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14 Important Matrimonial Case Laws for Quick Reference

1. Ashok Kumar v. Jyoti, 2018 KHC 2845

Raising wild allegations against the spouse of having illicit relations with an office colleague, per se casting a slur on the character, integrity and morality of the spouse, constitutes cruelty without further more.

2. Raj v. Kavita, AIR 2017 SC 2138

Conduct of a spouse levelling false accusations against the other spouse which would have the effect of lowering his/her reputation in the eyes of his/her peers, would be an act of cruelty. 

3. Narendra v. Meena, AIR 2016 SC 4599

Levelling of absolutely false allegations and that too with regard to an extra-marital life, is quite serious and that can surely be a cause for mental cruelty. 

4. Samar Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh, (2007) 4 SCC 511

The court should bear in mind the physical and mental condition of the parties as well as their social status, and should consider the impact of the personality and conduct of one spouse on the mind of the other, weighing all incidents and quarrels between the spouses from that point of view; further, the conduct alleged must be examined in the light of the complainant's capacity for endurance and the extent to which that capacity is known to the other spouse. Intention is not a necessary element in cruelty. The relief to the party cannot be denied on the ground that there has been no deliberate or wilful ill treatment.

5. Vinita Saxena v. Pankaj Pandit, AIR 2006 SC 1662

Mental cruelty will not depend upon the numerical count of 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 the deleterious effect of it on the mental attitude of the spouse, necessary for maintaining a conducive matrimonial home.

6. A. Jayachandra v. Aneel Kaur, AIR 2005 SC 534

To constitute cruelty, the conduct complained of should be 'grave and weighty' so as to come to the conclusion that the petitioner spouse cannot reasonably be expected to live with the other spouse. It must be something more serious than 'ordinary wear and tear of married life'. The court dealing with the petition for divorce on the ground of cruelty has to bear in mind that the problems before it are those of human beings. The psychological changes in a spouse's conduct have to be borne in mind before disposing of the petition for divorce. However insignificant or trifling, certain conduct may cause pain in the mind of another. But, before the conduct can be called cruelty, it must touch a certain pitch of severity. It is for the court to weigh the gravity. It has to be seen whether the conduct was such that no reasonable person would tolerate it. It has to be considered whether the act or conduct of the spouse is of such a nature that petitioner could endure it as a part of normal human life.

In a delicate human relationship like matrimony, one has to see the probabilities of the case. The concept of proof beyond the shadow of doubt is to be applied to criminal trials and not to civil matters and certainly not to matters of such delicate personal relationship as those of husband and wife. Therefore, one has to see what are the probabilities in a case and legal cruelty has to be found out, not merely as a matter of fact, but as the effect on the mind of the complainant spouse due to the acts or omissions of the other. In the case of mental cruelty, there may not be tangible and direct evidence. In cases where there is no direct evidence, courts are required to probe into the mental process and mental effect of incidents that are brought out in evidence. It is in this view that one has to consider the evidence in matrimonial disputes. 

7. Vijay Kumar v. Neela, AIR 2003 SC 2462

Levelling 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 and such aspersions of perfidiousness attributed to the wife, viewed in the context of an educated Indian wife and judged by Indian conditions and standards, would amount to the worst form of insult and cruelty, sufficient by itself to substantiate cruelty in law. 

8. Parveen Mehta v. Inderjit Mehta : AIR 2002 SC 2582

It is difficult to establish mental cruelty by direct evidence. It is necessarily a matter of inference to be drawn from the facts and circumstances of the case. A feeling of anguish, disappointment and frustration in one spouse caused by the conduct of the other can only be appreciated on assessing the attending facts and circumstances in which the two partners of matrimonial life have been living. The inference has to be drawn from the attending facts and circumstances taken cumulatively. An instance of misbehaviour shall not be taken in isolation. 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 conduct of the other. 

9. V. Bhagat v. D. Bhagat, (1994) 1 SCC 337

Mental cruelty is that conduct which inflicts upon the other party such mental pain and suffering as would make it not possible for that party to live with the other.

10. Iris Paintal v. Autar Singh Paintal, AIR 1988 Delhi 121 

Making false, frivolous and baseless accusation of infidelity and immorality against the spouse to the colleagues of the spouse, amounts to cruelty in law. 

11. Savitri Balchandani v. Mulchand Balchandani, AIR 1987 Delhi 52 

Communication of false, defamatory, scandalous and baseless allegations against the spouse to his/her superiors amounts to cruelty. 

12. Sumanbai v. Anandrao Onkar Panpatil, AIR 1976 Bom 212

There can be no more insulting injury to the wife than her own husband doubting her chastity. 

13. Dastane v. Dastane, AIR 1975 SC 1534

To marry or not to marry and if so whom, may well be a private affair. But, the freedom to break a matrimonial tie is not.

14. Iqbal Kaur v. Pritam Singh : AIR 1963 PH 242

Baseless accusation of immorality against the spouse constitutes mental cruelty.

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