In India, the practice of demanding dowry and filing false dowry cases against a spouse is a serious offense that can have severe consequences for both parties involved. False dowry cases are often filed to extort money or to harass the spouse and their family members, causing significant harm and mental distress. In response, the Indian government has enacted laws to protect women from dowry-related abuse and to provide a legal basis for seeking divorce based on false dowry cases.
Under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, it is a criminal offense to subject a woman to cruelty, which includes physical or mental harassment for dowry. In addition, the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 criminalizes the demand for dowry and provides for penalties for those found guilty of such offenses. Spouses who are subjected to false dowry cases can use these laws as a basis for seeking a divorce.
In the case of K. Srinivas v. K. Sunita (2014), the court held that the filing of false dowry cases against a spouse is a form of cruelty that can be a ground for divorce. The court stated that false dowry cases are a serious offense that can cause significant harm and distress to the targeted spouse and their family members. The court also noted that filing false dowry cases can lead to an erosion of trust and respect in the marital relationship, which can have long-term consequences.
G. Suhasini vs. G. Vinod Kumar Reddy (21.09.2022 – TLHC)
The main grievance of the petitioner is that the respondent has subjected him to cruelty and his case is that the respondent is of suspicious nature and that whenever he receives any phone call, she created big violence and used to quarrel with him. It appears that due to burns injuries, she may be suffering from inferiority complex, and used to quarrel, and also suspect the petitioner. The further grievance of the petitioner is that she demanded for separation from his parents and she also threatened to lodge false complaints and that she used to make simple issues into complicated and that every day she used to quarrel with him and that ultimately left the matrimonial home on 3.12.2010 and though he made efforts before well-wishers and community elders for reunion, but it resulted in vain. That the respondent used to harass him by sending antisocial elements to his house and office and threatened him with dire consequences. On the other hand, the case of the respondent is of total denial.
G. Suhasini vs. G. Vinod Kumar Reddy (21.09.2022 – TLHC)
25. The main grievance of the petitioner is that the respondent filed false criminal case and domestic violence case against him.
26. It is to be seen that the respondent left the matrimonial house of the petitioner on 3.12.2010, and she filed Crl. No. 161 of 2011 on 7.8.2011 under Section 498-A against the petitioner and his family members, and subsequently she also filed D.V.C. No. 51 of 2016 during the year 2016 i.e., after a period of about six years. Prima facie the ingredients under Section 498-A of IPC and domestic violence are absent in the averments made by the respondent in the counter affidavit.
G. Suhasini vs. G. Vinod Kumar Reddy (21.09.2022 – TLHC)
It is to be seen that if really, the respondent is intending to join the petitioner and lead a peaceful life, definitely she would not have indulged in initiating criminal case and domestic violence case against the petitioner and his family members. The petitioner is a bank employee, and filing of cases would affect his job prospects. Hence, this would definitely cause great mental agony, and would also amount to subjecting the petitioner to ‘mental cruelty’.
28. The Apex Court in RAJ TALREJA v. V. KAVITA TALREJA MANU/SC/0493/2017 : (2017)14 SCC 194, held that “This Court in Para 16 of K. Srinivas Rao v. D.A. Deepa has held as follows: 16. Thus, to the instances illustrative of mental cruelty noted in Samar Ghosh v. Jaya ghosh, MANU/SC/1386/2007 : 2007(4) SCC 511, we could add a few more. Making unfounded indecent defamatory allegations against the spouse or his or her relatives in the pleadings, filing of complaints or issuing notices or news items which may have adverse impact on the business prospect or the job of the spouse and filing repeated false complaints and cases in the court against the spouse would, in the facts of the case, amount to causing mental cruelty to the other spouse.”
29. A Division Bench of this court in P. PADMA v. P. CHENNAIAH MANU/TL/0516/2021 : 2022(1) ALD 103 (TS)(DB), held that false, scandalous, malicious and baseless charges made against husband by wife, prima facie amounts to ‘cruelty’, and on the basis of the same, husband is entitled to decree of divorce.
30. As noted above, since 3.12.2010 the respondent is living in her parental house and she also filed criminal case and domestic violence case against the petitioner and his parents. She also implicated the friend of the petitioner in the criminal case. Further the efforts made by this court to settle the issue between the parties did not yield any result, and the husband is not willing to take the wife back, and the wife is not willing for divorce, and since more than a decade both are living separately. In fact the respondent did not even attend the Mediation Centre and hence the mediation remained unsuccessful.
