Sunday, December 14, 2014

Even ONE false criminal complaint by wife constitutes matrimonial cruelty, hence Divorce allowed !!

Even ONE false criminal complaint by wife constitutes matrimonial cruelty, hence Divorce allowed !!


"... Wife  retorted  by  filing  a  criminal complaint against the Appellant as well as seven members of his  family  for offences under Section 307 read with Sections 34,  148A,  384,  324  of  the IPC, and Sections 4 and 6 of  the  Dowry  Prohibition  Act,  1961... Appellant-Husband  and  seven  of  his family members were arrested and incarcerated...."

"...We unequivocally find that the Respondent-Wife  had filed a false criminal complaint, and even one such complaint is  sufficient to constitute matrimonial cruelty..."


************** case from SC (Judis) Website ***************


REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL No. 1213  OF 2006


K.SRINIVAS                                   .….. APPELLANT

                       vs

K. SUNITA                                          ….. RESPONDENT

J U D G M E N T


VIKRAMAJIT SEN,J.

1     In this Appeal, counsel for the  Appellant  has  sought  to  draw  our attention to all the arguments that  had  been  addressed  before  the  High Court on behalf of  the  Appellant-Husband  in  support  of  his  claim  for dissolution of his marriage to the Respondent by a decree of  divorce  under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu  Marriage  Act,  1955.    We  have,  however, restricted him to the ground of alleged cruelty on account of the filing  of a criminal complaint by the Respondent against  the  Appellant  and  several members of his family under Sections 498A and 307 of the Indian  Penal  Code (IPC).  We did this for the reason  that  if  this  ground  is  successfully substantiated by the Petitioner, we need not delve any further i.e.  whether a marriage can be dissolved by the Trial Court or  the  High  Court  on  the premise that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.    This  nature  of cruelty, in the wake of filing of a false criminal case  by  either  of  the spouses, has been agitated  frequently  before  this  Court,  and  has  been discussed so comprehensively and thoroughly that  yet  another  Judgment  on this well-settled question of law, would be merely  a  waste  of  time.    A complete discourse and analysis on  this  issue  is  available  in  a  well-reasoned judgment in K. Srinivas Rao vs. D.A. Deepa,  2013(5)  SCC  226,  in which numerous decisions have been cited and discussed.   It is  now  beyond cavil 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.

2     The marriage of the parties was celebrated according  to  Hindu  rites at Hyderabad on 11th February, 1989.  A male child was born to  the  parties on 8th May, 1991, after which the Respondent-Wife,  as  per  her  pleadings, started suffering from Sheehan's  syndrome.    On  the  night  of  29th/30th June, 1995, the Respondent left the matrimonial house and  ever  since  then she has been living with her brother, who is  a  senior  IAS  officer.    On 14th July, 1995, the  Appellant  filed  an  original  petition  praying  for divorce on the ground of cruelty as well as of the  irretrievable  breakdown of their marriage.   The  Respondent-Wife  retorted  by  filing  a  criminal complaint against the Appellant as well as seven members of his  family  for offences under Section 307 read with Sections 34,  148A,  384,  324  of  the IPC, and Sections 4 and 6 of  the  Dowry  Prohibition  Act,  1961.    It  is pursuant to this complaint that  the  Appellant-Husband  and  seven  of  his family members were arrested and incarcerated.    The  Respondent-Wife  also filed a petition under Section  9  of  the  Hindu  Marriage  Act,  1955  for restitution of conjugal rights.    On  30th  June,  2000,  the  Learned  Vth Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge, Mahila Court,  Hyderabad,  acquitted the Appellant and his family members, and this Order has attained  finality. Meanwhile, by its Judgment dated 30th December, 1999, the Family  Court  at Hyderabad, granted a divorce to the Appellant on the ground  of  cruelty  as also irretrievable breakdown  of  marriage;  it  rejected  the  Respondent's petition under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act.     The  Respondent-Wife successfully appealed against the said Judgment in the High  Court,  and  it is this Order dated 7th November, 2005 that is impugned before us.

