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Kusum Lata Vs. Kampta Prasad - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 3414 of 1962
Reported inAIR1965All280
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Sections 11, 96 and 100; Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 - Sections 10, 20, 21 and 26
AppellantKusum Lata
RespondentKampta Prasad
Appellant AdvocateShambhu Prasad and ;K.M. Sinha, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateR.R. Agarwal, Adv.
DispositionAppeal allowed
(i) civil - applicability - section 11 of code of civil procedure, 1908 - husband filed suit for restitution of conjugal rights - wife filed subsequent petition for separation - court consolidated the proceedings and disposed the matter - held, since husband has not filed appeal against the order of dismissal of suit he cannot plead decree in his favour in appeal filed by his wife as principle of res judicata will apply. (ii) meaning of 'cruelty' - section 10(1)(b) of hindu marriage act, 1955 - accusations of unchastity without slightest foundation against wife - held, sufficient ground for judicial separation. - - under the circumstances, the wife can very well have an apprehension that if she lived with her husband she would be criminally neglected and colossal indifference on the.....m.h. beg, j.1. this is a second appeal by a wife who had filed a petition under section 10 of the hindu marriage act thereinafter referred to as the act) for judicial separation against her husband the respondent kamta prasad. the husband too had filed a petition under section 9 of the act against the appellant for the restitution of his conjugal rights to him before the appellant's petition for judicial separation. both the proceedings were consolidated and the evidence led by both the parties was common and the two cases were disposed of by a common judgment. the trial court dismissed both the petitions. in each of the two proceedings, there was a separate issue on the question whether the respondent had treated the appellant with such a cruelty as to cause a reasonable apprehension in.....

M.H. Beg, J.

1. This is a second appeal by a wife who had filed a petition under Section 10 of the Hindu Marriage Act thereinafter referred to as the Act) for judicial separation against her husband the respondent Kamta Prasad. The husband too had filed a petition under Section 9 of the Act against the appellant for the restitution of his conjugal rights to him before the appellant's petition for judicial separation. Both the proceedings were consolidated and the evidence led by both the parties was common and the two cases were disposed of by a common Judgment. The trial court dismissed both the petitions. In each of the two proceedings, there was a separate issue on the question whether the respondent had treated the appellant with such a cruelty as to cause a reasonable apprehension in the mind of the appellant that it will be harmful or injurious for her to live with the respondent. The two separately framed issues on the same question were considered and decided as one common issue in the consolidated proceedings. While discussing this issue, the trial court took one allegation after another made by the wife against the husband, and held some allegations not to have been proved at all, and others, although proved, as insufficient to amount to cruelty. The trial court also framed an issue in the husband's suit for the restitution of conjugal rights in the following terms :

'Whether the plaintiff is entitled to restitution of conjugal rights?

2. Tn dealing with this issue, the trial Court dealt with only some of the instances of cruelty given by the wife and recorded the following conclusions :

'Here, there was an indifference and a neglect on the part of the husband the result of which was that the wife suffered. Under the circumstances, the wife can very well have an apprehension that if she lived with her husband she would be criminally neglected and colossal indifference on the Dart of the husband would lead her one day to the grave. I am, therefore, of the opinion that the petitioner Kamta Prasad is not entitled to a decree of restitution of conjugal rights.'

This finding runs counter to the findings given on. the previous issue of cruelty of the husband against the wife in the two consolidated proceedings. It demolished what the trial court appears to have assiduously attempted to establish in the course of its findings on the issue of cruelty--that the husband was not really guilty of 'legal cruelty' but only of excusable indifference towards his wife.

3. The discomfited husband decided to abandon the battle for the lady whom he tried to paint, without any apparent grounds, as a veritable 'Helen'. He did not file any appeal against the dismissal of his suit. The defeated wife did not allow the matters to rest, there. She appealed to the District Judge against the dismissal of her petition for Judicial separation. The learned District Judge observed, in the course of his Judgment by which he dismissed her appeal, that the suit of Kamta Prasad respondent should not have been dismissed. He, however, went into the evidence relating to the alleged cruelty by the husband to the wife and held that the husband had not been proved to have been guilty of cruelty towards his wife in the eye of law, notwithstanding the fact that the finding against the husband in his suit for the restitution of conjugal rights had became final against him. The learned District Judge did not deal with the effect of the failure of the husband to appeal against the findings upon which the husband's suit had been dismissed.