31. In the decision reported in NAVEEN KOHILI vs. NEELU KOHILI MANU/SC/1387/2006 : AIR 2006 SC 1675 (supra), somewhat similar situation came up for consideration
before the Apex Court. The facts therein disclose that the respondent who is the wife of the appellant, has initiated criminal and civil proceedings and the both are living separately for the past ten years and the marital bond between them was beyond repair, and still the wife is not inclined for divorce. In these facts and circumstances, the Apex Court held that the matrimonial bond between the parties is beyond repair and not to grant a decree of divorce would be disastrous for the parties. Accordingly the order and decree of the trial court in denying the decree of divorce was set aside and the appeal filed by the appellant – husband for a decree of divorce was allowed. The relevant portion of the order is as under:
“Even at this stage, the respondent does not want divorce by mutual consent. From the analysis and evaluation of the entire evidence, it is clear that the respondent has resolved to live in agony only to make life a miserable hell for the appellant as well. This type of adamant and callous attitude, in the context of the facts of this case, leaves no manner of doubt in our mind that the respondent is bent upon treating the appellant with mental cruelty. It is abundantly clear that the marriage between the parties had broken down irretrievably and there is no chance of their coming together, or living together again.
The High Court ought to have appreciated that there is no acceptable way in which the parties can be compelled to resume life with the consort, nothing is gained by trying to keep the parties tied forever to a marriage that in fact has ceased to exist.
Undoubtedly, it is the obligation of the Court and all concerned that the marriage status should, as far as possible, as long as possible and whenever possible, be maintained, but when the marriage is totally dead, in that event, nothing is gained by trying to keep the parties tied forever to a marriage which in fact has ceased to exist. In the instant case, there has been total disappearance of emotional substratum in the marriage. The course which has been adopted by the High Court would encourage continuous bickering, perpetual bitterness and may lead to immorality.
In view of the fact that the parties have been living separately for more than 10 years and a very large number of aforementioned criminal and civil proceedings have been initiated by the respondent against the appellant and some proceedings have been initiated by the appellant against the respondent, the matrimonial bond between the parties is beyond repair. A marriage between the parties is only in name. The marriage has been wrecked beyond the hope of salvage, public interest and interest of all concerned lies in the recognition of the fact and to declare defunct de jure what is already defunct de facto. To keep the sham is obviously conducive to immorality and potentially more prejudicial to the public interest than a dissolution of the marriage bond.
The High Court ought to have visualized that preservation of such a marriage is totally unworkable which has ceased to be effective and would be greater source of misery for the parties.
The High Court ought to have considered that a human problem can be properly resolved by adopting a human approach. In the instant case, not to grant a decree of divorce would be disastrous for the parties. Otherwise, there may be a ray of hope for the parties that after a passage of time (after obtaining a
decree of divorce) the parties may psychologically and emotionally settle down and start a new chapter in life.
In our considered view, looking to the peculiar facts of the case, the High Court was not justified in setting aside the order of the Trial Court. In our opinion, wisdom lies in accepting the pragmatic reality of life and take a decision which would ultimately be conducive in the interest of both the parties.
Consequently, we set aside the impugned judgment of the High Court and direct that the marriage between the parties should be dissolved according to the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
32. Further, the Apex Court in the decision reported in SAMAR GHOSH v. JAYA GHOSH MANU/SC/1386/2007 : 2007(4) ALD 11 (SC) (supra), held as under:
“100. (xiv) Where there has been a long period of continuous separation, it may fairly be concluded that the matrimonial bond is beyond repair. The marriage becomes a fiction though supported by a legal tie. By refusing to sever that tie, the law in such cases, does not serve the sanctity of marriage; on the contrary it shows scant regard to the feelings and emotions of the parties. In such like situations, it may lead to mental cruelty.”
33.Having regard to the law laid down by the Apex Court, and the facts and circumstances of the case, this court is of the considered view that the wife by indulging in criminal and civil litigation has made the matrimonial bond beyond repair and subjected the petitioner to ‘mental cruelty’ and on this ground the petitioner is entitled to seek for divorce. The issue framed is answered accordingly.
