|Name of the case||Dr. (Mrs.) Malathi Ravi v. Dr. B. V. Ravi|
|Citation||(2014) 7SCC 640|
|Appellant||Dr. (Mrs.) MalathiRavi|
|Respondent||Dr. B. V. Ravi|
|Year of judgment||2014|
|Important Sections||Section 13(1)(1-a), Section 13(1)(1-b), Section 13, Section 25 of Hindu law, and Article 136 and 142 of the Indian Constitution.|
|Bench/ judges||Dipak Mishra, S. J. Mukhopadhaya|
For every person, Marriage marks the introduction of the family. It is a life-long responsibility that expands your borders and the objective of presence on this earth. It gives you a chance to be selfless as you will have to now take care of your partner and children. Marriage is not just a physical union. It is also a spiritual as well as emotional relationship. Hence you will find a kind of fulfillment when you get married. When two people get married, they become one. Marriage is a special commitment to nothing else on the earth. It brings you your life’s partner and a teammate to move together in comradeship facing the challenges, excitements, difficulties, wonders, and anxieties of life. Finally, now you have got someone to share your life with. But if that bond becomes weak and occurs various misunderstandings because of which that bond starts breaking and turned into judicial separation or divorce.
As said before that, Marriage as a common foundation is an affirmance of civilized social decree where two people are eligible of entering into marriage and have taken pledge themselves to the institutional standards and values and promised to each other a strong bond to maintain and maintain the married responsibility. It stands as a manifestation of the continuation of the human race. Despite the pledge and promises, on certain circumstances, personal incompatibilities, attitudinal disparities based upon arrogant awareness of situations, maladjustment happening or the tendency for non-adjustment or rejection for adjustment gets eminently cast that obliges both the partners to take unbearable positions evacuating personal obligation, the proneness of affirming supremacy complex, deception of trust which is the cornerstone of life, and sometimes a perverted feeling of retaliation, awful sustenance, or a mere sense of covetousness bring the smashes in the marriage when either both the partners or one of the partners wants for the abolition of marriage – freedom from the institutional and personal bond. The case at hand inaugurated by the husband for the abolition of marriage was viewed from a different viewpoint by the learned Family Court Judge who refused to grant a divorce as the fact of desertion as requisite in law was not proved but the High Court, deeming certain facts and taking note of following events for which the appellant was found accountable, granted a divorce. The High Court anticipated the acts of the appellant as a reflection of the attitude of revenge in marriage for restitution of marriage. The justifiability of the said examination within the parameters of Section 13(1) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 of the subject-matter of assail in this plea, by special leave, wherein the judgment and decree dated 11/09/2009 passed by the High Court of Karnataka reversing the decree for restitution of conjugal rights permitted in favor of the wife and enacting a decree for the abolition of marriage by way of divorce authorizing the petition selected by the respondent-husband.
Facts of the Case
The respondent-husband, an Associate Professor in Ambedkar Medical College, Kadugondanahalli, Bangalore, filed a petition, M.S. No. 5 of 2001 under Section 13(1) the Act pursuing a statute for judicial separation and abolition of marriage. However, in course of the proceeding, the petition was modified evacuating the request for judicial separation and modifying the petition to one under Section 13(1)(i-b) of the Act attempting abolition of marriage by way of divorce.
In the petition filed before the Family court, it was averred by the respondent-husband that the marriage between the parties was done in accordance with Hindu Rituals and traditions on 23/11/1994. After the marriage, the husband and wife lived together for one and a half years in the house of the husband’s father but from the very first day the appellant-wife was non-cooperative, aggressive and her behavior towards the family members of the husband was inappropriate. Despite the misinterpretation, a male child was born in the marriage and after that, she took the child and left the house and chose not to come back to the husband or his family for a period of three years. It was contended that there had been a marital conflict and total non-compatibility, and she had abandoned him breaking all relations. It was also alleged that she had left the tender child in the custody of her parents and joined a post-graduate course in the Medical College of Gulbarga. All the efforts made by the husband to bring her back to the home become an exercise in futility in as much as the letters were written by him were never answered. Despite the non-responsive attitude of the wife, he, without evacuating the hope for reconciliation for directing a normal married life, went to the house of his in-laws, but her parents ill-treated him by forcibly throwing him out of the house.