4. The appeal of the wife having been dis-missed by the District Judge, she has come up in second appeal to this Court. A preliminary objection has been raised to the hearing of the second appeal on merits. It is that a proceeding under Section 10 of the Act of 1955 is commenced by a petition to the District Court, and not by means of the 'plaint' required by Order IV Rule 1 C. P. C., so that the proceeding cannot be termed 'a suit'. The objection is that, a second appeal lies only where there is a decree by a lower appellate court, under Section 96 C. P. C., passed on an appeal from a decree of the court of original jurisdiction, in a 'suit.' It is contended that the term 'decree' is defined in Section 2(2) C. P. C. as an adjudication in a 'suit', but it does not include decrees of matrimonial courts in proceedings under the Act of 1955.

5. The respondent's counsel relied upon a decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court: K. Varalakshmi v. Veeraddl, AIR 1961 Andh-Pra 359. This case certainly supports the preliminary objection of the respondent. But, with great respect, I am unable to concur with the view taken there. Section 26 C. P. C. itself indicates that the presentation of a plaint is not the only way in which a suit may be commenced. It has been held that a 'suit is a term of wider significance than action; it may include proceedings on a petition.' (In re, Walli's Trusts, (1888) 23 LR Ir. 7.

6. I am unable to see the necessity to confine the term 'suit' to seme special technical sense whan the C. P. C. has not really defined, it. Among the meanings of the term 'suit' given by the Oxford Dictionary are :

'Pursuit; prosecution; litigation; the action or act of suing, supplicating, or petitioning; a law suit; a process instituted in a court of Justice for recovery or protection of a right or the redress of a wrong'. And, a 'law suit' is defined there as 'a prosecution of a claim in a court of law'. It also gives the meaning of 'petition' as 'a formally drawn up request,' and that of a ''plaint' as a 'statement of grievance made to a court of law for the purpose of obtaining redress.' Even the slight variation of emphasis in the meanings of the two terms loses its significance when we consider the requirements of each as the formally drawn up documents far the commencement of legal proceedings or suits. As the legally prescribed documents, the filing of which in a law court exercising civil jurisdiction constitute the first step in legal proceedings which terminate in decrees, I find that the terms 'petition' and 'plaint' are used and understood as interchangeable for all practical purposes. Petitions under the Act of 1953 are required by Section 20 of the Act to state facts upon which the claims for reliefs are based, and also to be verified in the same way as plaints are verified. Such petitions must necessarily catalogue grievances and state causes of action which have to be established by leading evidence la accordance with the procedure prescribed for suits. Plaints, in accordance with the provisions of Order VII Rule 1(g) C.P.C., must also contain prayers for reliefs. The difference between the two is, in my opinion, one of mere nomenclature and not of substance at all in the case before me.

7. The use of the term 'petition' in the Act of 1955, instead of the term 'plaint' which is used in the C. P. C., seems to be merely due to historical accident. It is obviously taken from the Indian Divorce Act of 1869 which uses the term, 'petition' for the document by means of which a party initiates proceedings in matrimonial courts. It, apparently, found a place in the Indian Divorce Act because the Matrimonial Causes Acts and the rules made thereunder in England used the term 'petition' for the document with which a party commenced matrimonial proceedings there (see. Hals-bur y's Laws of England, 1911 (1st edition), Volume XVI paragraph 1014, or, third edition, Volume XII, paragraph 558 page 285). The Jurisdiction over matrimonial causes was originally exercised by Ecclesiastical courts in England upon 'petitions' presented there. Throughout the chapters in Hals-bury's Laws of England on matrimonial matters, such as restitution of conjugal rights or Judicial separation or divorce, the proceedings in respect of these matters are referred to as 'suits' (e.g. see third edition, 1955, Vol. XII paragraph 864 at p. 391). It is true that there, are certain special provisions for matrimonial causes, such as the provisions relating to alimony pending the 'suit' or the intervention of Queen's Proctor during the progress of a 'suit' for divorce or nullity of marriage. Nevertheless, the proceedings under the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1950 and earlier Acts in England on the subject are 'suits' in every sense of the term.

