Spouses silence also Cruelty – SC

NEW DELHI: Silence is golden. But married couples shouldn’t take it literally. The Supreme Court has said silence of a partner could amount to cruelty, which under the Hindu Marriage Act is a ground for divorce.

Section 13 of the Act says a person can move a divorce petition if he or she has been treated with cruelty by the spouse or has been deserted for a continuous period of not less than two years.

Delivering its judgment in a matrimonial case, a bench comprising Justices P Sathasivam and Ashok Kumar Ganguly said:

‘‘At times, it may be just an attitude or an approach. Silence in some situations may amount to cruelty. Therefore, cruelty in matrimonial behaviour defies any definition and its categories can never be closed.’’

That is why, the court said, the Act deliberately did not define ‘cruelty’. ‘‘In a marriage, cruelty would obviously mean absence of mutual respect and understanding between spouses which embitters the relationship and often leads to various outbursts of behaviour which can be termed cruel,’’ it said.

This judgment came in a case where the husband after forcing the wife to live separately because of his ill-treatment moved the court for divorce saying she had treated him with cruelty by deserting him. The Mandi district magistrate granted divorce terming the desertion as cruelty on her part.

But Himachal Pradesh HC saw through the design by noticing that the daughter was unambiguous in her statement that her father used to beat her mother and that’s why she left her home. It said whether a husband or wife was cruel to the partner had always to be judged taking into account the facts and circumstances.

SC Judgment >> http://mynation.net/docs/1868-2007/

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