Matrimonial matters are matters of delicate human and emotional relationship. It
demands mutual trust, regard, respect, love and affection with sufficient play
for reasonable adjustments with the spouse. The relationship has to conform to
the social norms as well. The matrimonial conduct has now come to be governed by
statute framed, keeping in view such norms and changed social order.`
In this project I am going to deal with various aspects which are relevant for
making any divorce but go in detail with one basis i.e. cruelty, that how Indian
Hindu Law provide legal backup for this and what would be the consequences
related to it. I will go with certain points like the legal provisions and basis
for divorce under Hindu Law, some cases which will help us to understand the
topic correctly. On basis of this I am going to form the conclusion and some
opinions on basis of personal experiences in the H.C. during my internship that
I have seen when judges were dealing with different divorce cases. I put a small
bibliography also, from where I have taken help for my project report.
What Is Cruelty
Every matrimonial conduct, which may cause annoyance to the other, may not
amount to cruelty. Mere trivial irritations, quarrels between spouses, which
happen in day-to-day married life, may also not amount to cruelty. Cruelty in
matrimonial life may be of unfounded variety, which can be subtle or brutal. It
may be words, gestures or by mere silence, violent or non-violent.
To constitute cruelty, the conduct complained of should be "grave and weighty
so as to come to the conclusion that the petitioner spouse cannot be reasonably
expected to live with the other spouse. It must be something more serious than
"ordinary wear and tear of married life
". The conduct taking into consideration
the circumstances and background has to be examined to reach the conclusion
whether the conduct complained of amounts to cruelty in the matrimonial law.
Conduct has to be considered, as noted above, in the background of several
factors such as social status of parties, their education, physical and mental
conditions, customs and traditions. It is difficult to lay down a precise
definition or to give exhaustive description of the circumstances, which would
It must be of the type as to satisfy the conscience of the
Court that the relationship between the parties had deteriorated to such extent
due to the conduct of the other spouse that it would be impossible for them to
live together without mental agony, torture or distress, to entitle the
complaining spouse to secure divorce. Physical violence is not absolutely
essential to constitute cruelty and a consistent course of conduct inflicting
immeasurable mental agony and torture may well constitute cruelty. Mental
cruelty may consist of verbal abuses and insults by using filthy and abusive
language leading to constant disturbance of mental peace of the other party.
Other Grounds Of Divorce
Apart from the cruelty there are several other bases for divorce on which one
can claim divorce and some of those are as follows;
- Entering new religion
- Unsoundness of mind etc.
There are certain grounds, which are provided by law specially to the women:
- Husband having more than one wife living
- Marriage before attainment of fifteen years
- Consent obtained by force etc.
So on these above grounds men and women can claim for decree of divorce in front
of the law
The Hindu Marriage Act-1955 has given the legal provision for divorce on
basis of cruelty under section - 13(1)(ia) as follows:
“Any marriage solemnized, whether before or after the commencement of this Act,
may, on a petition presented by either the husband or the wife, be dissolved by
a decree of divorce on the ground that the other party has, after the
solemnization of the marriage, treated the petitioner with cruelty”.
On basis of this section we can explain this legal basis for the divorce as
anybody who is getting suffer from the other party in physical manner or a
mental torture or any other type of harassment then the other can reach to the
court with this base and claim for the divorce. And there are various cases
where courts held that the intention to be cruel is not an essential element of
cruelty as envisaged under this section.
Sanno Kumari v/s Krishan Kumar
The Delhi High Court has dissolved marriage between a couple by decree of
divorce on the ground of cruelty observing that the husband had viewed his wife
as a cash cow on getting a job with Delhi Police without any emotional ties.
Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh was dealing with an appeal filed
by a wife challenging the Family Court order after observing neither of the
grounds of cruelty or desertion was established by her.
The marriage was solemnised between the couple in the year 2000 when the wife
was a minor and was 13 years old whereas the husband was 19 year old.
Even after attaining majority in 2005, the wife continued to reside at her
parental home till November 2014. During the said period, she was studying and
on account of her own merit, was able to secure a job with Delhi Police.
While it was the case of the the wife that her family was trying to persuade the
husband to take her to the matrimonial home, he showed no interest in the
matter. According to the wife, it was only after the wife got a job with Delhi
Police in the year 2014, that the he became interested in calling her to the
matrimonial home on account of the fact that she had secured a stable job and
The Court took note of the fact that there was no explanation as to why the wife
was not taken into the matrimonial home soon after she attained majority in the
year 2005, and why she had to live with her parents till the year 2014.
Therefore, observing that it was a clear case of perpetration of mental cruelty
established against the husband, the Court set aside the impugned judgment and
allowed the appeal while dissolving the marriage by decree of divorce under sec.
13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act.
On basis of these various points we can say how in history there was no such
law, which governs the matter of divorce in Hindu society but with the
implementation of the Hindu Marriage Act-1955, this vacuum has been filled with
proper directions and the law very well handling these matters with the help of
There are many grounds for the divorce provided by law but since we are mainly
concerned to the cruelty and in context of this we have seen how the courts have
interpreted cruelty within the boundaries of law according to the situation.
Written By: Archana Bamaniya