Bombay High Court framed a substantial question of law to determine as to whether for the act of filing complaint under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, to amount to mental cruelty on the acquittal of husband and family, it is essential that judgment of acquittal must find that the complaint filed was false and with an intention to defame?
In the instant case, a complaint was filed by the wife after five days of marriage against the appellant-husband and his family members. Wife had nowhere alleged that during those five days there was any ill-treatment or demand of dowry by the appellant or his family members from her or her family members. The complaint was later dismissed on merits.
It was observed by the High Court that if the complaint filed by the wife against the husband under section 498- A of IPC and other related provisions was dismissed on merits and the husband and his family members are acquitted, it was clear that the complaint filed by the wife was false. Filing of such complaint itself creates mental trauma on the husband and the complaint which was seriously prosecuted by the wife by leading evidence of several persons and bringing the said complaint to its logical conclusion which ultimately resulted in acquittal of the husband and his family members clearly amounted to the cruelty committed by the wife upon the husband.
The court held that if a false criminal complaint is preferred by either spouse it would invariably and indubitably constitute matrimonial cruelty, such as would entitle the other spouse to claim a divorce. The wife, in the present matter, having filed a false complaint alleging offence under section 498-A, 323, 504 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code, in which the appellant and his family members were acquitted, the appellant (who had filed divorce petition) became entitled to seek divorce on the ground of cruelty under section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act.
The next question for consideration was to determine as to whether a wife who had filed a false complaint under section 498-A and other relevant provisions of IPC in which the husband and his family members were arrested and were subsequently acquitted can continue to maintain a petition under section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act for seeking restitution of conjugal rights or not.
It was held that when wife, in the instant matter, treated the husband with cruelty and such allegations having been proved, she at the same time could not maintain her application for restitution of conjugal rights by filing an application under section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The husband, who had suffered mentally in view of such false criminal case filed by the wife and admittedly in which he and his family members were acquitted, cannot be compelled by the Court by passing an order of restitution of conjugal rights under section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and to co-habit with the wife. Once the husband has made out a case of divorce and had proved the cruelty committed by the wife under section 13(1) (i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, the wife could not maintain her application for restitution of conjugal rights under section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
Once the cruelty committed by the wife is proved by the husband, no relief for restitution of conjugal rights can be granted by the Court.
No spouse can be allowed to urge that he or she would treat other with cruelty and at the same time would also force other to co-habit with him or her by filing application under section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act for restitution of conjugal rights under the same roof. In my view, since the appellant husband had proved the case of cruelty on the part of the wife, the learned trial Judge as well as the lower appellate Court ought to have considered such case as a fit case for divorce and not a fit case for granting a relief under section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1995 for restitution of conjugal rights in favour of the respondent.
[Anil Yashwant Karande vs. Smt. Mangal Anil Karande]
(Bombay HC, 23.12.2015 – Second Appeal Nos. 396 & 397 of 2013)