8. I am unable to discover why proceedings for judicial separation or restitution of conjugal rights under the Act of 1955 should be termed anything other than 'suits' resulting in decrees within the meaning of Section 2(2) C. P. C. passed by courts exercising civil jurisdiction. Indeed, Section 21 of the Act of 1955, the effect of which does not appear to have been considered in the above mentioned Andhra Pradesh case, AIR 1961 Andh-Pra 359 makes it clear that the provisions of the C. P. C. will resulate all proceedings under the Act subject to the special provisions, such as Section 24 or 25 or 20 or 27 of the Act, which are apparently based on the principles evolved for the exercise of matrimonial jurisdiction by courts in England. I can see nothing in Section 23 of the Act of 1955 which could deprive the decrees passed under the Act of the effect er the meaning which the term 'a decree' has under Section 2(2) of the C. P. C. Section 28 of the Act also makes it clear that the decrees under Section 23 have the same effect as decrees of other courts of civil jurisdiction except that no appeal is allowed on the subject of costs only.

9. If I had not been clearly of opinion that the proceedings in question under the Act are 'suits' and the decrees passed in these suits are decrees appealable under Section 36 C. P. C., I would have considered the applicability of Section 141 C. P. C. also to proceedings under the Act, but, in view of the very clear provisions of Section 21 of the Act, it is not necessary to rely on Section 141 C. P. C. at all for the purpose of meeting the preliminary objection which I overrule for the reasons given above.

10. Coming to the merits of the case, it is argued on behalf of the appellant that the lower appellate court has overlooked the effect of the dismissal of the husband's suit for restitution of conjugal rights upon findings to which he has submitted. The contention la that the husband having failed to appeal against the decree passed in his suit, is faced with a resulting res judicata which he cannot overcome. Another argument, advanced on behalf of the appellant wife, is that both the courts below have failed to give effect to the legal meaning of 'cruelty' contained in Section 10(b) of the Act of 1955. In my opinion, there is no adequate reply to these arguments from the aide of tne respondent. However, before accepting the two contentions, I would like to indicate my reasons for doing so, and I shall take up the second question first.

11. It is true that the term 'cruelty' itself has not been specifically defined by the Act, but Section 10(1)(b) leaves no room for doubt about the character and composition of cruelty which is sufficient for a decree for judicial separation. It provided that it must be 'such cruelty as to cause a reasonable apprehension in the mind of the petitioner that it will be harmful or injurious for the petitioner to live with the other patty.'

12. The abovementioned definition of cruelty between spouses may be compared with the definition given by Lopes, L.J., in the leading case of Russel v. Russel, 1895 P. 315 at. p. 322

'There must be danger to life, limb, or health, bodily or mental, or a reasonable apprehension of it, to constitute legal cruelty.'

When the case went up to the House of Lords, Lord Ashbourne quoted the definition and observed:

'no tribunal has before, in the history of our law, taken the grave responsibility of express definition.'

Russell v. Russell, 1897 AC 395 at p. 430. The importance of this definition for us is that it was adopted and applied by our High Courts to cases under the Indian Divorce Act as, far example, it was by a Division Bench of this Court in Mrs. Annie Baron v. B. K. Baron, AIR 1959 All 516 at p. 518. Our Parliament must be deemed to be aware of the definition of the term 'cruelty' given in or applicable to other enactments dealing with matrimonial cases which were enacted before the Act of 1955 in this country. The Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act (VIII of 1939) contains a definition of cruelty which includes cruelty by conduct 'even if such conduct does not amount to physical ill-treatment'. The Act of 1955 could not be held to lay down a more restricted definition of cruelty than can be found in the case of 1897 AC 395 decided at the end of the 19th Century, or in the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1930, unless such an intention was clear from the words used in the statute itself.

13. Looking at Section 10(1)(b) of the Act, I find that it requires the court to consider the impact of events upon the 'mind of the petitioner' in deciding whether the alleged cruelty was such as to cause a reasonable apprehension of harm or injury to the petitioner resulting from living with the other party. If anything, this concept appears to be somewhat more advanced than the concept of cruelty found in 1897 AC 395 inasmuch as the mental condition and the temperamental qualities of the petitioner, depending partly upon the background, the psychological make up, and other facts and circumstances peculiar to the petitioner, may have to he taken into account. This approach has come into prominence in more recent decisions of English Courts, the effect of which was thus stated by Mr. D. Tolstoy, in 'The Law and Practice of Divorce and Matrimonial Causes' (1963) :

'The test of cruelty is subjective and the mental and physical condition of the spouse must be taken into consideration in determining whether the conduct amounts to cruelty in the particular case.'

