Cruelty to Husband : The other side of the coin!

Arrest of Husband and Family Members under Section 498A of IPC:

The Hon’ble Supreme Court has correctly referred to this malpractice of misuse of laws by women as “Legal Terrorism”.  Various legislations like Section 498A were made to empower the women instead they are being misused by many. Thus the Supreme Court in the matter of Rajesh Sharma and ors. v. State of U.P and Anr.(2017 SCC OnLine SC 821) promulgated that even though the object of Section 498A is of importance but the violation of human rights of innocent cannot be brushed aside. Thus the Hon’ble Supreme Court pronounced that to remedy the situation, the involvement of civil society in the aid of administration of justice can be one of the steps, apart from the investigating officers and the concerned trial courts being sensitized. It laid down certain guidelines according to which now the Husband and/or his family members are not arrested directly but only after report of Family Welfare Committees. Every complaint under Section 498A received by the police or the Magistrate has be referred to and looked into by such committee.

Naming Distant Relatives in cases: 

Recently the hon’ble Apex court In the matter of K. Subba Rao and Ors. v. The State of Telangana, rep. by its secretary, Department of home and others proclaimed that in matters of matrimonial disputes and dowry deaths, where crimes are alleged, the courts should meticulously proceed against distant relatives of the husband.

(Para 5) The Courts should be careful in proceeding against the distant relatives in crimes pertaining to matrimonial disputes and dowry deaths. The relatives of the husband should not be roped in on the basis of omnibus allegations unless specific instances of their involvement in the crime are made out.

It is often observed that in cases of complaints of crimes relating to dowry and other matrimonial disputes, there is a practice going on in the society where  even distant relatives of the husband are made a party to the case with vexatious motives.  As a result of this, undue harassment is caused to such relatives. The law has provisions so that appropriate and genuine use is made of them but such loopholes are discovered and exploited by some anti-social elements. Though, the law does not bar reporting distant relatives in complaints but misuse of the legislature to unnecessarily harass for fulfilment of vindictive agendas should not be allowed. Even the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Kailash Chandra Aggarwal and anr. V. State of U.P. and Ors. enunciated that:

(Para 9) The Court has, thus, to be careful in summoning distant relatives without there being specific material. Only the husband, his parents or at best close family members may be expected to demand dowry or to harass the wife but not distant relations, unless there is tangible material to support allegations made against such distant relations. Mere naming of distant relations is not enough to summon them in absence of any specific role and material to support such role.

False Case(s) by wife is a ground for divorce:

The High Court of Madhya Pradesh in the matter of Dinesh Nagda v. Shantibai (AIR 2012 MP 40) held that false criminal proceedings initiated by wife due to which husband and family members had to face agony of trial of criminal case amounted to mental cruelty, thus entitling the husband to decree of divorce.

(Para 16) Thus, on the basis of the aforesaid analysis, we hold that the grounds of cruelty is made out on account of the false prosecution of the appellant and his family members for offences under sections 498A and 494 of the IPC. The appellant and his family members including the female family members of the appellant had to face agony of the trial of the criminal case for long seven years. They had to suffer the humiliation during this period and ultimately the charges levelled against them could not be substantiated, resulting into their acquittal.

Husband forced to leave due to words of wife, Husband won’t be guilty of desertion:

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the matter of Bipin Chander Jaisingh Bhai Shah v. Prabhawati  (AIR 1957 SC 176) held that if by the words and conduct of one spouse, the other spouse is compelled to leave the marital home then the former would be guilty of desertion despit the fact that the latter has physically left the other.

(Para 25) If one spouse by his words and conduct compel the other spouse to leave the marital home, the former would be guilty of desertion, though it is the latter who has physically separated from the other and has been made to leave the marital home.

Character Assassination of Husband by Wife if not proved amounts to cruelty towards husband thus entitling him to divorce: 

In the matter of Surinder Mohan Chopra v. Smt. Nirmala Chopra [AIR 2007 (DOC) 183 (P&H) (DB)] it was held by the Punjab and Haryana High Court that as serious allegations against the husband (having illicit relationship with another woman) by the wife were not substantiated, it amounted to cruelty against husband.

(Para 13) In the light of the law laid down by the Apex Court, we have no hesitation in holding that the false allegations levelled by the wife actually amounted to cruelty providing of justifiable ground to the husband to seek the dissolution of the marriage.

Calling Husband “Mota Hathi” or “Fat Elephant” also ground for divorce:

The Delhi High Court on 22.03.2016 pronounced a judgement (2016(2) RCR (Civil) 695; MANU/DE/0727/2016) according to which

(Para 48) The calling of names and hurling of abuses such as ‘Hathi’, ‘Mota Hathi’ and ‘Mota Elephant’ by the appellant in respect of her husband – even if he was overweight, is bound to strike at his self respect and self esteem. Obviously, the respondent was sensitive to such taunts, and it is not the appellants case that the taunts were made jokingly, or out of love and affection, and without malice.

(Para 49) Such events are clearly destructive of the matrimonial bond and would naturally give rise to a bonafide and genuine belief and apprehension in the mind of the respondent that it is not safe for him to peacefully and mentally continue the relationship with the appellant.

These are a few amongst other examples of Justice being delivered irrespective of gender. The list goes on and on. We as responsible citizens of this nation while advocating for gender equality should respect and support women but there is no sin in expecting the same from them.

-Tushar Kaushik

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