This article is written by Shally Yadav, a first-year law student of Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur.
Title of case: Vijaykumar Ramchandra Bhate Vs. Neela Vijaykumar Bhate
Citation: AIR 2003 SC 2462
Court: Supreme Court of India
Bench: Doraiswamy Raju and D.M. Dharmadhikari.
Appellant/Petitioner: Vijaykumar Ramchandra Bhate
Respondent: Neela Vijaykumar Bhate
Brief Facts of the case:-
- Two appeals have been filed by the husband, who lost before both the courts below, challenging the orders granting dissolution of the marriage solemnized between parties on 10th June, 1973 at the instance of the respondent wife and challenging the dismissal of the petition filed by the appellant seeking for the relief of restitution of conjugal rights and custody the two daughters.
- The wife filed a Petition under Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, seeking for dissolution of the marriage and grant of divorce on the ground of cruelty said to have been meted out to the wife.
- In support of her claim, the wife narrated several instances of harassment and nagging attitude, which caused her mental agony and serious set back in health. These were ultimately considered and viewed by the learned Family Court Judge to be mere normal wear and tear of marital life.
- But at the same time, the allegations made by the husband, extensively with enumeration of instances and incidents against wife branding her as an unchaste woman, keeping illicit relations – sexually and otherwise with one Ramesh Sawant, the son of a neighbour, were subsequently withdrawn by seeking an amendment of the written statement.
- The respondent, who was the wife of the appellant, wanted dissolution of their marriage and grant of divorce on the ground of cruelty.
- The appellant filed the appeal for restitution of conjugal rights and custody of the daughters.
Argument of the Appellant/Petitioner:-
- Shri V.N. Ganpule, learned senior counsel for the appellant, contended that the judgments of the two courts below could not be sustained as they have mainly been based upon certain allegations made in the written statement of Petition, which got deleted and withdrawn by seeking for and obtaining orders by way of amendment to the written statement.
- All the more so, according to the learned counsel, the other grievances made in the petition filed to substantiate the claim of cruelty, came to be rejected as matters of normal wear and tear in matrimonial life, not amounting to cruelty so as to justify the grant of divorce on them alone.
- It is further urged on behalf of the appellant that there is still scope left with parties for reconciliation and if only the decree for divorce is set aside, there is room for restitution of the martial relationship between parties and resumption of the marital home.
Argument of the Respondent:-
- The law in this regard declares that leveling disgusting accusations of unchastity and indecent familiarity with a person outside wedlock and allegations of extra marital relationship is a grave assault on the character, honour, reputation, status as well as the health of the wife. Such allegations on the character of the wife, viewed in the context of an educated Indian wife and judged by Indian conditions and standards would amount to worst form of insult and cruelty, sufficient by itself to substantiate cruelty in law, warranting the claim of the wife being allowed
- The allegations made in this case do not appear to have been the result of any sudden outburst. On the other hand, such injurious reproaches, accusations and taunts as were found to have been made in this case lend credence to the fact that the husband was persisting in them for sufficiently a long time humiliating and wounding the feelings of the wife to such an extent as to make it insufferable for the wife and to live in matrimonial home any longer with the husband
- It must be made clear that the amendment of the written statement cannot have any reference to anything that had happened prior to the filing of the petition on which the petitioner can place reliance, although such matters may have been covered by the statements now deleted. It may be remembered that the petitioner is not withdrawing her allegations. It has also to be remembered that the petitioner has not acted upon unilateral withdrawal of the allegations by the respondent by his letter. In the light of all these, it is futile to claim on behalf of the appellant that the withdrawal of allegations unilaterally by the appellant, by filing an application for amendment of the written statement wiped out completely all those allegations for all purposes.
- The submission on behalf of the appellant that once the decree for divorce is set aside, there may be fresh avenues and scope for reconciliation between parties to revert back to matrimonial home, viewed in the context of the attitude of the wife, who seriously contests the claims of the appellant, by filing her reply in this Court, does not appeal to the judges. The allegations and counter allegations exchanged are indicative of the strong hatred and rancour between them. Judged in the background of all surrounding circumstances noticed by the courts below and what has been observed, the claim appears to us to be too desolate merely born out of despair rather than based upon any real, concrete or genuine purpose or aim.
- Even the fact that the application for amendment seeking for deletion of the accusations made in the written statement was ordered and amendments carried out subsequently does not absolve the husband in this case, from being held liable for having treated the wife with cruelty by making earlier such injurious reproaches and statements, due to their impact when made and continued to remain on record.
- For all the reasons stated above, the court sees no merit whatsoever in the appeals and consequently they fail and shall stand dismissed. No costs.
The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.