Mumbai: Observing that defaming a husband and calling him a "womaniser and alcoholic" without substantiating the allegations amounts to cruelty, the Bombay High Court has upheld a divorce granted by a family court (FC) in Pune to a couple.
A division bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and Sharmila Deshmukh observed: "The conduct of the petitioner in making unwarranted, false and baseless allegations pertaining to the respondent's character and labelling him as an alcoholic and womaniser has resulted in shredding his reputation in society."
The HC was hearing an appeal filed by the woman, 50, challenging the November 2005 order of Pune FC dissolving their marriage.
The man, a retired Army official, died pending a hearing on the appeal before the HC. However, the HC directed his legal heir to be added as a respondent.
In her appeal, the woman claimed that the husband was a womaniser and an alcoholic, and that due to these vices, she was deprived of her conjugal rights.
Judges noted that woman’s allegations damaging man's image
The judges noted that the woman’s conduct in making unwarranted and false allegations against her husband's character results in damage to his reputation in society, and this amounts to cruelty.
In such circumstances, and considering the man’s standing in society, his contention that he "could not put up" with the woman’s such conduct and continue with the matrimonial relationship "cannot be said to be unjustified," said the judges.
The court noted in the order that the woman, apart from her own statement, had not produced any evidence to substantiate her allegations.
The man’s advocate contended that the woman had caused him mental agony by making false and defamatory allegations against him.
Woman separated him from his children and grandchildren
The judges also took note of the man’s statement before the FC where he claimed that the woman separated him from his children and grandchildren.
"It is a settled position in law that 'cruelty' can broadly be defined as a conduct that inflicts upon the other party such mental pain and suffering as would make it not possible for that party to live with the other," added the HC.
The judges further noted that the man was an ex-Army man who retired as a Major, belonged to the upper strata of society and had a standing in society.
Dismissing her appeal, the court reasoned: “Considering the above, we find that the conduct of the petitioner constitutes cruelty within the meaning of Section 13 (1) (i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act.”
“The Appeal is therefore without merit and is liable to be dismissed,” it added.