It was the contention of the husband that after she completed her course, she started staying with her parents along with the child at Bangalore, and neither he nor his family members were invited for the naming giving ceremony of the child. As ahead, the conduct of the wife caused enormous mental hurt and injury, and he endured severe mental suffering when the family members of his wife abused and ill-treated him while he had gone to reconcile her and bring her back to the matrimonial home. All his solicitations and beseechments through letters to have normality went in vain which obliged him to issue a notice through his counsel but she chose not to respond to the same. Under these situations, the petition was filed for judicial separation, and thereafter, as has been stated earlier, the request was revised pursuing abolition of marriage on the ground of abandonment since she had gradually withdrawn from his society.
The wife filed complaints contending, that when she was living in the matrimonial home, the sister and brother-in-law of the husband, who stayed in the opposite house, were regular visitors and their interference influenced the normal stream of life of the couple. They influenced the husband that he should not allow his wife to continue her studies and be kept at home as an unpaid servant of the house. The husband, as defended, was ripped in conflict as he could not treat the wife in the manner by which his sister and brother-in-law had wished and also could not openly express opposition. At that moment, as she was in the family way, as per the traditions, she came to her parental home and by the time the child was born the sister and brother-in-law had been successful in contaminating the mind of the husband as a result of which neither he nor his relatives, though properly asked, did not turn up for the naming ceremony. All her attempts to come back to the matrimonial home did not produce any result since the husband was acting under the ill-advice of his sister and brother-in-law. It was put forth that he had without any adequate cause or excuse refused to perform his marital obligations. The plea of mental hurt and injury was controverted on the contention that she had never dealt with him with cruelty nor was he summarily thrown out of the house of her parents.
Be it stated, the wife in the same petition filed a request under Section 9 of the Act for restitution of conjugal rights to which an objection was filed by the husband stating, that no case had been made out for compensation of conjugal rights but, on the contrary, annoying allegations had been made. It was further revealed that the wife had abandoned him for more than five years and she had been victimizing him constantly and invariably.
In support of their respective pleas the husband and wife filed information by way of affidavit and were cross-examined at length by the other side. On behalf of the husband, 12 documents were exhibited as P-1 to P-12 and the wife examined one witness and exhibited four documents, R-1 to R-4.
Issues of the Case
- Whether the petitioner proves that the respondent assaulted him for a continuous period of not less than 2 years immediately proceeding the presentation of the petition?
- Whether the respondent proves that the petitioner without reasonable excuse withdrawn from the society?
- Whether the petitioner is entitled to a decree of divorce as prayed for?
- Whether the respondent is entitled to a decree of restitution of conjugal right as prayed for?
The learned Principal Judge of the family court, understanding the oral and documentary evidence on record came to hold that the material on history gave an opinion that there was no clash between the husband and the wifethat even after the birth of the child the husband and his family members used to visit the wife at her parental home to see the childthat there was no material on record to show that when he went to his in-laws house to see the child, he was ill-treated in any mannerthat after the child was born he had taken the child along with her for vaccination and spent sometimethat though the husband and his relatives were asked for naming procession of the child, they chose not to visit that the husband was able to understand his son from the photograph in R-2; that the plea of the husband that he was not supposed to see the child did not deserve acceptation that the situations did not organize that wife had any intention to bring the conjugal relationship to an end but, on the opposite, she was residing in her parents’ house for delivery and then had to remain at Gulbarga for litigating her higher studies that while she was studying at Gulbarga, as is obvious from R-4, the husband waited there for two days, 27/5/1999 and 28/5/1999 that from the letters vide P-3, P-7, P-9 and P-11 nothing was noticeable to the effect that the wife went to Gulbarga for her studies without his consent and she had abandoned him that the husband had not divulged from what date he stopped visiting the house of the wife’s parents after the birth of the child that the letters written by the husband did not reflect the non-cooperative conduct of the wife that there was no enoughproof to come to a definite conclusion that the wife had abandoned the husband with an intention to bring the matrimonial relationship to an end; that assuming there was abandonment yet the same was not for a continuous period of two years immediately coming before the presentation of the petitionthat the husband only wrote letters after 15/09/1999 and nothing had been brought on record to show what steps he had taken for resumption of marital relations with the wife if she had abandonedhim that the wife was not enabled to come back to the matrimonial home because of intervention of his sister and brother-in-law; that the explanation given by the wife to her non-response to the letters was that when she was thinking to reply the petition had already been filed was reasonable that as the husband was working at Ambedkar Medical College in the Department of Biochemistry and wife had joined in the Department of Pathology which would show that she was willing to join the husband to lead a normal marital life and that it was the husband who had revoked from the society of the wife without any adequate cause. Being of this view, the learned Family Judge rejected the application for divorce and allowed the application of the wife filed under Section 23(a) read with Section 9 of the Act for restitution of conjugal rights.