3     Irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a ground for  divorce  has  not found  statutory  acceptance  till  date.   Under   Article   142   of   the Constitution, the Supreme Court has plenary powers "to pass such  decree  or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in  any  case  or order pending before it".  This power, however, has  not  been  bestowed  by our Constitution on any other Court.    It is  for  these  reasons  that  we have confined arguments only to the aspect of whether the filing of a  false criminal complaint sufficiently proves matrimonial cruelty as would  entitle the injured party to claim dissolution of marriage.   It  will  be  relevant to mention that the Law Commission of India in its Reports in 1978  as  well as in 2009 has recommended the introduction of  irretrievable  breakdown  of marriage as  a  ground  for  dissolution  of  marriage;  the  Marriage  Laws (Amendment) Bill of 2013 incorporating the  ground  has  even  received  the assent of the Rajya Sabha.  It is, however,  highly  debatable  whether,  in the Indian situation, where there is rampant oppression  of  women,  such  a ground would at all be expedient.   But that controversy will be  considered by the Lok Sabha.

4.    In the case in hand,  learned  counsel  for  the  Respondent-Wife  has vehemently contended that it is not possible to label  the  wife's  criminal complaint detailed above as a false or  a  vindictive  action.     In  other words, the acquittal  of  the  Appellant  and  his  family  members  in  the criminal complaint does not by itself, automatically and  justifiably,  lead to the conclusion that the complaint was false; that only one complaint  was preferred  by  the  Respondent-Wife,  whereas,  in   contradistinction,   in K.Srinivas Rao a series of complaints by the wife had been preferred.    The argument was premised on the averment that the investigation may  have  been faulty or the prosecution may have been  so  careless  as  to  lead  to  the acquittal, but the acquittal would not always indicate that the  Complainant had intentionally filed a false case.  What should be kept  in  perspective, it is reasonably  argued,  that  the  Complainant  is  not  the  controlling conductor in this Orchestra, but only one of the musicians who must  deliver her rendition as and when and how she is  called  upon  to  do.    Secondly, according to the learned counsel, the position would have  been  appreciably different if a specific  finding  regarding  the  falsity  of  the  criminal complaint was returned, or if the Complainant or a  witness  on  her  behalf had  committed  perjury  or  had  recorded  a  contradictory  or  incredible testimony.   Learned counsel for the  Respondent-Wife  states  that  neither possibility has manifested itself here and, therefore, it  would  be  unfair to the Respondent-Wife to conclude  that  she  had  exhibited  such  cruelty towards the Appellant and her in-laws that would justify the dissolution  of her marriage.

5     The Respondent-Wife has admitted in  her  cross-examination  that  she did not mention all the incidents on which her Complaint is  predicated,  in her statement under Section 161 of the Cr.P.C.   It is  not  her  case  that she had actually narrated all these facts to the Investigating Officer,  but that he had neglected to mention them.   This, it seems to  us,  is  clearly indicative  of  the  fact  that  the  criminal  complaint  was  a  contrived afterthought.    We affirm the view of the  High  Court  that  the  criminal complaint was "ill advised". Adding thereto is  the  factor  that  the  High Court had been informed  of  the  acquittal  of  the  Appellant-Husband  and members of his family.  In these circumstances,  the  High  Court  ought  to have concluded that the Respondent-Wife knowingly and intentionally filed  a false complaint, calculated to embarrass and incarcerate the  Appellant  and seven  members  of  his  family  and  that   such   conduct   unquestionably constitutes  cruelty  as  postulated  in  Section  13(1)(ia)  of  the  Hindu Marriage Act.

6     Another argument which has been articulated on behalf of  the  learned counsel for the Respondent is that the filing of the criminal complaint  has not been pleaded in the  petition  itself.   As  we  see  it,  the  criminal complaint was filed by the  wife  after  filing  of  the  husband's  divorce petition, and being subsequent events could have been  looked  into  by  the Court.   In any event, both the parties were fully aware of  this  facet  of cruelty which was allegedly suffered by the  husband.    When  evidence  was lead, as also when arguments were addressed, objection had not  been  raised on behalf of the Respondent-Wife that this aspect of cruelty was beyond  the pleadings.   We are, therefore, not impressed by  this  argument  raised  on her behalf.

7     In these circumstances, we find that the Appeal is  well  founded  and deserves to be allowed.  We unequivocally find that the Respondent-Wife  had filed a false criminal complaint, and even one such complaint is  sufficient to constitute matrimonial cruelty.

8     We, accordingly, dissolve the marriage of the  parties  under  Section 13(1)(ia) of  the  Hindu  Marriage  Act.    The  parties  shall  bear  their respective costs.

                       ...............................J. [VIKRAMAJIT SEN]



                       ...............................J. [PRAFULLA C. PANT]

New Delhi;

19th November, 2014.



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Father of a lovely daughter, criminal in the eyes of a wife, son of an compassionate elderly mother, old timer who hasn't given up, Male, activist