A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court has observed that constant and repeated taunts of the husband that his wife is not up to his expectations and also making comparisons with other women would certainly constitute mental cruelty as contemplated under Section 10(x) of the Divorce Act, 1869.
The Bench while disposing of a matrimonial case recently also observed that it was difficult to give a comprehensive definition of cruelty, as it changes according to the advancement of social concepts and standards of living. Continuous ill-treatment, cessation of marital intercourse, studied neglect, indifference on the part of the husband, and an assertion on the part of the husband that the wife was unchaste, were all factors that would lead to mental or legal cruelty.
The court noted that in physical cruelty, there could be tangible and direct evidence, but in the case of mental cruelty, there may not be direct evidence. To constitute cruelty, the conduct complained of should be “grave and weighty” so as to come to the conclusion that the spouse could not be reasonably expected to live with the other spouse.
The Bench added that physical violence was 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. Mental cruelty may consist of verbal abuses and insults by using filthy and abusive language leading to constant disturbance of the mental peace of the other party.