14. Although the merely fanciful notions of a petitioner cannot constitute cruelty in the eye of law, yet, if the allegations of cruelty can be supported; by a reasonable apprehension on the part of a particular petitioner that it will be harmful or injurious to that petitioner to live with the other party, the case will be made out. In judging the subjective appraisal of a situation and the apprehensions in the mind of a petitioner, the court will necessarily be guided by objective facts proved to its satisfaction. It la, however, quite clear that the reasonable apprehension in the mind of the petitioner need not be merely of physical injury. A reasonable apprehension of psychological injury or harm to the petitioner is enough for granting a decree for judicial separation. Such a decree does not, after all, place embittered marital relations between the parties beyond the range of redemption; and, therefore, its requirements are not so drastic as those for a divorce.

15. In my opinion, the courts below have erred in ignoring the psychological and subjective factors altogether in determining whether the respondent's treatment of the petitioner amounted to cruelty in the eye of law. The most glaring instance of the oversight by the courts below, of psychological injury proved to have been inflicted upon the appellant, is with regard to reckless allegations of unchastity made by the respondent without any apparent foundation whatsoever against the appellant. It is rather surprising that both the courts below have referred to this grave allegation made by the respondent in the course of his pleadings in both the suits without seriously considering the effect of it. The courts below have also observed that the appellant had pleaded, as one of her grounds of alleged cruelty, that the respondent used to accuse her of unchastity, but only the trial court has tried to give some consideration to this matter at all.

16. Ex. 7 was a notice sent on behalf of the respondent to the appellant in which it was stated:

'You are leading a life which no respectable husband would tolerate..... You preferred other persons' company with whom you are leading the present life according to your own choice and against the wishes of my client'.

There was then the statement in the husband's petition itself that:

'The separate and independent living at various places with others has been very objectionable te the plaintiff who belongs to a very respectable family of the place.'

The respondent also pleaded in reply to the wife's petition, that she wanted to get a 'sanction for leading a free and immoral life'. In spite of these proved statements of the respondent, corroborating the petitioner's statement, the trial court held that the allegation of unchastity was not clear. In the alternative, the trial court held that, even if such allegations were duly proved, they did not amount to cruelty in the eye of law.

17. The trial court, rather improperly, brushed aside the view taken by this Court in Smt. Pancho v. Ram Prasad, AIR 1956 All 41 : 1955 All LJ 662 where it was held, although with reference to Section 2 of the Hindu Married Women's Right to Separate Residence and Maintenance Act, 1940, that:

'Conception of legal cruelty undergoes changes according to the changes and advancement of social concept and standards of living, With the advancement of our social conceptions, this feature has obtained legislative recognition that a second marriage is a sufficient ground for separate residence and separate maintenance. Moreover, to establish legal cruelty it is not necessary that physical violence should be used. '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 is unchaste are all factors which may undermine the health of a wife'.

The above mentioned decision of this Court has been followed by a Division Bench of Jammu and Kashmir High Court in Smt. Kamla Devi v. Amar Nath, AIR 1961 J and K. 33 on Section 10(1)(b) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. It was held there 'False accusations of unchastity made by the hus-band may cause the wife great mental suffering which may be much severer than bodily pain caused by some beating. Such accusations certainly would amount to cruelty in the eye of law.'

The question of false allegation of unchastity was also considered by my brother V. Bhargava, J. in Abbas Ali v. Mst. Rabia Bibi, AIR 1952 All 145 in a case under Section 2(VIII)(a) of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939.

