Making unfounded allegations against the spouse amounts to mental cruelty, the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court observed upholding the decree of divorce granted to the wife by the family court.
A Bench of Justices AS Chandurkar and PV Ganediwala took an unfavourable view of the husband’s arguments regarding the wife obtaining false caste certificate and suffering from epilepsy which it concluded were without basis.
“This conduct of the husband of not pleading that the wife was suffering from epilepsy and stating the same for the first time in his deposition as well as making wild allegations that the wife and her relatives had secured false caste certificate without attempting to substantiate the said allegations has resulted in causing mental cruelty to the wife, the order reads,” the Court held.
Making of unfounded allegations against the spouse or his/her relatives or making complaints with a view to affect the job of the spouse amounts to causing mental cruelty to the said spouse, the Court added.
The wife in this case had moved the family court at Nagpur for divorce on the ground of cruelty and desertion claiming she had been ill-treated by the husband and his family and driven out of the house after they took her gold ornaments and articles.
The husband denied these allegations contending that his wife and her family members had obtained spurious caste certificates belonging to ‘Rajput Bhamta’ for securing employment.
After perusing the evidence, the family court held that the wife was able to prove the allegation of cruelty but not desertion. Accordingly, a decree for divorce was passed on the ground of cruelty.
The husband challenged the decree claiming that the allegation of cruelty was not proved by the wife.
Referring to the evidence, he contended “that except normal wear and tear of marital life there was no substantial evidence brought on record by the respondent to prove the ground of cruelty.”
The husband further claimed that the wife suffered from epilepsy and this fact was not disclosed by the family members before their marriage. The documentary evidence to that regard was also placed on record.
The wife opposed reiterating that the cruelty meted to her was not merely physical but also mental.
She added that the allegations that she suffered from epilepsy and that her family had procured false caste certificates for securing employment were not proved.
Such unsubstantiated false allegations resulted in mental cruelty and were rightly considered by the family court while allowing divorce, it was argued.
The Court noted that there were no pleadings by the husband to the effect that the wife was suffering from epilepsy. This was raised for first time during his deposition, the Court observed.
“In absence of any pleading in this regard by the husband, there was no occasion for the wife to counter this allegation that she was suffering from epilepsy,” the Court said.
The Court also noted that during his cross-examination the husband admitted to having filed various complaints about the false caste certificate at the office where the wife was employed. He had made allegations, but he had not substantiated those allegations by leading any evidence.
The High Court concluded that based on the unsubstantiated allegations the conduct of the husband caused mental cruelty to his wife.
“It appears from the conduct of the husband that in one way or the other he intended to prejudice the service of the wife. The finding recorded by the learned Judge of the Family Court that the behaviour and the conduct of the husband of making wild and unsubstantiated allegations resulted in causing mental cruelty to the wife does not deserve to be interfered with,” it concluded.