next day disputes arose between the elders on both sides which resulted in their abusing each other and hurling chappals at each other. As a consequence, on 27/4/1999, the newly married couple got separated without consummation of the marriage and started living separately.
Knife filed complaint for the offence punishable under Section 324 of the IPC against the appellant-husband (C.C.No. 79/2009). It may be stated here that on 19/10/2009 the appellant-husband was acquitted in this case.
The appellant- husband was convicted under Section 498-A of the IPC and was sentenced to undergo six months simple imprisonment. He and his parents were acquitted of the offences under the Dowry Prohibition Act. His parents were acquitted of the offence under Section 498-A of the IPC. After this judgment the respondent-wife and her parents filed a complaint in the High Court saying that since the appellant-husband was convicted he should be dismissed from service. Similar letters were sent to the High Court by the maternal uncle of the respondent-wife
In Para 22,
The statement that the mother of the appellant-husband asked her to sleep with his father is bound to anger him. It is his case that this humiliation of his parents caused great anguish to him. He and his family were traumatized by the false and indecent statement made in the complaint. His grievance appears to us to be justified.
That this statement is false is evident from the evidence of the mother of the respondent-wife, which we have already quoted. This statement cannot be explained away by stating that it was made because the respondent-wife was anxious to go back to the appellant-husband. This is not the way to win the husband back. It is well settled that such statements cause mental cruelty. By sending this complaint the respondent-wife has caused mental cruelty to the appellant- husband.
In Para 23,
The conduct of the respondent- wife in filing a complaint making unfounded, indecent and defamatory allegation against her mother-in-law, in filing revision seeking enhancement of the sentence awarded to the appellant-husband, in filing appeal questioning the acquittal of the appellant-husband and acquittal of his parents indicates that she made all attempts to ensure that he and his parents are put in jail and he is removed from his job. We have no manner of doubt that this conduct has caused mental cruelty to the appellant- husband.
In Para 24,
Staying together under the same roof is not a pre-condition for mental cruelty. Spouse can cause mental cruelty by his or her conduct even while he or she is not staying under the same roof. In a given case, while staying away, a spouse can cause mental cruelty to the other spouse by sending vulgar and defamatory letters or notices or filing complaints containing indecent allegations or by initiating number of judicial proceedings making the other spouse’s life miserable.
Paras 25 and 26 talk about the death of the marriage.
the appellant-husband should be directed to pay a sum of Rs.15,00,000/- (Rupees Fifteen Lakhs only) to the respondent-wife as and by way of permanent alimony. In the result, the impugned judgment is quashed and set aside.
Directions issue by the Apex Court
a) In terms of Section 9 of the Family Courts Act, the Family Courts shall make all efforts to settle the matrimonial disputes through mediation. Even if the Counsellors submit a failure report, the Family Courts shall, with the consent of the parties, refer the matter to the mediation centre. In such a case, however, the Family Courts shall set a reasonable time limit for mediation centres to complete the process of mediation because otherwise the resolution of the disputes by the Family Court may get delayed. In a given case, if there is good chance of settlement, the Family Court in its discretion, can always extend the time limit.
b) The criminal courts dealing with the complaint under Section 498-A of the IPC should, at any stage and particularly, before they take up the complaint for hearing, refer the parties to mediation centre if they feel that there exist elements of settlement and both the parties are willing. However, they should take care to see that in this exercise, rigour, purport and efficacy of Section 498-A of the IPC is not diluted. Needless to say that the discretion to grant or not to grant bail is not in any way curtailed by this direction. It will be for the concerned court to work out the modalities taking into consideration the facts of each case.
c) All mediation centres shall set up pre-litigation desks/clinics; give them wide publicity and make efforts to settle matrimonial disputes at pre-litigation stage.
K. Srinivas Rao Vs D.A. Deepa on 22 Feb 2013
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Citations: [2013 SCC 5 226], [2013 AIOL 118], [2013 AIR SC 2176], [2013 AIR SC 1396], [2013 MHLJ SC 5 10], [2013 SUPREME 2 80], [2013 SLT 2 338], [2013 SCALE 2 735], [2013 BOMCR SC 3 129], [2013 RCR CIVIL SC 2 232], [2013 JT 3 97], [2013 MPLJ SC 3 567], [2013 SCC CIV 2 775], [2013 SCC CRI 2 963], [2013 SCC ONLINE SC 179], [2013 ALR 97 732], [2013 ALD 3 11], [2013 AIC 124 228], [2013 CHN 2 92], [2013 MAHLJ 5 102013 BLJ 3 379], [2013 DMC SC 1 458], [2013 ILR KER 1 813], [2013 JLJR 1 443], [2013 KHC 1 6472013 SCR 2 126], [2013 LW 2 883], [2013 PLR 171 149], [2013 CDR SC 1 161], [2013 AD SC 3 4582013 MLJ SC 3 852013 AWC SC 3 2462], [2013 WBLR SC 4 412], [2014 WLN SC 4 132], [2013 CGLRW 1 484], [2013 BOMCR 3 129], [2013 AIR SCW 1396], [2013 MAH LJ 5 10], [2013 MHLJ 5 10], [2013 ILR KERALA 1 813], [2013 RCR CIVIL 2 232], [2013 JT SC 3 97], [2013 MPLJ 3 567]
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