Charges by estranged spouse affecting other’s career amounts to mental cruelty: Supreme Court

It forms a ground for divorce, says Bench in a verdict on an appeal filed by an Army officer

Published - February 28, 2021 10:37 pm IST

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File

Allegations of an estranged spouse which has the effect of sullying the other’s reputation and career amounts to ‘mental cruelty’ and forms a ground for divorce, the Supreme Court said in a recent judgment.

The result of this ‘mental cruelty’ must be such that continuation of marital relationship would be impossible. In other words, the wronged person can hardly be expected to condone the other.

“The degree of tolerance will vary from one couple to another and the court will have to bear in mind the background, the level of education and also the status of the parties, in order to determine whether the cruelty alleged is sufficient to justify dissolution of marriage,” a three-judge Bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul observed in a judgment on February 26.

The judgment came in an appeal filed by an Army officer whose estranged wife had filed a series of complaints against him with his superiors and even the Army Chief.

A Family Court had accepted his plea for dissolution of marriage on the ground of mental cruelty on her part. The court had rubbished her claim of adultery against him. The court refused to accept her plea for restitution of conjugal rights.

However, the Uttarakhand High Court, on her appeal, dismissed the trouble between the couple as “squabbles in an ordinary middle-class marriage.” It set aside the lower court’s finding of mental cruelty. This time, the husband appealed to the apex court.

The Supreme Court upheld the family court’s finding of mental cruelty.

“The allegations are levelled by a highly educated spouse and they do have the propensity to irreparably damage the character and reputation of the appellant [husband]. 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 apex court concluded.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.