Vindictiveness to erode father-daughter relationship act of extreme cruelty: Delhi High Court

The high court said no matter how abysmal the differences may be between the spouses, in no realm can the act of the aggrieved spouse of igniting animosity and hostility in the child can be justifiable.
Last Updated 01 March 2024, 14:39 IST

New Delhi: Vindictiveness aimed at eroding a father-daughter relationship is an act of extreme cruelty to the father and gross inhumanity to the child, the Delhi High Court has held while granting a divorce decree in favour of a man on the ground of cruelty inflicted on him by his estranged wife.

The high court said no matter how abysmal the differences may be between the spouses, in no realm can the act of the aggrieved spouse of igniting animosity and hostility in the child can be justifiable.

“Such vindictiveness aimed to erode a father-daughter relationship is not only an act of extreme cruelty to the father but also gross inhumanity to the child,” a bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna said in a judgment passed on February 28 and made available on court’s website on Friday.

The high court passed the order on a plea by a man challenging a family court’s decision denying him divorce.

“We, hereby conclude that the appellant (man) has been able to prove cruelty at the hands of the respondent (woman). We hereby set-aside the impugned judgment dated October 19, 2018 and grant divorce on the ground of cruelty under (Hindu Marriage Act),” the bench said.

The couple had got married in May 1998 and two daughters were born to them.

The man, who was earlier serving in the Indian Army, claimed there were issues between them and the woman had left her matrimonial home several times and that she used to call police on "false and frivolous" pretext because of which he was subjected to humiliation, atrocities and cruelty.

However, the woman claimed that despite being a highly qualified engineer, the man was egoistic and short-tempered. He would often subject her and their two daughters to "physical and mental violence", she alleged.

She claimed her husband ill-treated her despite her being respectful to the elders in the family and discharging her duties responsibly. She claimed she left her matrimonial home with her children after being thrown out and started living in her parental home.

The man claimed his estranged wife falsely accused him of being in an adulterous relationship, while the wife insisted her allegation was true.

The high court observed that the differences between two adults may arise due to myriad reasons, some may be temperamental or factual, but the woman's irrationality was brought forth by her conduct of involving an eight-year-old child in their disputes.

“The petitioner and the respondent may not have been able to generate mutual affection, respect and understanding due to their differences, but it does not justify the act of the respondent in embroiling their minor daughter in their fights. Taking a small daughter along with her with a specific design to the house of the appellant and then to make allegations of adultery and call the police, is an act of ruining the psyche of a child and turning her against her father,” it said.

The court said a person may be a “bad husband” but that does not lead to a necessary conclusion of him being a “bad father”.

The act of the woman in trying to turn the children against their father and even making the daughter write a complaint against him is a clear case of “parental alienation” which in itself is an “act of grave mental cruelty”, the bench said.

“Nothing can be more painful than experiencing one's own flesh and blood i.e., the child, rejecting him or her. Such wilful alienation of the child amounts to mental cruelty,” it said.

The court concluded there was no chance of a reconciliation between the two.

“This dead relationship has become infested with acrimony, irreconcilable differences and protracted litigations; any insistence to continue this relationship would only be perpetuating further cruelty upon both the parties,” the bench said.

(Published 01 March 2024, 14:39 IST)

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