This article is written by Shally Yadav, a first-year law student of Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur.
Title of case: V. Bhagat vs. D. Bhagat
Citation: 1994 AIR 710
Court: Supreme Court of India.
Bench: Jeevan Reddy, B.P.
Petitioner: V. Bhagat.
Respondent: D. Bhagat.
Brief Facts of the case:-
- The husband filed a petition for divorce on the ground of adultery by the wife. After having her first child, the respondent started working again in the year 1972. The petitioner husband began suspecting the respondent wife of infidelity somewhere around 1978-79. According to the petitioner, when he questioned the respondent of her adulterous actions, she admitted the same and asked to be pardoned. The respondent denies this.
- The petitioner husband tried to get a divorce by mutual consent but the respondent was not willing. He filed for a petition for divorce on the ground of adultery by the wife.
- The respondent wife filed a written statement denying all the allegations of the petitioner and attributed the allegations to lack of mental equilibrium of the husband.
- The husband then amended his petition; he alleged a new ground for divorce on mental cruelty. According to him, the allegations made in the written statement constitute cruelty which entitles him to a divorce without going into the original allegation of adultery.
- The petitioner wanted dissolution of marriage on the ground of mental cruelty.
Argument of the Petitioner:-
- The counsel for the petitioner prayed in the application to give appropriate directions for speedy disposal of the divorce petition. In this application the petitioner states that the petition for divorce is pending over the last 8 years. The respondent has indulged in lax tactics to prolong the litigation.
- The learned counsel for the petitioner reiterated his plea to grant a divorce on the ground of cruelty suffered by the petitioner by the allegations made by the respondent in the written statement. In her written statement, the respondent has alleged that the petitioner is a mental patient, that he is not a normal person, that he requires psychological treatment to restore his mental health, that he is suffering from paranoid disorder and mental hallucinations.In the cross-examination of the petitioner, the Senior Advocate appearing for the respondent wife put several questions suggesting that the petitioner and some members of his family including his grandfather are lunatics and that a streak of insanity is running through the entire family.
- Counsel for the petitioner submitted that the marriage between the parties has broken down irreversibly. The nature of allegations and counter-allegations made by the parties against each other make it clear that there is hardly any room for them to come back together.
Argument of the Respondent:-
- The learned counsel for the respondent contends that the respondent was not responsible for the delay; that the petitioner has himself been delaying the proceedings and that the questions put to him in cross-examination and the defence taken in the written statement are merely the reactions of the wife to unjustified and unwarranted allegations cast upon her character.
- The respondent submitted that her children and even the sisters and mother of the petitioner are siding her in this dispute and that the petitioner alone, alienated from his entire family, is persecuting her. It is submitted that she is only trying to defend her self-respect, honour and standing in society.
- The respondent has submitted that she does not agree to divorce the petitioner on any ground whatsoever and that she is always prepared to live with the petitioner. It is only the petitioner who is keeping himself away from her company and has confined himself to one room, whereas she, her children and her mother-in-law live in the house as usual.
- The learned Supreme Court judge states that the respondent wife in formal pleading alleged that the petitioner is a mental patient, that he is not a normal person, that he requires psychological treatment to restore his mental health, that he is suffering from paranoid disorder and mental hallucinations and that he and all the members of his family are a bunch of lunatics. These assertions constitute mental cruelty of such a nature that the petitioner, with reference to several relevant circumstances, cannot reasonably be asked to live with the respondent thereafter.
- The husband is an Advocate practicing in this Court as well as in Delhi High Court. The divorce petition is being tried in the Delhi High Court itself. Making such allegations in the pleadings and putting such questions to the husband while he is in the witness-box, is bound to cause him intense mental pain and anguish besides affecting his career and professional prospects.
- The respondent has been called as an incorrigible adulteress. She is fully aware that the marriage is long perished and over. She contends that the petitioner is genetically insane. Despite all that, she says that she wants to live with the petitioner. The obvious conclusion is that she wants to make life miserable for the petitioner as well as herself. This type of callous attitude in the context of the facts of this case, leaves no manner of doubt that the respondent is bent upon treating the petitioner with mental cruelty.
- The marriage has been broken down and there is no chance for the petitioner and the respondent to come back to the matrimonial house and live together.
- The petition for divorce is allowed. The marriage between the parties is dissolved. The allegations made by the petitioner against the wife are held ‘not proved’. The honour and character of the respondent wife stands vindicated. There shall be no order as to costs.
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