Nothing can be more cruel than denying paternity of one’s own child, the Delhi High Court Wednesday observed while granting divorce to an estranged couple living separately for more than 10 years.
A bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna’s observation came in a judgment upholding a family court’s order granting divorce to a man on the ground of cruelty. It also held that the family court wrongly concluded that there was no desertion on the part of the woman, and granted divorce to the man on this ground too.
While dismissing the woman’s appeal challenging the family court’s decision to grant divorce, the high court said there was no error in the conclusion that the acts of the wife clearly amounted to cruelty towards the husband and his family members which entitled him to divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act.
However, the bench was critical about the man’s behaviour towards his wife when she informed him through a text message about her pregnancy.
It noted that after the woman left her matrimonial home in April 2013, she informed the man about her pregnancy in response to which he wrote a message denying the paternity of the child.
“As has been observed by the judge, family courts, nothing could have been more cruel than denying paternity of own child. No doubt, the conduct of the respondent (man) was not only unreasonable but had the underlying aspersion about the character of the appellant (woman).
“However, the way to deal with wrongful conduct of the appellant could have been through discussions or any such sensible way considering that not only were the parties well educated but even their families had a good educational and social status, all being qualified professionally and having certain social status. The way the respondent responded to the text message sent by the appellant, cannot be justified,” the high court said.
The couple got married in April 2012 and a child was born in November 2013. Differences cropped up between the couple immediately after marriage and the woman left her matrimonial home in April 2013.
The woman had filed criminal cases, including those of cruelty and dowry harassment, against her husband and in-laws but she was unable to justify any of the allegations of cruelty against the man and his family members, the high court noted.
It said her conduct of immediately resorting to criminal litigations only reflected her keenness for not attempting any reconciliation but to rush to make complaints not only against the man but also his parents and married sister.
“We find that the observations of the judge, family court, rightly summed up that the respondent-husband was not willing to mend his ways and so did the appellant-wife adopt the pattern to harass and thus, both the sides were out to persecute each other,” the bench said.
The high court said the woman has withdrawn from the man because of skirmishes over routine family matters and she does not find it conducive to continue living in matrimonial relationship.
She had an animus deserendi (spouse’s firm intention to bring cohabitation permanently to an end) to leave the matrimonial relationship in April, 2013 itself and was not willing for any reconciliation thereafter. In the given circumstances, the family court judge wrongly concluded there was no desertion on the woman’s part, it said.
The high court said every marriage rests on mutual trust, affection, compatibility and congeniality and such were the differences that they led to the inevitable separation since April, 2013 and despite 10 years having elapsed, there is no possibility of reconciliation.
“The very fact that the parties were able to live together barely for one year and since April, 2013, they have been living separately proves that the parties were unable to sustain their matrimonial relationship. The gravamen of any marriage is the succour and the peace that the couple derives from the company of each other. Long separation and deprivation of conjugal relationships, with almost an impossible chance of reconciliation, is an extreme kind of cruelty,” it said.