Character Assassination Constitute Mental Cruelty

The Unsubstantiated Accusation And Character Assassination By One Spouse Against The Other Would Constitute Mental Cruelty: Kerala High Court

In Sabitha Unnikrishnan vs. Vineet Das, the Kerala High Court on 28th June, 2021 observed that levelling disgusting accusation of unchastity and attributing aspersions of perfidiousness to the wife would undoubtedly amount to worst form of mental cruelty and noted Inasmuch as the mental cruelty on this ground has been established, it is immaterial whether the allegation of physical assault has been substantiated or not in order to grant a decree for dissolution of marriage on the ground of cruelty.

This matrimonial appeal filed by Sabitha Unnikrishnan (Appellant) is directed against the judgment of the Family Court, Mavelikkara dismissing the original petition filed by her against her husband, Vineet Das (Respondent) for divorce on the ground of cruelty and desertion.

It is the case of the Appellant that the Respondent made false allegations of unchastity against her and the said allegations were spread among his relatives as well as the co-workers of her father. This act of Respondent lowered her reputation in the eyes of her co-workers and relatives and thus, she submits that she cannot live with him. She also alleged that 1/3/2012, the Respondent deserted her with permanent intention to break the marital relationship between them. At this juncture, the Appellant filed the Original Petition for dissolution of marriage on the ground of cruelty and desertion. The Family Court found that the Appellant failed to prove cruelty and desertion and accordingly the original petition was dismissed. Challenging that judgment, the current appeal is sought.

The High Court held that:

  1. It is settled that physical violence is not absolutely essential to constitute cruelty; a cruelty complained of may be mental or physical.
  2. The Court relied on Vijaykumar Ramchandra Bhate v. Neela Vijaykumar Bhate and noted that the unsubstantiated accusation and character assassination by one spouse against the other would constitute mental cruelty.
  3. The Respondent has failed to substantiate the imputation made by him that the Appellant is an unchaste woman.
  4. Levelling disgusting accusation of unchastity and attributing aspersions of perfidiousness to the wife would undoubtedly amount to worst form of mental cruelty.
  5. As the ground of mental cruelty is established, it is immaterial whether the allegation of physical assault has been substantiated or not in order to grant a decree for dissolution of marriage on the ground of cruelty.
  6. The Court allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned judgment.

โ€“ Esha Shah, Paralegal

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