The habit of stealing money from house and getting arrested in a debit card fraud case are sufficient to show that wife had inflicted mental cruelty upon husband in a divorce case, the Bombay High Court has ruled.
"Looking at the social status of the parties and the strata of society to which they belong, the enormity and magnitude of this act is such that it clearly constitutes cruelty," observed Justices V L Achilya and Vijaya Tahilramani while upholding a family court order granting divorce to a man.
The court also dismissed the appeal filed by wife against the family court judgement of 2008, stating that her conduct clearly established cruelty meted out to the spouse.
The man had alleged that his wife was in the habit of lying to him and stealing money from house and bank by forging cheques. He further alleged that she had also been arrested in a criminal case for encashing Rs 37,000 by misusing the debit card of her colleague.
"This single incident (stealing money by misusing debit card) by itself is of such a serious nature that it would make it impossible for the respondent (husband) to live with the appellant (wife) without mental agony, torture or distress. It is sufficient to entitle the respondent to secure divorce on the ground of cruelty," said the bench.
"It has come on record that the appellant (wife) is continuously indulging in acts which were detrimental to the harmony of marital life and her behaviour is such as to render it impossible for the couple to live together. There is no effort on the part of the appellant to change for the better, in fact on the other hand day by day her illegal activities are getting more and more serious," noted the judges.
"The effect of the conduct of the appellant cannot be said to be ordinary wear and tear of married life, but in fact her conduct is so grave and weighty that the respondent cannot reasonably be expected to continue to live with her. Thus we find no merit in the appeal and dismiss it," the bench said.
This is probably the first case in which the son had deposed against mother and father against daughter. These family members had tendered evidence against the appellant saying she was in the habit of stealing, the court noted in a recent judgement.
The couple had got married in 1991 and a son was born to them. In 2008, the man filed for divorce.
He alleged that his wife was in the habit of lying and not following the rules and regulations of the house. He also said that he had found money short which was kept in the cupboard.
The man said that in June 1995, his wife was caught red-handed by his sister while taking money from the cupboard. He alleged that she was in the habit of forging signatures and withdrawing money from bank account of others.
His sister said in her evidence that she had personally caught the appellant while stealing money. She deposed saying that the appellant had forged her signature and removed money from bank account.
The witness said that the appellant (wife) was not cooking food for her husband and son since the last five years although she was cooking food for herself in the same house.
"The fact that the appellant was not cooking food shows that she was not following the rules and regulations of the house. The admission of the appellant that her husband had engaged a cook further corroborates the case of the husband," said the court.
"The evidence of husband shows that the behaviour of wife was not according to the set standards accepted by the society and her behaviour of not giving food to her husband and son in the year preceding the divorce petition amounted to cruelty," the judges observed.
The father of the appellant gave evidence saying he had tried to reason with his daughter to change her behaviour but she raised her hand towards him and hit him hard. This was corroborated by her brother. Both said that the appellant had cultivated the habit of stealing money and ornaments.
They stated that the appellant was arrested in a debit card fraud case and was in jail for five days and that the husband had tolerated every nonsense of the wife for the sake of their child. They specifically stated that they have never seen such a gentleman in their life.