Unilateral Decision of Wife not to have Child is Cruelty to Husband
Samar Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh [(2007) 4 SCC 511]
The facts of the case are that the appellant approached the Hon’ble Supreme Court praying for decree of divorce. The marriage between the appellant namely Samar Ghosh and the respondent namely Jaya Ghosh was solemnized in 1984 and the respondent was divorced and had a female child from her first marriage. The appellant stated that immediately after marriage the respondent asked the appellant to not to interfere in her career and had also unilaterally decided that she would not give birth to a child and the appellant should try to keep himself aloof from her. This behaviour of the respondent continued and the appellant realized that the marriage was merely an eyewash as the respondent was overtly indifferent to him and he felt like a stranger in his own family. The appellant finally approached the trial court and prayed for dissolution of marriage on the grounds of cruelty and desertion. On these grounds after examining the evidence, the trial court granted the decree of divorce but the High Court reversed this judgement of the Trial Court. So, the appellant moved to the Supreme Court with his appeal for divorce. The issue of the case is whether the appellant was subjected to mental cruelty or not?
The appellant stated that the High Court had failed to appreciate the evidence provided by him and set aside the decree of divorce granted to him not giving importance to the mental cruelty he had been subjected to. The appellant stated that there are many instances of cruelty against him and he also has provided evidence to prove them and hence he should be entitled to claim divorce on the ground of mental cruelty. The appellant stated that respondent’s refusal to cohabit with him; unilaterally declaring to not have a child after marriage without providing with any reasons; the act of respondent only cooking for herself and that caused the appellant to eat out or cook his own meals have caused mental pain and suffering to the appellant. The Trial Court appreciated the evidence provided and granted the decree of divorce but an appeal was made by the respondent and the High Court set aside the order of Trial Court stating that the appellant had not been able to prove the allegations of mental cruelty.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court noticed that the High Court had failed to appreciate the evidence. The word ‘cruelty’ has no comprehensive definition. It means that if by the act or conduct of any spouse the other spouse suffered mental pain and injury or the act caused apprehension in the mind of the other that he/she will not be able to live with his/her spouse or it would be harmful to live with that person. This would all amount to mental cruelty. In the present case, the appellant had been subjected to mental cruelty.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the present case held that the term ‘cruelty’ as defined in various cases is not exhaustive. It is only illustrative. In this case the Supreme Court enumerated various events of cruelty. The concept of mental cruelty cannot remain static and in the present case unilateral declaration to not have a child after marriage without providing with any reasons by the respondent wife is one of those enumerated examples of mental cruelty. It was held in the case that the appellant had been subjected to mental cruelty by the wife and the decision of the High Court to set aside the decree of divorce granted by the Trial Court was wrong.
Authored By: Adv. Anant Sharma & Anjali Swami