18. I am of opinion that the reference to reasonable apprehension 'in the mind of the petitioner', made in Section 10(1)(b) of the Act of 1955, was not without significance. Rightly or wrongly, the Legislature in this country has adopted the modern view of cruelty of one spouse to another in the eye of law which is summarised as follows in Halsbury's Laws of England Vol. 12, 3rd Edition, page 270 paragraph 516:

'The general rule in all kinds of cruelty is that the whole matrimonial relations must be considered and that rule is of special value when the cruelty consists not of violent acts, but of injurious reproaches, complaints, accusations or taunts. Before coming to a conclusion, the Judge must consider the impact of the personality and conduct of one spouse on the mind of the other, and all incidents and quarrels between the spouses must be weighed from that point of view. In determining what constitutes cruelty, regard must be had to the circumstances of each particular case, keeping always in Mew the physical and mental condition of the parties, and their character and social status.'

So far as allegations of unchastity or other allegations which may cause pain to the complaining spouse are concerned, the following matters ought to be, according to the decided cases on the subject, considered :

19. Firstly, the question whether the allegation was true or false ought to be examined. If an allegation is false, certain presumptions, such as that of maliciousness of intention, can arise. On the other hand, even if an allegation is true but injurious it cannot be ignored. Truth of the allegation may, however, give rise to an inference that the intention was not to injure. In other cases, it may furnish the basis of the plea of provocation.

20. Secondly, the question must be examined whether the accusation 'was aimed at' the petitioner, as held by Lord Justice Denning in Westall v. Westall, (1949) 60 TLR 337, Sometimes, 'Unwarrantable indifference to consequences' which ensure, as the natural and obvious results of the acts complained of have been held to he sufficient to justify the finding that the conduct of the wrongful party was wilful and unjustifiable.

21. Thirdly, the effect of the accusation or conduct upon the petitioner must be determined. This is the crucial and decisive test in all such cases. As has been well put, in a case in which the wife was the petitioner, the question is : 'What sort of person the wife was and how the husband's conduct affected her?' If the complaining spouse was quite insensitive to a particular kind of insult of accusation, which may cause a nervous break down to another spouse, the test to be applied in the case of such a spouse will be different. If, for example, a husband and wife are in the habit of bringing accusations against each other in a bantering spirit, such accusations could not amount to cruelty in their particular case. Each case has to be judged upon its own facts.

22. In the present case, I find that the accusation of unchastity was not only made by the husband without the slightest foundation against the wife, but it was, apparently, also made through a lawyer as well as in the pleadings in circumstances from which one can infer that these allegations were malicious and intended to intimidate the wife. The wife has deposed that the allegations caused her much pain and suffering and also that the husband was in the habit of making such accusations. The deleterious effects upon her mental and physical health are also sufficiently proved from other evidence upon the record.

23. The trial court dealt with the allegations of the two sides against each other at considerable length, covering forty-one pages o!' its judgment, out of which I have mentioned a vei-y glaring instance covered by authorities mentioned above, Other instances have also been similarly dealt with by the courts below. In such cases, there is usually some exaggeration, sometimes considerable exaggeration by each side. It is, therefore, particularly necessary for courts to be careful so as not to allow the fact that mountains were made out of some molehills to induce a belief in them that even the mountains are mole-hills.

24. Another rather glaring example of cruelty on the part of the respondent was the neglect which was found by the trial court to exist in the following terms :

'Kusum Lata was not keeping well for a long time. The petitioner Kamta Prasad has denied that Kusum Lata was ever unwell. This, in other words, is a clear admission that he never thought that the condition of Kusum Lala was such as required any medical attention. Considering the whole thing on record, I am of the opinion that It has been established that Kusum Lata, while she was at her husband's place, was not well, and it is possible that she was rather seriously ill, and, in spite of that, she was not given any medical treatment.'

25. It is surprising to find that, although the trial court considered husband's failure to get the appellant treated, in spite of her possibly serious illness, to be sufficient to disentitle him to a decree for restitution of conjugal rights, yet, the trial court did not consider its own finding on this matter to be enough for the purposes of establishing the required cruelty, in the eye of law, for a decree for judicial separation. The lower appellate court has very summarily dismissed the allegation of the appellant that she was ill and not given adequate treatment by observing that, although she was ill, she appeared to bo neurotic and that she had exaggerated her illness. It was absolutely unnecessary for the lower appellate court to observe that the appellants' grievance seemed to be that the respondent Kamta Prasad 'had not danced attendance upon her and had not regarded her every sneeze and every cough as the greatest catastrophe on earth.' So far as I can section there is no evidence whatsoever upon the record that the appellant was unduly neurotic or that she expected her husband to attend to anything more than her creature comforts, to provide adequate treatment in her ill-health, and to respect her feelings. In my opinion, the lower appellate court's view is based more upon preeonceived notions than upon any Judicial consideration of the evidence upon the record. There was evidence of two doctors. Dr. Mrs. Deshraj (D. W. 6) and Doctor D. S. Bhargava (D. W. 7), showing that the appellant was so ill and neglected at her husband's place that she had to go to her parents in Delhi and get herself treated. The lower appellate court ignored it.

