The Delhi High Court has observed that making false accusations of dowry harassment or rape against a husband’s family members constitutes “extreme cruelty” and cannot be tolerated.
The court emphasised that the foundation of any marital relationship is cohabitation and conjugal intimacy, and the absence of these elements indicates that the marriage cannot survive, amounting to an act of extreme cruelty.
These observations were made while rejecting an appeal by a woman challenging a family court’s decision to grant her husband a divorce decree on grounds of cruelty. The bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna noted that the couple had been living separately since 2014, clearly demonstrating their inability to maintain a marital relationship. This nearly nine-year separation was deemed a severe form of mental cruelty, justifying the termination of the marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act.
The court also emphasised that false complaints made by the wife against her husband constituted mental cruelty towards him. Accusing the husband’s family members of dowry harassment and rape, only for these allegations to be proven false, was considered an extreme act of cruelty that could not be forgiven.
The court further mentioned that the couple had spent barely 13 months living together and had failed to sustain their matrimonial relationship. Depriving each other of companionship and conjugal intimacy was seen as an extreme act of cruelty.
Additionally, the court noted that the woman had filed a criminal case against her husband and brother-in-law, accusing them of rape and cruelty. However, both men were acquitted of all charges by a trial court. The court pointed out that, despite filing an appeal against the acquittal, this did not erase the trial court’s findings that the allegations were manipulative and false. It also came to light that the appellant had consulted a lawyer before making the complaint that led to the FIR being registered.
The couple had married in November 2012 but had been living apart since February 2014. The husband claimed that the wife failed to fulfil her household responsibilities from the beginning of their marriage, frequently visited her parents’ home without informing him, threatened to die by suicide, and made false accusations against him and his family members. The woman, on her part, alleged that she was physically and mentally harassed and humiliated by her mother-in-law and was subjected to physical abuse by her husband.