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False allegations of impotency against husband is cruelty

A false allegation of impotency against the husband amounts to cruelty, the Delhi High court held.[1]

A Bench comprising of Honorable Justice Manmohan and Justice Sanjeev Narula while dealing with an appeal preferred by the wife (Appellant) against an order of the family court allowing the husband's (Respondent) petition for grant of divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955[2] (hereinafter, the HMA).

The family court had rejected the plea to declare the marriage void under Section 12 of the HMA. Before the family court the wife had inter alia pleaded that the respondent was suffering from impotency (erectile dysfunction) due to which the marriage had remained non-consummated. The relief for divorce was sought after the allegations were made in the written statement.
Before the High court the appellant sought the setting aside of divorce order and prayed for her petition on restitution of conjugal rights to be heard. She argued that she wanted to save the matrimonial alliance.

The respondent contended that false and malicious allegations made against him in the written submissions amounted to cruelty and that nobody with a sense of self-respect would like to continue in a matrimonial alliance with such a woman.

The High court noted that the allegation of the appellant was rejected by the family court on basis of the testimony of an expert who on physical examination of the respondent found him to be a normal male adult without any problem of impotency.

The court held that such a false allegation amounts to nothing but cruelty.

It is true that cruelty has not been defined in the HMA. It can be physical or mental. It is primarily contextual, pertaining to human behaviour or conduct with respect to matrimonial duties and obligations. It is therefore, essential to see whether the conduct of the party is of such a nature, that a reasonable person would neither tolerate the same, nor be reasonably expected to live with the other party., the court held.[3]

The court refused to accept the contention of the wife that the allegation of impotency was only in the nature of counter-allegations. The court further held:
The averments made by a party in its pleadings before a Court of law have to be given due sanctity and have to be treated with seriousness. These allegations made in the pleadings are brought in the public domain and the Court is expected to give its verdict on the basis of the allegations and the counter-allegations made by the parties. No party can be excused of recklessness in allegations made before the Court of law.

This decision of the Honorable Delhi High court comes at a time when false and malicious allegations by the women on the husband and his family under the garb women-centric family laws are very common nowadays. Section 498A is a classic example of how a law can be misused by women to satisfy personal vendetta. The Supreme Court of India has held that misuse of Section 498A is legal terrorism.[4] Similar plea was raised before the Supreme Court in 2017 for issuing directions to stop such misuse.[5]

Such a judgment will go a long way that doesn't blindly weigh in favour of the woman and gives a reasoned order punishing the woman for filing frivolous cases with mala fide intentions devoid of any merit whatsoever.

End-Notes:
  1. Kirti Nagpal v. Rohit Girdhar, MAT.APP.(F.C.) 92/2020 and CM APPLs. 14842-14843/2020, Delhi High Court, delivered on November 20, 2020.
  2. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, No. 25, Acts of Parliament, 1955 (India).
  3. Supra Note 1.
  4. Sushil Kumar Sharma v. Union of India, (2005) 6 S.C.C. 281 (India).
  5. Rajesh Sharma v. The State of Uttar Pradesh, 2017 (8) SCALE 313 (India).
Written By: Syed Aatif - The author is a practicing advocate at the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Delhi High Court and Supreme Court of India.
Email: [email protected]

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