26. There is also evidence upon the record that, when the child of the appellant and the respondent was examined by Doctor Bhargava at Delhi, after the appellant had gone to her parents, it was found that the child was undernourished. The trial court, unfortunately, indulged in an exhibition of its own assumed expert knowledge of dietetics by observing that probably the child was not given a 'medically balanced diet' and might have been even 'overfed on wrong diet' as its parents were ignorant. I am constrained to observe that this discloses a tendency to rationalise and explain away every conceivable shortcoming of the husband without any basis at all in the evidence upon the record for some of these explanations.

27. Another matter on which the courts below have given a finding against the appellant is the effect of the husband's insistence upon having sexual intercourse with his wife, about a month after a childbirth, so that she became pregnant again. According to the medical evidence, it was harmful for the appellant, considering hed delicate condition and state of health, to have been subjected to sexual intercourse at that time or to have become pregnant again so soon. The courts below held that even if she had some objection to having any sexual intercourse with her husband soon after the birth of a child to her, the insistence of the husband upon such intercourse does not amount to cruelty in the eye of law. The lower appellate, court has, very lightly, dismissed this matter by observing that all young and newly married husbands are liable to indulge in sexual relations with their wives rather excessively. The lower appellate court also observed that, after reading the evidence, it appeared that the appellant wanted to dictate to her husband the time when he should have sexual relations with her. It appears to me that the approach of the lower appellate court towards the whole subject of relations between a husband and wife is completely out of tune with the times and in conflict with the ideas underlying the concept of cruelty found in Section 10(1)(b) of the Act of 1965. That concent appears to me to be one which is based on mutual regard and consideration by each Spouse for the other. It excludes, in my opinion, selfish brutality or disregard for the health, needs, desires, and feelings of the other by either spouse even in a matter such as sexual relations between the two.

It has teen held in Holborn v. Holborn, 1947-1 All ER 32 at p. 33 that persistence in inordinate sexual demands or mal-practices by either spouse can be cruelty if it injures the other spouse. Indeed, according to matrimonial experts, this sphere of conjugal life ought to be more sedulously guarded against psychological injuries than any other. Each spouse is entitled to expect the other to show due consideration and respect for the health, requirements, feelings, and sentiments of the other.

28. I have dealt with rather glaring instances in which both the courts below have, in my opinion, gone astray. There are other instances in which the complaints made by the wife may have been rather exaggerated and unjustified, in a way in which feminine complaints can often be, but the remarks passed by the courts below appear to me to be both improper and unjustifiable. For exampls, the appellant complained that when she was undergoing labour pains nobody cared for her. The lower appellate court has remarked: 'I do not know how anybody could share the labour pains with her. Labour pains are normal matters and and a woman cannot regard her husband cruel because he cannot share them'. I think the learned District Judge who heard the appeal was not justified at all in Imputing any desire to the appellant that the respondent should share her labour pains when there is not an iota of evidence on the record to suggest that she had ever expressed such a desire. The whole case appears to me to have been approached by both the courts below from a Judicially incorrect angle. It discloses an absence, on the part of the courts below, of anv attempt to understand the petitioner's position and point of view,

29. Courts trying matrimonial cases must maintain an attitude of sympathetic understanding for both sides if they are to successfully judge psychological situations and subjective factors which they are necessarily called upon to do in such cases. It is not the reasonableness or unreasonableness of the antipathy felt by etlher spouse for the other which has to be determined by the Court with a view to punishing an erring party. It is only the reasonableness or otherwise of the apprehension that the mental or physical health of the complaining spouse will suffer by living together which has to be adjudicated upon in a suit for judicial separation. There is a good deal to be said for consultations with competent psychiatrists by the parties themselves before rushing to Court or, falling that, for obtaining the opinions of psychiatrists as experts before a Court, which entertains doubts upon such a matter, gives its deci-sion. In the absence of opinions of competent psychiatrists who are, unfortunately, very scaree in this country, the Court should undertake the task of such an expert itself before pronouncing upon the question. The guiding consideration should be the welfare of the spouse alleging reasonable apprehension of injury.

