HE Supreme Court Friday ruled that when a spouse’s reputation is sullied among colleagues, superiors and society at large, it would be difficult to expect the condonation of such conduct by the affected party.
A three-judge bench of the apex court made the observation while allowing a plea for the dissolution of the marriage by an army officer whose wife wrote several complaints against him to his superiors and to women’s rights bodies.
“Allegations are levelled by a highly educated spouse and they do have the propensity to irreparably damage the character and reputation of the appellant. When the reputation of the spouse is sullied amongst his colleagues, his superiors and the society at large, it would be difficult to expect condonation of such conduct by the affected party”, the bench, comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy, said.
It rejected the contention of the wife that she made those complaints in order to protect her matrimonial ties, pointing out that this would not justify her persistence to undermine the dignity and reputation of her husband.
“In circumstances like this, the wronged party cannot be expected to continue with the matrimonial relationship and there is enough justification for him to seek separation”, the court said.
The high court had found that the wife had written to various authorities commenting on her husband’s character and conduct, but opined that this could not be construed as cruelty since no court had concluded that the allegations were false or fabricated.
Describing the conduct of the parties against each other as “squabbles” in ordinary middle-class married lives, it set aside the decree for dissolution of marriage and allowed the wife’s suit for restitution of conjugal rights.
The top court, for its part, opined that the high court had erred in describing the broken relationship as normal wear and tear in middle-class married lives.
“It is a definite case of cruelty inflicted by the respondent against the appellant and as such enough justification is found to set aside the impugned judgment of the high court and to restore the order passed by the family court”, the apex court said.
The husband in this case was an army officer with an M.Tech degree while his wife was a faculty member in the Government PG College, Tehri with a Ph.d degree. They were married on 27.9.2006 and lived together for a few months in Visakhapatnam and Ludhiana. Differences apparently cropped up right from the start and a year later, from 15.9.2007, the couple started living apart.