Legal Analysis of Cruelty against Husband

Aditya Pratap is a lawyer practicing in the Bombay High Court. He can be reached at aditya@adityapratap.com

Introduction to the concept of Cruelty against Husband

In India, marriage is a union of a girl and a boy to attain social status in society. With the increase in marriages every day, sadly, the breakdown of marriages in the society have also been increased. Cruelty is a term whose definition may change as and when the circumstances change. It is a word with much depth.

In general, it means inhuman treatment causing physical or mental suffering to any person. Cruelty is the main ground to seek divorce as defined under ‘Sec 13(1) (i-a)’ of ‘The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955’ and the party who is filing a case must prove that living between husband and wife became impossible.

What Constitutes As Cruelty To Husband?

With respect to cruelty against the husband, a unique term has been devised in terms of mental distress, which is known as ‘psychological terrorism’. In lieu of the same, following are the instances which would constitute as cruelty against the husband by wife:

  • Harassing the husband for constant demand of money for settlement of her paternal family members;
  • Constant sending of money to her paternal family members of which the husband has no knowledge or without his permission;
  • Continuing illicit relations with her pre-marital boyfriend or developing extramarital relations at her workplace or in the neighborhood;
  • A showcase of aggressive and uncontrollable behavior;
  • Demonstration of inhuman treatment towards her in-laws or addressing them with filthy words or loud voice coupled with the intention to create a scene of public humiliation, intimidating or terrorizing them;
  • Habitual dishonesty towards husband and in-laws in matters where the latter have the right to be informed about in order to uphold the family’s good name;
  • Demand for transfer of proprietary rights in her name;
  • Attempts for alienating the husband from his parents and relatives persuading him to abandon his old and aged parents;
  • Visiting her parent’s home frequently without appropriate reasons along with the children born out their wedlock and thus denying the husband access from his offsprings;
  • Misrepresentation of facts and information of the crimes committed against her;
  • Defaming her in-laws in the neighborhood by spreading false stories of harassment;
  • Dictating her husband and excessive involvement in his personal and professional life;
  • Concealment or suppression of material facts in relation to her medical conditions which if revealed may result in negating her marriage;
  • Wife’s parents being cynically manipulative, misrepresenting and frequently changing their stands and opinions in order to utilize every opportunity to embarrass her husband and relatives;
  • Opposition to every suggestion made by the husband for settling a dispute related to the restitution of conjugal rights;
  • Misrepresentation of her financial condition for extracting more money;
  • Denial of normal courtesy and respect to the husband by wife’s relatives.

Is A Man Entitled To Divorce On The Ground Of Cruelty?

Yes, a man is entitled to divorce if he is inflicted with any kind of cruelty. In the case of Mayadevi vs. Jagdish Prasad, the respondent (a husband) filed an application for divorce after repeatedly facing cruelty by the wife. The husband alleged that the wife did not provide food to him and his children and instead blamed the husband and his family members. The Supreme Court held that either of the spouses (wife as well as the husband) facing any kind of mental cruelty becomes eligible to apply for a divorce on the ground of cruelty.

Misuse of Laws by Wife

There have been instances where a wife institutes false complaints against her husband. In such cases, an Indian husband has no remedy since the laws of India are tilted towards in favor of women. Unlike other laws in India, the burden of proof under the laws pertaining to the protection of women lies in the accused. It is the responsibility of the accused to prove himself innocent. Once an FIR is lodged against the husband or his family members, they are immediately taken into custody, without being given an opportunity to be heard.

Legislative Protection Available To Husbands

The law on cruelty assumes that the wife is always a victim. However, the growing misuse of this assumption has given rise to protection to the husband. The only legal recourse available to the husband is to file a counter case against their wives. Following are the sections, under which the husband can file counter suits:

  1. Section 191 IPC for giving false evidence,
  2. Section 192 IPC for the fabrication of evidence,
  3. Section 196 IPC for using evidence known to be false,
  4. Section 209 for dishonestly making false claims in court,
  5. Section 211 for the false charge of offense made with the intent to injure.

It is unquestionable that women are subjected to cruelty, but what needs to be ensured is that laws protecting women shall not be made wide enough for them to be misused.

About the Author – Aditya Pratap

Aditya Pratap is a lawyer practising in Mumbai. He argues cases in the Bombay High Court, Sessions and Magistrate Courts, along with appearances before RERA, NCLT and the Family Court. For further information one may visit his website adityapratap.in or view his YouTube Channel to see his interviews. Questions can be emailed to him at aditya@adityapratap.com.

Cases argued by Aditya Pratap can be viewed here.

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