Mental harassment caused by his wife is sufficient cause for a husband to seek a decree of divorce, the Supreme Court has held.
"Physical violence is not absolutely essential to constitute cruelty and a consistent course of conduct inflicting immeasurable mental agony and torture may well constitute cruelty within the meaning of Section 10 of the Act," a bench of justices Arijit Pasayat and Dalveer Bhandari said.
The bench passed the observations while dismissing an appeal filed by a woman, Mayadevi, challenging the divorce decree granted by the trial court to her husband Jagdish Prasad.
The trial court in Rajasthan's Jodhpur district granted divorce on an application moved by Prasad who complained of constant mental harassment by his wife from the time they were married in April 17, 1993.
The harassment had reached to such heights that Mayadevi, after threatening to implicate her husband in false cases, allegedly killed their three children Neha, Anu and Khemraj by throwing them into a well.
She was convicted for the murders, but her appeal against the conviction is pending before the High Court.
However, after her release on bail, Mayadevi filed a complaint of dowry harassment against Prasad but the same was dismissed by the court after the local police gave a clean chit to him.
In the meantime, Prasad obtained a decree of divorce from a matrimonial court against his wife on the grounds of constant cruelty and the Rajasthan High Court confirmed the decree following which she filed a SLP before the apex court.
The apex court, too, was unconvinced with Mayadevi's argument that she had never indulged in any mental harassment of Prasad as alleged and that an appeal against her conviction for the murder of her children was pending.
The bench pointed out that the instances of cruelty highlighted by the trial court and also by the High Court clearly prove that the husband was subjected to mental and physical cruelty.
Hence there was no reason to interfere with the decision of the two subordinate courts, the Bench said while dismissing the woman's appeal.