Posts tagged ‘cruelty’


Cruelty is one of the grounds for a divorce petition under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and various other matrimonial laws of India. The Supreme Court of India through various decisions has explained the concept of cruelty.

1. In N.G. Dastane(Dr) vs S. Dastane reported in (1975)2 SCC 326, Supreme court has observed that conduct charged as cruelty should be of such a character as to cause in the mind of the Petitioner, a reasonable apprehension that it is harmful or injurious to live with the respondent.

2. In V. Bhagat vs D. Bhagat, reported in (1994)1 SCC 337, the Supreme Court held that the mental cruelty must be of such a nature that the parties cannot be reasonable be expected to live together. While arriving at such conclusion regard must be had to the social status, educational level of the parties, the society they move in and all other relevant facts and circumstances.

3. In the case of Savithri Pandey vs Prem Chandra Pandey reported in (2002)2 SCC 73, the Supreme Court observed that cruelty must be distinguished from the ordinary tear and wear of the life. It cannot be decided on the basis of the sensitivity of the Petitioner. But the same has to be adjudged on the basis of course of conduct , which would be in general, be dangerous for a spouse to live with each other.

4. In Parveen Mehta vs Indrajit Mehta (2002)5 SCC 706, the Supreme Court observed that the approach should be to take the cumulative effect of the facts and circumstances emerging from the evidence on record and then draw a fair inference whether the petitioner in the divorce petition has been subjected to mental cruelty due to the conduct of the other.

5. In the case of A. Jayachandra vs Aneel Kaur (2005)2 SCC 22 the apex court held that for physical cruelty there can be tangible and direct evidence but in mental cruelty there may not be direct evidence. When there is no direct evidence, courts are required to probe into the mental process and mental effect of incidence that are brought out in evidence.

6. In the case of Vinitha Saxena vs Pankaj Pandit (2006)3 SCC 778 the Supreme Court held that what constitutes mental cruelty will not depend upon the numerical count of such incidents or only on the continuous course of such conduct, but really go by the intensity, gravity and stigmatic impact of it when meted out even once and deleterious effect of it in the mental attitude, necessary for maintaining a conducive matrimonial home.

7. In the case of Samar Ghosh vs Jaya Ghosh (2007)4 SCC 511 the Supreme Court observed that no uniform standard can be laid down for guidance with regard to mental cruelty. The married life should be reviewed as a whole and a few isolated instances over a period of years will not amount to cruelty. The ill conduct must be persistent for a lengthy period, where relationship has deteriorated to an extent that, the wronged party finds it extremely difficult to live with other party any longer.

8. In the case of Naveen Kohli vs Neelu Kholi (2006)4 SCC 558, the Supreme Court held that Public Interest demands not only that the married status should as far as possible, as long as possible and whenever possible, be maintained, but where a marriage has been wrecked beyond the hope of salvage, public interest lies in the recognition of that fact.

9. The honorable High Court of Karnataka in the case A. Anil Kumar vs Vanishree A, reported in ILR 2009 Kar 3028, laid down the following principles with regard to the concept of cruelty:-

a. On consideration of complete matrimonial life of the parties, acute mental pain, agony and suffering as would not make possible for the parties to live with each other could come within the broad parameters of mental cruelty.

b. On comprehensive appraisal of entire matrimonial life of the parties, it becomes abundantly clear that situation is such that the wronged party cannot reasonably put up with such conduct and continue to live with other party.

c. A sustained course of abusive and humiliating treatment calculated to torture, discommode or render miserable life of the spouse.

d. Sustained unjustifiable conduct and behavior of one spouse actually affecting physical and mental health of the other spouse. The treatment complained of and the resultant danger of apprehension must be very grave, substantial and weighty.

e. Sustained reprehensible conduct, studied neglect, indifference or total departure from the normal standard of conjugal kindness causing injury to mental health or deriving sadistic pleasure can also amount to mental cruelty.

f. Mere trivial irritations, quarrels, normal wear and tear of the married life which happens in day to day life would not be adequate for grant of divorce on the ground of mental cruelty.

g. The married life should be reviewed as a whole and a few isolated instances over a period of years will not amount to cruelty. The ill conduct must be persistent for a lengthy period, where the relationship has deteriorated to an extent that because of the acts and behavior of a spouse, the wronged party finds it extremely difficult to live with other party any longer, may amount to mental cruelty.

10. The Supreme Court  in the case of Shobha Rani vs Madhukar Reddi  reported in (1988)1 SCC 105 has held that:

a. Cruelty may be mental or physical, intentional or unintentional. If it is physical, it will be easy for the court to determine it. If it is mental, the problem presents difficulty. It is a matter of inference to be drawn by taking into account the nature of the conduct and its effects on the complaining spouse. There may be occasions where the conduct itself is bad enough and it amounts to cruelty; in such cases the impact of such conduct need not be considered.

b. There has been a marked change in the life around us. The courts should not search for standards in life, while appreciating mental cruelty. Matrimonial duties and responsibilities are of varying degrees from house to house and from person to person. A set of facts, stigmatised as cruelty in one case may not be so in another case. The cruelty alleged may depend upon the life style of the parties, their economic and social conditions, their cultural and human values etc.

c. The categories of cruelty are not closed, each case may be different. New types of cruelty may crop up in new cases. The conduct which is complained of as cruelty by one spouse may not be so, for the other spouse. Intention is not a necessary element in cruelty.

11. In Romesh Chander vs Savithri AIR 1995 SC 851, the Supreme Court held that if the marriage is dead and there is no chance of being retrieved it is better to bring it to an end.

12. The honourable High Court of Karnataka in the case of Hoovamma  vs Vishwanth reported in  ILR 2009 Kar 4193 has held that.

a. Cruelty is not defined under the Hindu Marriage Act. It is impossible to give a comprehensive definition to cruelty. It has been used in relation to human conduct or human behaviour.

b. If the spouses are living separately for a considerable time and there is no love lost between them, the marriage is dead emotionally and practically and there is no chance of being retrieved. Continuance of marital relationship for name sake itself constitutes a cruelty of mind. In such circumstances, trying to find out who is the cause for such sorry state of affairs would be an exercise in futility

Criminal Complaints In Matrimonial Matters

There are various legal safeguards for women to rely on, in case they are subjected to cruelty and harassment by husband or in-laws pertaining to matrimonial matters. The teeth of law are very much sharpened to protect the interests of fair sex. 

If a wife reports the incidents of cruelty, mental or physical, or the demand of dowry by her husband or in laws, a police officer is bound to register an FIR and investigate the matter. The police authorities in such cases act in a very mechanical manner. Even if there is no requirement to arrest the accused persons, they tend to immediately arrest the accused persons and put them behind bars. This, many times result in the torture of innocent persons, just because the legal system is weighed in favor of women. There are several instances when women misuse the benefits of law and lodge false complaints to settle personal scores. Though, in the end a court of law may acquit the accused, the trauma in carrying on with the case for years cannot be underestimated.

The accused in matrimonial offences can avail the benefit of anticipatory bail to avoid arrest and resultant torture in the hands of the police. If they sense the possibility of filing of false criminal case by the wife or her relatives, then they are advised to approach the Sessions Court or the High Court for an order of anticipatory bail. As a matter of right, a person cannot ask a court for the grant of anticipatory bail. The court will look into the facts of the case and grant bail in appropriate cases. Once anticipatory bail is granted, the police officials cannot arrest and detain the accused. They can arrest him, but they have to release him immediately.