Allegations by estranged spouse affecting other’s reputation and career is mental cruelty

Case: Joydeep Majumdar v. Bharti Jaiswal Majumdar

The husband was an army officer, who filed a divorce petition, on grounds that he was subjected to numerous malicious complaints by the wife, which has affected his career, lead to loss of reputation and amounted to mental cruelty.

A Family Court had accepted his plea for dissolution of marriage.The court also denied her claim of adultery against him and refused to accept her plea for restitution of conjugal rights.On her appeal to the Uttarakhand High Court, the court dismissed the trouble between the couple as “squabbles in an ordinary middle-class marriage.”

It set aside the lower court’s finding of mental cruelty.

The present case is an appeal filed by an Army officer whose estranged wife had filed a series of complaints against him with his superiors and even the Army Chief in the Supreme Court.On 26th January, a three judge bench of the Supreme Court, consisting of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Hrishikesh Roy heard the appeal.

The Bench stated that the degree of tolerance varies from one couple to another and the court has to keep in mind the background, the level of education and the status of the parties, in order to determine whether the cruelty alleged is sufficient to justify dissolution of marriage.It was further stated that the result of the mental cruelty must be such that continuation of marital relationship would be impossible.

In other words the wronged person, cannot be expected to condone the other.Keeping in mind the education and reputation of the Army officer, the court held that allegations of an estranged spouse which has the effect of damaging the other’s reputation and career amounts to ‘mental cruelty’ and forms a ground for divorce.

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