Filing false complaints against husband amounts to cruelty. Such Acts of Wife have effect of lowering his reputation in the eyes of his peer- Supreme Court
ABCAUS Case Law Citation:
ABCAUS 1221 (2017) (04) SC
Important Case Laws Cited/relied upon:
Srinivas Rao v. D.A. Deepa 2013 (5) SCC 226.
Ravi Kumar v. Julmidevi 2010 (4) SCC 476.
Brief Facts of the Case:
In the instant case the husband had left the matrimonial home after eleven years of marriage. Soon thereafter, on March, 200 he filed a petition for grant of a decree of divorce dissolving the marriage.
Wife had also filed a suit praying for injunction that the husband should not be permitted to enter the matrimonial home. In Nov, 2011 she filed a complaint to the State Women Commission (SWC) making serious allegations against the husband. It was alleged that she was beaten by her husband and his family members many times for not fulfilling the demand of dowry. There were allegations that she was kept like an orphan and twice attempts had been made to set her on fire and attempted to burn her and engaged goondas to eliminate her. Thereafter, in Dec-2000, she sent a similar telegram to the Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court as well as the Superintendent of Police. Then finally, she send a letter to the Chief Minister.
The matter was referred to the police. On investigation by the police, the allegations were found to be totally false. Thereafter, the wife filed a complaint against her husband and 3 other persons alleging house trespass against them and that she had been assaulted and threatened to leave the house. In this case also, the final report of the police is that the complaint is baseless and false and the injuries were self inflicted.
The husband moved an amendment application in the divorce petition incorporating all these facts and alleging that due to filing of the false complaints before various authorities he had been subjected to cruelty by the wife. The Trial Court dismissed the petition. The appeal filed by the husband was also dismissed by the High Court.
Contentions of the Parties:
Before the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the counsel for the Husband contended that the acts of the wife in levelling defamatory allegations and filing false complaints against the husband amounted to cruelty. On the other hand, counsel for the wife submitted that her client was not at fault and cruelty had not been proved. It was further submitted that the wife wanted the status of being a legally married woman and prayed that the appeal be dismissed.
Observations made by the Apex Court:
It was noted that the findings of the police had attained finality and there was no criminal case pending against the husband on the date. According to the Apex Court, it was more than obvious that the allegations levelled by the wife were false and were levelled after the divorce petition had been filed and the wife might have been in an agitated state of mind. However, the Hon’ble Court opined that that it did not give her a right to make defamatory statements against the husband. The falseness of the allegations was borne out from the fact that the police did not even find it a fit case to be tried. After the police filed its cancellation report, the wife kept silent and after 11 years she filed a protest petition.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that cruelty can never be defined with exactitude. What is cruelty will depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that in the instant case, it was apparent that the wife made reckless, defamatory and false accusations against her husband, his family members and colleagues, which would definitely have the effect of lowering his reputation in the eyes of his peers. Mere filing of complaints is not cruelty, if there are justifiable reasons to file the complaints. Merely because no action is taken on the complaint or after trial the accused is acquitted may not be a ground to treat such accusations of the wife as cruelty within the meaning of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 ( ‘the Act’). However, if it is found that the allegations are patently false, then there can be no manner of doubt that the said conduct of a spouse levelling false accusations against the other spouse would be an act of cruelty. In the present case, all the allegations were found to be false. Later, she filed another complaint alleging that her husband along with some other persons had trespassed into her house and assaulted her. The police found, on investigation, that not only was the complaint false but also the injuries were self inflicted by the wife. Thereafter, proceedings were launched against the wife under Section 182 of IPC.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court expressed it dissent with the judgment of the High Court in holding that held that there was no reason to hold that the criminal complaint filed by the respondent-wife was false and mala fide as the wife itself had very fairly stated that the husband had always fulfilled his paternal obligations to his son and is continuing to pay maintenance to his wife as fixed by the court.
Though the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the acts of the wife in filing false complaints against the husband amounted to cruelty, however, keeping in view the the requirements of the wife to have a decent accommodation to live. Her son and daughter-in-law may not continue to live with her forever. Therefore, some permanent arrangement has to be made for her alimony and residence. Keeping in view the status of the parties, we direct that the husband shall pay to the wife a sum of Rs.50,00,000/- (Rupees Fifty Lakhs only) as one time
It was held that the acts of the wife in filing false complaints against the husband amounted to cruelty. Keeping in view the status of the parties, the husband was directed to pay to the wife a sum of Rs. 50,00,000/- as permanent alimony. The husband was also directed to ensure that a flat of the value up to Rs.1,00,00,000/- (Rupees One Crore Only) be transferred in the name of his wife and till it is provided, she shall continue to live in the house in which she is residing at present.