After the said judgment and declaration was passed by the learned Family Judge, the respondent did not prefer an appeal immediately. He waited for the wife to join and for the said purpose he wrote letters to her and as there was no response, he sent a notice through his adviser. The wife, finally, joined on 22/8/2004 at the matrimonial house being attended by her relative who was working in the Police Department. As the turn of events would uncertain, the wife lodged an FIR No. 401/2004 dated 17/10/2004 at Basaveshwaranagar declaring demand of dowry against the husband, mother and sister as a consequence of which the husband was arrested being an accused of the offenses under Section 498A and 506 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code and also under the requirements of Dowry Prohibition Act. He remained in custody for a day until he was expanded on bail. His parents were compelled to hide and moved an application under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and, ultimately, availed the benefit of said provision. After all these events took place, the husband wanted an appeal along with the application for condonation of delay before the High Court. The High Court accepted the delay, took note of the grounds exhorted in the memorandum of appeal, understood the subsequent events that reflected the conduct of the wife and opined that the attitude of the wife confirmed that she never had the intention of leading a normal married life with the husband and she wanted to stay separately with the husband and enact terms which had hurt his feelings. The High Court further concluded that the husband had made efforts to go to Gulbarga on many occasions, tried to assure the wife to come back to the matrimonial home, but all his diligent efforts met with unhappy failure. As the impugned judgment would reflect, the behavior of the wife ascertained that she gradually stayed away from the marital home and deliberately caused mental agony by putting the husband and his family to go through criminal litigation. That apart, the High Court took the long separation into account and, accordingly, devote the judgment and decree for compensation of conjugal rights and passed a decree for the abolition of marriage between the parties.
It is his further submission that the High Court has opined that the marriage between the parties had irretrievably been broken and, therefore, it was requisite to grant a decree for the abolition of marriage by divorce which cannot be a ground for grant of divorce. Learned counsel has placed dependence on the decisions in Lachman Utamchand Kirpalani v. Meena @ Mota, K. Narayanan v. K. Sreedevi, Mohinder Singh v. Harbens Kaur and Smt. Indira Gangele v. Shailendra Kumar Gangele.
The High Court has taken note of all these facets and held that the wife has no motive to lead a normal marital life. That apart, the High Court has returned a finding that the marriage has irretrievably been broken down. Of course, such an observation has been made on the ground of conduct. This Court in certain cases, namely, G.V.N. Kameswara Rao v. G. Jabilli, Parveen Mehta v. Inderjit Mehta, Vijayakumar R. Bhate v. Neela Vijayakumar Bhate, Durga Prasanna Tripathy v. Arundhati Tripathy.
