Is Mental Cruelty a ground for divorce?
It is easy to know or interpret whether a victim has undergone physical cruelty
or not. But the wound of mental cruelty could not be seen through naked eyes
easily as it is always next to impossible to read the mind of the person. Most
of the time it happens that the victim who undergo mental cruelty unwillingly
live with the other party as he/she finds it difficult to prove mental cruelty
before the court of which he/she is subjected to.
In reality it has much deeper impact on the lives of victim than physical
cruelty but seems to be much neglected one.
In this article I will talk about mental cruelty, who all can avail the ground
of mental cruelty for seeking divorce, ways and means to prove mental cruelty,
can denial to have sexual intercourse also constitute mental cruelty.
What is mental cruelty?
The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (HMA) has specified certain grounds required for
the plea of divorce. Cruelty as a ground for divorce was inserted after a
Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act, 1976. It states that decree of divorce can be
obtained by the either spouse if one spouse has treated the other with cruelty.
However, the word cruelty has not been defined anywhere in the Hindu Marriage
Act, 1955 yet as it is next to impossible to give one precise definition.
Mental cruelty is a course of conduct on the part of one spouse which can
endanger the mental health and cause apprehension in the mind of the other
spouse to such an extent as to be injurious for him or her to further continue
What all are considered as mental cruelty?
It is a subjective matter and usually depends on one's capability to tolerate
such situation and carry on their relationship. Therefore, categories of mental
cruelty are not closed. New categories arise in each case. Judicial
interpretation plays a significant role. It is dealt according to the
circumstances of that particular case. The Supreme Court in the case of Samar
Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh, 2007
has listed down certain illustrations of mental
Few of them are listed below:
- Severe mental pain, disappointment, frustration making it impossible for
the other party to further continue matrimonial relationship would
constitute mental cruelty.
- The appellant must be subjected to mental cruelty continuously for a
- The behavior of other spouse must cause apprehension in the mind of
appellant. It must be grave and weighty
- Mere annoyance doesn't constitute cruelty.
- Abortion without the consent of appellant and sterilization without any
medical reason may also constitute mental cruelty
- Denial to have sexual intercourse after marriage for a considerable
period even with the physical capacity to have sexual intercourse amounts to
- Separation for long considerably longer period
This is not an exhaustive list. The courts in a series of judgments have given
different definition and added various categories of mental cruelty depending
upon the facts and circumstances of the case. Demand for dowry, act affecting
reputation of either party or also making unfounded allegations constitute
Who can seek for divorce on the ground of cruelty?
Either of the spouses can seek the decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty
that is to say the ground is available for both husband and wife and both can
file a case against the other.
Divorce case is dealt in which court?
Generally, divorce petition is filed in the district court or family court where
either of the partners resides. Later, the party not satisfied with the verdict
of the family court can file appeal petition in the High Court and then in the
Supreme Court if necessary.
What does an individual need to prove to get a decree of divorce on the ground
of mental cruelty?
Cruelty is usually seen from the eyes of reasonable person after considering the
temperament and ability to endure the acts and behavior of other. The appellant
must present evidences of such a nature that corroborates the allegation placed.
As usual for any divorce petition one needs to prove that he or she cannot live
with other spouse any further.
- The per-requisite of fault theory is to show that the other party
(appellant) is totally innocent.
- The appellant needs to prove further continuance of matrimonial
relationship is harmful for the mental health along with the physical health
of the appellant.
The party seeking divorce on the ground of cruelty can submit audio, video or
written evidences. One can also back their allegation by presenting
eye-witnesses before the court.
Important points to remember
Written By: Prerna Prasad
- Intention of the other party is immaterial:
Despite no intention to
cause cruelty if the act caused mental cruelty on the other spouse, the
aggrieved party can file divorce petition and decree of divorce can be granted.
- Wife working against the will of her husband does not amount to cruelty.
For more information feel free to mail at: [email protected]
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