34. For the foregoing reasons, the impugned order and decree of the trial court is set aside and the O.P. No. 218 of 2012 filed by the petitioner/appellant is allowed and the marriage between the petitioner and the respondent held on 22.08.2010 is dissolved and a decree of divorce is granted to the petitioner.
35. The appeal is accordingly allowed.
Result court granted divorce
Joginder Singh vs. Rajwinder Kaur (29.10.2022 – PHHC)
………But when a person undergoes a trial in which he is acquitted of the allegation of offence under Section 498A of IPC, levelled by the wife against the husband, it cannot be accepted that no cruelty has meted on the husband. As per pleadings before us, after parties having been married on 14.8.2005, they lived together only 18 months and thereafter they are separately living for more
than a decade now.
15. In view of forgoing discussion, we conclude that appellant has made a ground for grant of decree of dissolution of marriage on the ground as mentioned in Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.”
14. In yet another case of Kahkashan Kausar @ Sonam v. State of Bihar (SC): Law Finder Doc Id # 1941423,’ the Hon’ble Supreme Court held as follows:
“Further, it is submitted that the FIR in question has been made with a revengeful intent, merely to harass the Appellant in-laws herein, and should be dealt with accordingly. Reliance is placed on Social Action Forum for Manav Adhikar & Anr. v. Union of India, Ministry of Law And Justice & Ors., MANU/SC/0987/2018 : (2018) 10 SCC 443, wherein it was observed:-
“4. Regarding the constitutionality of Section 498A IPC, in Sushil Kumar Sharma v. Union of India and others, it was held by the Supreme Court:-
“Provision of S. 498A of Penal Code is not unconstitutional and ultra vires. Mere possibility of abuse of a provision of law does not per se invalidate a legislation. Hence plea that S. 498A has no legal or constitutional foundation is not tenable. The object of the provisions is prevention of the dowry menace. But many instances have come to light where the complaints are not bona fide and have been filed with oblique motive. In such cases acquittal of the accused does not in all cases wipe out the ignominy suffered during and prior to trial. Sometimes adverse media coverage adds to the misery. The question, therefore, is what remedial measures can be taken to prevent abuse of the well-intentioned provision. Merely because the provision is constitutional and intra vires, does not give a licence to unscrupulous persons to wreck personal vendetta or unleash harassment. It may, therefore, become necessary for the legislature to find out ways how the makers of frivolous complaints or allegations can be appropriately dealt with. Till then the Courts have to take care of the situation within the existing frame-work.””
15. Even this Court in the case of Sushma Taya v Arvind MANU/PH/3556/2014 : 2015 (2) RCR 888 (P&H) held that filing of false criminal complaint by a spouse invariably and inevitably amounts to matrimonial cruelty and entitles the other to claim divorce.
1 6 . Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of A. Jayachandra v Aneel Kaur MANU/SC/1023/2004 : 2005 (2) SCC 22 has held that allegation of cruelty is of such nature that resumption of marriage is not possible.
17. In Raj Talreja v. Kavita Talreja’, MANU/SC/0493/2017 : (2017) 14 SCC 194, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held as follows:
“Cruelty can never be defined with exactitude. What is cruelty will depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case. In the present case, from the facts narrated above, it is apparent that the wife made reckless, defamatory and false accusations against her husband, his family members and colleagues, which
would definitely have the effect of lowering his reputation in the eyes of his peers. Mere filing of complaints is not cruelty, if there are justifiable reasons to file the complaints. Merely because no action is taken on the complaint or after trial the accused is acquitted may not be a ground to treat such accusations of the wife as cruelty within the meaning of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 (for short ‘the Act’). However, if it is found that the allegations are patently false, then there can be no manner of doubt that the said conduct of a spouse levelling false accusations against the other spouse would be an act of cruelty. In the present case, all the allegations were found to be false.”
18. Even otherwise a perusal of the LCR as well as the present appeal, reveals that there are great differences between both parties and they are determined to live separately and to not reconcile the issues between them. As stated above, mediation attempts between the parties have failed. It is not in dispute that the parties have been living separately since October 2013. In our view, this conduct of the parties evidences that there are irreconcilable differences between them, rendering the marriage, as of today, a mere legal fiction. Though irretrievable breakdown of marriage is not available as a ground under the statute, yet, the reality of it has been recognised by the Supreme Court in a catena of decisions.
