(1) The appellant is a husband whose application against his wife under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for a decree for restitution of conjugal rights, was dismissed by the Civil Judge, (After stating the facts in paras 2 and 3, the judgment proceeded :-)
(2) The only two witnesses who gave evidence in the proceeding are the two spouses. (After discussing the evidence in Paras, 4, 5, 6 and 7, their Lordships observed).
(3) However that may be, the fact remains that after the spouses lived together happily for five or six years, their marriage went on the rocks. We should ask ourselves why the matrimonial career of the spouses was wrecked in that way. An important piece of evidence which provides us with the key to the solution is the evidence of the husband and that given by the wife that after the wife went to her parent's house there was a complaint against the husband to the police charging him with cruelty. The husband admitted--and that is the effect of what he stated--that he had been warned by the police against such indulgence, and he denied that he had been warned by the police against such indulgence, and he denied that he had thereafter again indulged in such cruelty. The fact that a complaint of cruelty was presented to the police at the relevant point of time and also the fact, as admitted by the husband he was warned by the police and the fact that even according to the husband there was a panchayat in the house of his father-in-law at which the endeavour made by every one is, in our opinion, sufficient corroborative evidence of general character of that given by the wife on cruelty.
(After discussing the evidence and confirming the lower court's findings in paras 9 to 18 the judgment proceeded:-)
(4) The next question is whether that imputation amounts to cruelty within the meaning of section 10(1)(b) of the Act which speaks of cruelty causing a reasonable apprehension in the mind of the objecting spouse, that it would be harmful or injurious to live with the other party. The Hindu Marriage Act contains no definition of cruelty, and so that word has to be understood in the ordinary way. That word is normally understood as behaviour through which pains caused to another. In the case of cruelty by one spouse towards the other it may consist of various forms and the cruelty which has relevance in a matrimonial dispute is behaviour which in addition to being cruel, is productive of an apprehension in the mind of the other spouse that it is dangerous to live with the other party. The question whether the cruelty could reasonably produce that apprehension is one the answer to which must depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case. Wilful and unjustifiable interference by one spouse in the sphere of the life of the other, is one species of cruelty, in the same way in which rough or domineering conduct or unnatural sexual practices or disgusting accusations of unchastity or adultery, and sometimes even studied unkindness or persistent nagging can in a proper case be regarded as cruelty. But whatever the form or the pattern of cruelty, it should in a proper case be such as to reasonably generate the fear in the mind of the spouse who is the victim of the cruelty that it is perilous or dangerous to continue to live with the spouse whose behaviour has caused that apprehension. While such behaviour in the case of one may not reasonably produce such apprehension. But what is sufficiently clear is that the cruelty about which the Act speaks is not restricted or confide to acts of physical violence and may extend to behaviour which may cause pain and injury to the mind as well and so renders the continuance in the matrimonial home an agonising ordeal. Such cruelty is equally within the Act.
(5) Now the material before us demonstrates that the charge of adultery made against the wife was utterly unfounded. That accusation was impelled, it is plain, by the desire to hurt the feelings of the wife and to humiliate her. It is equally obvious that the charge had for its purpose the desire to escape from an order for maintenance for which the wife made an application. Although Miss Pramila intimated us on behalf of the husband that he was willing to condone the moral lapses on the part of the wife and to take her back to the matrimonial home, it requires little persuation to reach the conclusion that this attitude on the part of the husband is completely devoid of sincerity of purpose. A husband who charges if wife with infidelity but seeks a decree for restitution of conjugal rights does not really seek the company of his wife but commences a proceeding for restitution of conjugal rights only to clothe himself with the right to prosecute a proceeding for judicial separation. Such in our opinion, was the purpose for which the husband made his application in the case before us.
(6) There can be nothing which can expose a wife to greater peril than the society of a husband who has charged her with infidelity. That the imputation is unfounded does not diminish the danger if the husband has faith in its truth. And, a husband who makes an accusation which he knows to be false is more unscrupulous and so could be more ruthless. The vexation which the imputation itself may cause to a sensitive wife endowed with a gentle disposition is a mere shadow of the greater hazards which vindictiveness portends. And so, there would be cruelty producing the fear of grave danger which continuance in the matrimonial home normally involves.
(7) We cannot, therefore, disturb the decision of the Court below, and so, we dismiss this appeal. No costs.
(8) At this stage, Mr. Maheshchandra Guru asks attention to the fact that the Civil Judge to whom an application was made for interim maintenance, made no order on its even when he disposed of the main application presented by the husband. But that is not a matter about which we can say anything in this appeal, since, as Miss Pramila has rightly submitted to us, that matter cannot be before us in an appeal preferred by the husband from the order of the Court below by which restitution of conjugal rights was refused. It is very unfortunate that the Civil Judge did not make an order on the application for interim maintenance during the pendency of the proceedings before him. It was forgotten by the Civil Judge that an order for interim maintenance could be made by him only if the main proceeding s still pending and that he becomes functus officio after the proceeding comes to an end. It is not however for us to say anything more on this matter since that question is not before us and we abstain from making any final expression of option on that question, leaving it open to the wife to pursue such remedies as are available to her under the law.
(9) Appeal dismissed