Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Punjab and Haryana HC- Insulting a spouse for his physical disability amounts to mental cruelty for the purpose of seeking divorce

Court:  Punjab and Haryana high court at Chandigarh

Bench:  Justice Ritu Bahri and Justice Nidhi Gupta

Case No(s): FAO-M-190 of 2010 (O&M) and FAO No. 3554 of 2016

Case Title: Karamjit Singh Vs. Davinder Kaur

Date of Judgement:  13 September 2022

Act /Law: Matrimonial Dispute/ Divorce matter under section 10,11,12,13,13A & 13B OF Hindu Marriage Act

Brief Synopsis

Mocking and insulting spouse for disability amounts to mental cruelty and the affected party can be granted divorce on this ground, as per the recentl judgement of Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh.

The high court passed the order while allowing an appeal filed by a man whose wife tauntingly called him, a “lula-langra” (a derogatory term used for a physically-challenged person) in front of his family and friends.“There is sufficient evidence on record in form of the above-mentioned testimonies where it is established that the respondent ill-treated the appellant for his handicap. 

"Taunting a person for his handicap constitutes the most inhumane kind of cruelty ,” the bench held,  while allowing an appeal filed by a man from Punjab's Hoshiarpur district against the order dated April 21, 2010, passed by the Hoshiarpur family court, whereby his petition seeking divorce from his wife was dismissed.

The couple was married in March 2004 at Nakodar as per Sikh rites and they had one son later. The appellant husband was disabled as a result of polio during childhood. After around 8-10 days of marriage, his wife started insulting him, mocking him publicly for his physical disability, and tauntingly called him 'lula-langra' in front of his family and friends. She even used to snatch his crutches and physically throw him on the ground in the presence of his friends and relatives. 

As such, the appellant was undergoing tremendous mental agony and trauma, as well as physical abuse. In September 2004, she left the appellant's company and started living with her family. Even their son was born at his in-laws' house. According to the appellant, he tried his best to bring her back, but she never returned. Finally, in 2008, he filed a divorce petition before the family court, which was dismissed. 

In his appeal against the family court's decision, the appellant-husband argued that the lower court had committed a grave error in overlooking the testimonies of these above said witnesses wherein each of them categorically deposed that the respondent used to insult him in their presence and use derogatory words and taunts against him, as well as physically manhandled him and made him a laughing stock due to his physical disability which resulted in mental cruelty to him. The appellant's wife, however, denied all the allegations.

After hearing all the parties the bench observed that it is not in dispute that the parties have been living separately since 2005. Thus, it is a dead marriage for all intents and purposes. Admittedly, all mediation attempts between the parties have failed. Therefore, this marriage is a mere legal fiction surviving only on paper.

The bench also observed that the family court order is silent over the fact that the wife had not just taunted the appellant for his physical handicap, but also pushed him around and threw him on the ground by pulling away his crutches.

"Accordingly, the findings of the Hoshiarpur court in this regard are held to be erroneous and contrary to the evidence on record, and are as such, reversed," observed the HC while granting divorce. The bench, however, has ordered the man to pay an amount of Rs 25 lakh to his wife as a full and final settlement for her and their son's maintenance.

Read the embedded order below:

No comments:

Post a Comment