19. In these circumstances the following observations of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in case of ‘K. Srinivas Rao vs. D.A. Deepa’ MANU/SC/0180/2013 : (2013) 5 SCC 226, cover the current controversy:
“25. It is also to be noted that the appellant-husband and the respondent-wife are staying apart from 27/4/1999. Thus, they are living separately for more than ten years. This separation has created an unbridgeable distance between the two. As held in Samar Ghosh, if we refuse to sever the tie, it may lead to mental cruelty.
26. We are also satisfied that this marriage has irretrievably broken down. Irretrievable breakdown of marriage is not a ground for divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. But where marriage is beyond repair on account of bitterness created by the acts of the husband or the wife or of both, the courts have always taken irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a very weighty circumstance amongst others necessitating severance of marital tie. A marriage which is dead for all purposes cannot be revived by the court’s verdict, if the parties are not willing. This is because marriage involves human sentiments and emotions and if they are dried-up there is hardly any chance of their springing back to life on account of artificial reunion created by the court’s decree. …
28. In the ultimate analysis, we hold that the respondent-wife has caused by her conduct mental cruelty to the appellant-husband and the marriage has irretrievably broken down. Dissolution of marriage will relieve both sides of pain and anguish. In this Court has respondent-wife expressed that she wants to go back to the appellant-husband, but, that is not possible now. The appellant husband is not willing to take her back. Even if we refuse decree of divorce to the appellant-husband, there are hardly any chances of the respondent-wife leading a happy life with the appellant-husband because a lot of bitterness is created by the conduct of the respondent wife.”
20. Reference at this stage can be made to the case of ‘Naveen Kohli v. Neelu Kohli’, MANU/SC/1387/2006 : (2006) 4 SCC 558 which was also a case of cruelty (mental and
physical) where the Hon’ble Supreme Court again considered the concept of irretrievable breakdown of marriage. In that case too the parties had been living separately since ten years and the wife was not ready to grant divorce to her husband. However, notwithstanding this factual position, Hon’ble Supreme Court was pleased to grant divorce in said matter and has further noticed as follows:
“32. In ‘Sandhya Rani v. Kalyanram Narayanan’, (1994) Supp. 2 SCC 588, this Court reiterated and took the view that since the parties are living separately for the last more than three years, we have no doubt in our mind that the marriage between the parties has irretrievably broken down. There is no chance whatsoever of their coming together. Therefore, the Court granted the decree of divorce.
33. In the case of ‘Chandrakala Menon v. Vipin Menon’, MANU/SC/0459/1993 : (1993)2 SCC 6, the parties had been living separately for so many years. This Court came to the conclusion that there is no scope of settlement between them because, according to the observation of this Court, the marriage has irretrievably broken down and there is no chance of their coming together. This Court granted decree of divorce.
34. In the case of Kanchan Devi v. Promod Kumar Mittal, MANU/SC/1515/1996 : 1996 (2) RCR (Criminal) 614 : (1996)8 SCC 90, the parties were living separately for more than 10 years and the Court came to the conclusion that the marriage between the parties had to be irretrievably broken down and there was no possibility of reconciliation and therefore the Court directed that the marriage between the parties stands dissolved by a decree of divorce.”
21. Thus, in the conspectus of the peculiar facts and circumstances of the present case, and in consonance with the aforesaid pronouncements of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, with a view to do complete justice, and put an end to the agony of the parties, this Court deems it appropriate to allow the present appeal.
The court further observed that false dowry cases can cause significant emotional and financial harm to the targeted spouse, who may be forced to spend significant amounts of time and money defending themselves against these false allegations. Therefore, the court held that filing false dowry cases can be considered cruelty, which is a valid ground for seeking a divorce.
In conclusion, filing false dowry cases against a spouse is a serious offense that can have severe consequences for both parties involved. In India, false dowry cases can be a basis for seeking a divorce on the grounds of cruelty. The court has recognized the harm caused by false dowry cases and has held that such behavior can lead to an erosion of trust and respect in the marital relationship. Spouses who are subjected to false dowry cases can use the laws against dowry-related abuse as a basis for seeking a divorce.