Cruelty as a ground for divorce has been defined as wilful and unjustifiable conduct of the character that causes danger to life, limb or health, bodily or mental. The act of the spouse is such that it causes apprehension of mind of the other spouse for his/her mental welfare then it amounts to mental cruelty as stated in Maya Devi v. Jagdish Prasad
The Special Marriage Act, 1954 under Section 27, provides for 12 grounds for divorce and in it one is cruelty, The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936 under Section 32, provides for 11 grounds for divorce and cruelty is one in it. The Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939 under Section 2 provides for 8 grounds on which a divorce can be obtained under the Muslim law and one of them is cruelty. In many judgements Judges have defined as to what amounts to cruelty. These definitions are not general but they usually relate to the facts of the particular case.
When a wife humiliating her husband, taunting him on his physical in-capabilities, denying physical relationship with him, neglects and insults him, deliberately cooks food which her husband does not like, visiting her parent’s family against her husband’s will, undergoing an abortion despite her husband does not approve it, threatens to commit suicide, refuses to do household work, all these are effect on the husband’s mind and amount to mental cruelty. Similar actions relate to husband too like when she is ill husband denies medical treatment to her, demands dowry, demanding her to bring money or articles from her parent’s house, refusing her to visit her parents etc.
In Samar Ghosh Vs. Jaya Ghosh, (26 March, 2007) it was held that when there is absence of mutual respect and understanding between the spouses it would obviously means cruelty. Mental cruelty is a state of mind and a feeling of deep anguish, and disappointment, in one spouse which is caused by the conduct of other. Only the trivial quarrels and normal wear and tear that happens in married life would not be adequate ground to grant divorce on the ground of mental cruelty.
Precondition for mental cruelty is not just staying together under one roof. Spouse can cause mental cruelty even while not staying together in same house this was held in k. Srinivas Rao Vs. D. A. Deepa (22 February, 2013). With regard to time period to get divorce on cruelty Section 14 of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 states that any petition for divorce has to be presented only after one year of marriage and not before that and the court shall also take into consideration the interest of any children out of the marriage.
by Sushma Javare.