For the present, we shall prohibit our tracing to the issue of whether the previous acts would constitute mental brutality. We have already referred to a few authorities to indicate what the concept of mental cruelty means. Mental cruelty and its effect cannot be stated with arithmetical exactitude. It varies from individual to individual, from society to society and also depends on the status of the persons. What would be mental cruelty in the life of two individuals belonging to particular strata of the society may not amount to mental cruelty in respect of another couple belonging to a different stratum of society. The agonized feeling or for that matter a sense of disappointment can take place by certain acts causing a grievous dent at the mental level. The inference has to be drawn from the attending circumstances. As we have computed the incidents, we are disposed to think that the husband has reasons to feel that he has been embarrassed, for announcements have been made against him which are not correct his relatives have been pulled into the matrimonial discussion, the contentions in the written statement portray him as if he had tacitly conceded to have harbored notions of gender insensitivity of some kind of male nationalism, his parents and he are ignored in the naming ceremony of the son, and he comes to learn from others that the wife had gone to Gulbarga to prosecute her studies.
That apart, the communications, after the ruling for restitution of conjugal rights, indicate the attitude of the wife as if she is playing a game of Chess. The launching of criminal prosecution can be anticipated from the spectrum of conduct. The learned Magistrate has recorded the judgment of acquittal. The wife had preferred an appeal before the High Court after obtaining leave. After the State Government prefers an appeal in the Court of Session, she chooses to withdraw the appeal. But she intends, as the pleadings would show, that the case should reach the logical conclusion. This conduct manifestly shows the widening of the rift between the parties. It has only increased the bitterness. In such a situation, the husband is likely to lament in every breath and the vibrancy of life melts to give way to a sad story of life. From this kind of attitude and treatment, it can be inferred that the husband has been treated with mental cruelty and definitely he has faced ignominy being an Associate Professor in a Government Medical College. When one enjoys social status working in a Government hospital. The High Court, while granting a decree for divorce should have adverted to it. However, we do not think it appropriate to keep anything alive in this regard between the parties. The controversy is to be put to rest on this score also. Considering the totality of circumstances, the status the appellant enjoys and the strata to which the parties belong, it becomes the bounden duty of the respondent to provide for maintenance and education for the son who is sixteen years old. As per the terms of concession para 5 clause (i) petitioner has deposited Rs.3,00,000/- in the name of a minor child in Karnataka Bank, copy of fixed deposit receipt and R.D. Account passbook are filed along with memo. Hence petition is allowed in terms of the concession. Memorandum of settlement shall be a part of the decree.’ Learned counsel for the respondent would submit that the amount has been settled. Though there has been a settlement of Rs.3,00,000/- yet that was at a different time and under different circumstances. The present appeal was pending. The duty of this Court is to see that the young son born in the marriage must get reasonable comfort as well as proper schooling. It is the duty of the Court also to see that a minor son should not live in disturbance or should be compelled of requisite modern education. We are conscious, the appellant is earning but that does not necessarily mean that the father should be exempted from his liability. Regard being had to the social status and strata and the concept of effective availing of education we fix a sum of Rs.25,00,000/- excluding the amount already paid towards the maintenance and education of the son. The said amount shall be deposited by the respondent within a period of six months before the learned Principal Judge, Family Court at Bangalore and the amount shall be kept in a fixed deposit in a nationalized bank in the joint account of the appellant and the minor son so that she can draw quarterly interest and expend on her son. After the son attains the majority the joint account shall continue and they would be at liberty to draw the amount for the education or any urgent need of the son. With the aforesaid directions, we affirm the decree for divorce passed by the High Court. The appeal stands disposed of accordingly but without any order as to costs.
AIR 1964 SC 40.
AIR 1990 Ker 151.
AIR 1992 P&H 2.
AIR 1993 MP 59.
(2002) 2 SCC 296.
(2002) 5 SCC 706.
(2003) 6 SCC 334.
(2005) 7 SCC 353.
Q1. In which year the judgment is passed?
Q2. How many pages of documents have been submitted by husband and wife?
Husband has submitted 12 pages of documents and wife has submitted four pages of documents
Q3. Is the wife have the intention to live a normal married life?
No, from the above contentions and facts it was clear that wide has no intention to live a normal married life, she wants to separate from her husband.
Q4. How much compensation was given to the wife after a divorce?
As settlement 3,00,000 Rs.were give to the wife.
Q5. Name the benches/ judges of the case?
Dipak Mishra and S.J. Mukhopadhaya.