Individual Instance of Misbehaviour seen in Isolation would not be Sufficient to Establish Mental Cruelty
Ramchander v. Ananta [(2015) 11 SCC 539]-
In this case the marriage between the appellant and the respondent was solemnized on 2 April, 1994 and a male child was born from the wedlock. After three years of marriage, the respondent wife started living separately and upon legal notice sent by the appellant she returned back to her matrimonial home. But again, in March, 2003 she left her matrimonial home and started living with her parents and has not come back sine. The husband filed for divorce on the grounds of desertion and cruelty. He alleged that immediately after marriage, the respondent started behaving harshly and used to humiliate him by calling names and by other acts. The Family Court on consideration of evidences granted decree of divorce but the respondent filed an appeal to High Court and the High Court set aside the decree of divorce granted to the appellant. Aggrieved by the same, the appellant husband moved to Hon’ble Supreme Court stating that the High Court has failed to appreciate the cumulative instances of cruelty but considered every instances separately and held that each instance by itself would not entitle the husband to a decree for divorce. The issue of the case is whether the instances of cruelty taken in isolation are right?
It is settled law that the instances of cruelty are not to be taken in isolation as it is obvious that often individual instances of misbehaviour seen in isolation are not sufficient to establish cruelty. Instances of cruelty are to be considered in cumulative effect of facts and circumstances and then only it would be possible to see if the appellant has been subjected to cruelty due to conduct of the other spouse or not. In the present case, the appellant provided the Court with many instances of Cruelty by his wife like- calling the husband names and even their son; she did not want to leave with her husband’s family and forced him to live separately with her in rented house; because of the rude behaviour of respondent with the landlord and neighbours the appellant have to vacate the rented house thrice; refusing to perform any household chores; refusing to take care of their minor child and accusing the husband of having extra marital affairs. But the High Court took each of the instances into consideration separately and failed to observe the anguish that is caused to appellant by these acts of respondent.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that the conduct of the respondent caused mental suffering and pain to the appellant and High Court have saw each instance separately and it’s obvious that only one incident would not be able to show the pain and suffering of the appellant and if the conduct of respondent is taken into consideration cumulatively it would be able show that the appellant had been subjected to the mental cruelty. All these acts of respondent would amount to mental cruelty.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India held in this case that the term ‘cruelty’ as defined in various cases is not exhaustive. It is only illustrative. The individual instance of misbehaviour seen in isolation would not be sufficient to establish mental cruelty so, it is settled law that the instances of cruelty are not to be taken in isolation but to take the cumulative effect of the facts and circumstances emerging from the evidence on record and then draw a fair inference whether the appellant has been subjected to the mental cruelty by the conduct of other or not. On the basis of this the Court stated that conduct of the wife would amount to mental cruelty and granted decree of divorce to the appellant.
Authored By: Adv. Anant Sharma & Anjali Swami