Cruelty implies ‘harsh and harmful’ conduct with certain intensity and persistence. It covers acts causing both physical and mental agony and torture or tyranny .
Mumbai : The Bombay High Court has held that ordinary tantrums of either the husband or a wife and also ordinary differences in domestic life cannot amount to cruelty.
The observation was made by a single-judge bench of Justice Anant Badar while hearing an application moved by one Neeraj Mehta, who has been convicted by a trial court for abetting the suicide of his wife and subjecting her to cruelty.
A trial court had punished Mehta with rigorous imprisonment for 13 years. He had accordingly challenged his conviction by contending that the evidence against him was “lacunae” and insufficient to hold him guilty of all the charges.
According to the prosecution, the dispute was over the issue of the deceased wife having made “Kaccha Chapati” which was too ‘trivial’ matter to invoke extreme and harsh response of her in-laws calling her brother and parents to their home.
After hearing the submissions advanced, Justice Badar said, “Prima facie, this discloses hyper sensitivity of a wife, and ordinary petulance and discord in matrimonial life. This incident cannot be said to satisfy the requirement of ingredients of offence of cruelty.”
Subsequently, Justice Badar said, “Cruelty implies ‘harsh and harmful’ conduct with certain intensity and persistence. It covers acts causing both physical and mental agony and torture or tyranny and harm as well as unending accusations and recrimination reflecting bitterness putting the victim thereof to intense miscarry.”
Justice Badar also said that in order to prove the guilt of an individual, the conduct must be such as ‘strongly’ stirring up the feeling in the mind of a married woman that life is now not worth living and she should die, being the only option left.
In his order, Justice Badar said, “A willful conduct of such a nature as is likely to propel or compel a married woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to her life is required to be established.”
“Ordinary petulance and discord or differences in domestic life does not amount to cruelty,” Justice Badar held. Accordingly, Mehta was granted a temporary bail on the surety of Rs 15,000.