Continued litigation and allegations may amount to cruelty: Supreme Court

  • Gautam Mishra
  • 10:13 AM, 14 Sep 2021

The Supreme Court on Monday allowed divorce to a couple living separately from the date of marriage for almost 20 years stating that a decree of divorce dissolving marriage may also be passed also on account of cruelty, whereas continued litigation and allegations may amount to cruelty.

A bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Hrishikesh Roy noted, "this is one case where both the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage and the ground of cruelty on account of subsequent facts would favour the grant of decree of divorce in favour of the appellant."

The review petition has been filed against the High Court order which noticed some aspects of alleged cruelty and dissolved the marriage by passing a decree of divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of a marriage.

The Counsel for the parties submitted that the respondent was not willing to concede the decree of divorce on any terms even though both the parties are educated and living their separate lives now for almost two decades.

Whereas, counsel for the respondent also stated that she was not disturbed by nor wanted to affect the status of the second marriage, but was unwilling to concede to a scenario where her marriage with the appellant came to an end even though in view of the financial status of the parties no maintenance was being claimed.

The Court held, "that a decree of divorce dissolving the marriage between the parties be passed not only in exercise of powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India on account of irretrievable breakdown of marriage, but also on account of cruelty under Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Act in light of the subsequent conduct of the respondent during the pendency of judicial proceedings at various stages."

The bench also observed that this is not only on account of the fact that the appellant has married a second time but also because the parties are so troubled by each other that they are not willing to even think of living together.

This conduct shows the disintegration of marital unity and thus disintegration of the marriage. In fact, there was no initial integration itself that would allow disintegration afterward. The fact that there have been continued allegations and litigation proceedings and that can amount to cruelty is an aspect taken note of by this court. The marriage had not taken off from its inception and 5 years having been spent in the Trial Court, the Judgment added.

Case Title: Sivasankaran Vs. Santhimeenal