30. Both the courts below have completely disregarded the views on matrimonial matters embodied in all recent legislation and case law on the subject in this country. These views are well expressed in the case of Sarah Abraham v. Pyli Abraham, AIR 1959 Kerala 73 at p. 78 in the following passage :

'It may be added that though the Indian courts originally construed 'legal cruelty' in the strict sense as above, there has come about gradual change. The tendency has been in favour of the view that any conduct of the husband which causes disgrace to the wife or subjects her to a course of annoyance and indignity amounts to legal cruelty. The harm apprehended may he mental suffering as distinct from bodily harm, for, pain of mind may be even more severe than bodily pain, and a husband disposed to evil may create more misery in a sensitive and affectionate wife, by a course of conduct addressed only to the mind, than if, in fits of anger, he were to inflict occasional blows upon her person.'

30a. The modern view, embodied in Section 10(1)(b) of the Act of 1955, allows no discrimination between husband arid wife in Judging what is cruelty. The standard by which legal cruelty on the part of either spouse has to be judged is riot different. The need to pay particular attention to the mind of the petitioner entitles the courts to take into account the greater liability of a woman to psychological injury. Nevertheless, the approach by the courts to the whole question has to be unbiased towards either spouse. I am compelled to observe that the view taken by both the courts below is, for some reason, unduly biased in favour of the husband. It savours of an outlook according to which the wife's duty is never to complain but to satisfy every wish and desire of the husband whether reasonable or unreasonable. Even if the requirement of legal cruelty, for the purposes of Judicial separation, was a reasonable apprehension of physical harm or ill health due to living with the other party, that test is satisfied upon some of the findings given by the trial court which have not been specifically reversed by the lower appellate court.

31. The District Judge, who heard the appeal in the court below, indicated that he would have decreed the respondent's suit. The fact, however, remains that the respondent, not having appealed from the decision and decree against him, could not have assailed, before the District Judge, the findings upon which his suit was dismissed. I have already indicated the nature of those findings which are very clear and categorical. In AIR 1959 Kerala 75 it was held 'that the failure of the wife to appeal against the dismissal of her suit for judicial separation did not bar her appeal against the decree granting husband's petition for restitution of conjugal rights.' The reason given for the view taken in that case was that the wife's appeal against the decree in favour of her husband amounted to a challenge given to both the decrees. The effect of consolidation of the two proceedings was perhaps carried to its logical conclusion in that case. With very great respect for the view taken there, I doubt whether the consolidation of the two proceedings can have the effect which seems to have been assumed in that case: that is to say, consolidation of the two decrees. A consolidation of the two proceedings does not result in a consolidated decree. The decrees in the two proceedings are still separate. Furthermore, the principle underlying that decision is not applicable here. In that case, the wife had challenged the findings by an appeal even though she may not have filed another appeal which was technically necessary. In the present case, the respondent-husband had submitted to the decree against him and did sot challenge the findings upon which his suit was dismissed. It has to be borne in mind that Section 9 Sub-section (2) of the Act provides:

'Nothing shall be pleaded in answer to a petition for restitution of conjugal rights which shall not be a ground for Judicial separation or for nullity of marriage or divorce.'

The failure of the respondent's suit for restitution of conjugal rights necessarily meant the success of a ground for Judicial separation. In my opinion, the retirements of Section 11 C. P. C. are fully satis-fied in this case. The bar of res judicata, under Section 11 C. P. C., operated against the respondent on patent facts which are apparent from a bare perusal of the judgments of the courts below. I, therefore, hold that this bar should have been given effect to by the lower appellate court even though it arose after the decrees of the trial court.

32. In the result, I allow this appeal, set aside the Judgments and decrees of the courts below and decree the appellant's claim for Judicial separation under Section 10 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, with costs throughout.

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