The case was between SAVITRI PANDEY vs. PREM CHANDRA PANDEY regarding cruelty to wife by her husband and their parents. The case was filed under family court then in the High Court, the order passed under Section 27 of the Hindu Marriage Act and for permanent alimony was also set aside. The grievance of the appellant-wife was that the High Court was not justified in setting aside the findings of fact arrived at by the Family Court and that she had proved the existence of cruelty and desertion against the respondent. Later on the petition was filed in the supreme court. The Supreme Court referred to the facts and circumstances of the case along with the laws pertaining to the case. The Supreme Court passed an order on 8/01/2002.
Facts of the case:
On 6.5.1987, the marriage was solemnised between the parties. The appellant lived with the respondent till 21st June,1987. The Appellant stated that the parties have never consummated. After 1987, the parties started living separately. The appellant stated that her parents spent ? 80k on their marriage ceremonies. Along with the money they also gave several ornaments and other valuables. Such were demanded by the respondent. The respondent further demanded of TV, Fridge and other ornaments along with the hard cash of ?10000. The father of the appellant paid ?10k in the first week of June. But after that he was unable to fulfil the other demands made by the Respondent.
As the parents of the Appellants were unable to fulfil the demands made by the respondents along with his parents. The parents of the respondent started torturing the Appellant. The appellant being aggrieved by the attitude of the respondent and his family members filed a petition under Section 13 of the Act. The appellant demanded dissolution of the marriage by the decree of the divorce and other grants such as permanent alimony.
Later the appellant stated before the court that respondent was having illicit relation with a women from Gaya, Bihar. It was further alleged that the respondent has solemnised the marriage with her as well. All these allegations were directly denied by the respondent. Along that he alleged that the appellant was taking advantage for her own wrongs.
When this was put forward before the family court, it led that there was no issue with regard to alleged desertion to be framed. It was therefore proved that the respondent had deserted the appellant and he is entitled to get divorce. Aggrieved by the decision the case moved to the High Court where in the court held that there was no evidence of cruelty was found of wife being treated with cruelty by her husband. The High Court relied on the judgment made by the family court and stated that no evidence was found for stating that petitioner has been deserted.
Treating the petitioner with cruelty is a ground for divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Act. Cruelty has not been defined under the Act but in relation to matrimonial matters it is contemplated as a conduct of such type which endangers the living of the petitioner with the respondent. Cruelty consists of acts which are dangerous to life, limb or health. Cruelty for the purpose of the Act means where one spouse has so treated the other and manifested such feelings towards her or him as to have inflicted bodily injury, or to have caused reasonable apprehension of bodily injury, suffering or to have injured health. Cruelty may be physical or mental. No decree of divorce could be granted on the ground of desertion in the absence of pleading and proof.
Court's Observation and Judgment:
A complete reform of law of marriage to make a uniform law and it should be applicable to all religion or caste. There is no point to continue this marriage which was completely broken down.
A uniform code was suggested for marriage and divorce to get a way out of un-happy situations and they can set themselves free. Marriage between the parties cannot be dissolved only on the averments made by one of the parties that as the marriage between them has broken down, no useful purpose would be served to keep it alive. There may be cases where, on facts, it is found that as the marriage has become dead on account of contributory acts of commission and omission of the parties, no useful purpose would be served by keeping such marriage alive under Section 28(4) is apparently inadequate which facilitates the frustration of the marriages by the unscrupulous litigant spouses.
The distance, the geographical conditions, the financial position of the parties and the time required for filing a regular appeal, if kept in mind, would certainly show that the period of 30 days prescribed for filing the appeal is insufficient and inadequate. A minimum period of 90 days may be prescribed for filing the appeal against any judgment and decree under the Act and any marriage solemnised during the aforesaid period be deemed to be void.