1. The challenge here is by the wife Neelam Midha to the decree for divorce granted to her husband Vinod Midha on the ground of desertion and cruelty.
2. It is apparent that there has been a complete break down of this marriage and it was only for a short period that husband and wife lived together. No child was born to them.
3. The marriage between the parties was solemnized at Ferozepore on April, 18, 1980. According to the husband, his wife stayed with him only till the third week of May, 1980, that is, for about a month while the wife's case is that they lived together till Oct., 1981. Be that as it may, it is common case of the parties that they have been living apart ever since.
4. The plea of desertion, as put forth by the husband is founded upon the allegation that in May, 1980, Neelam Midha's father came and took her away on the pretext that there was a wedding in the family. All her clothes and ornaments were taken away by her on that occasion. She never returned thereafter. Further, it was stated that in Oct. 1981, the husband went to his father-in-law's house to persuade his wife to resume cohabitation, but she refused saying that she had to look after her ailing younger sister and also added that she would not come back unless he had a separate house of his own.
5. The charge of desertion was denied by the wife. According to her, it was her husband's unfulfilled demands for dowry that led to her being turned out of the house 18 months after the marriage. To begin with, she stated she was well treated by her husband, but after about six months, he and his parents began to abuse and maltreat her accusing her of having brought insufficient dowry. They started pressing her to bring Rs. 50,000/- to enable her husband to purchase a car and on her inability and refusal to do so, she was beaten and turned out of the house. Efforts were then made by her father to get her rehabilitated in her husband's home but to no avail. She then sought maintenance under S. 125, Cr.P.C. 1973, and was awarded Rs. 400/- per month as such. It was, she claimed as a counter-blast to this order that the present petition had been filed.
6. It may be mentioned here that the application under S. 125,. Cr.P.C. 1973, was filed on May 25, 1982 and maintenance was awarded by the order passed on Sept., 19, 1983 while the present petition was filed about 7 months thereafter on April 23, 1984.
7. Considered in the context of the evidence that has come on record, there is a ring of implausibility in both the husband as also the wife's version. There is no proof of any marriage having taken place in the wife's family which could warrant the inference of it being used as a pretext for her to go to her parent's home. There is only the suggestion in this behalf, denied by the wife, that there was the marriage of her cousin in Moga in May, 1980. Besides this, the husband could indeed provide no other particulars of it. It is to be expected that if there was such a marriage, he too should have gone particularly when his wife was attending it. He says that he was asked to go but could not attend. At any rate, if there were no differences between them, it would certainly appear rather odd that the wife did not come back nor was any attempt made by the husband in this direction till several months after she is said to have left her husband's home for attending this wedding. On his own showing, it was only in Oct., 1981 that he went to his father-in-law's house for this purpose.
8. Equally, unconvincing is the wife's story that after treating her well for six months, her husband and his parents took to maltreating her for having brought insufficient dowry culminating in their turning her out of the house a year later, that is, after 18 months of the marriage. If there was dissatisfaction with the dowry, it could not have taken six months to show up. Here it would be significant to note the testimony of the wife, R.W. 1 Neelam Midha that she never wrote to her father regarding any misbehaviour of her husband nor indeed did she send him any message to this effect. Further, according to her, her husband never had any talk with her father regarding the demand of Rs. 50,000/- for the purpose of a car by him. In this respect, contrary is the evidence given by her father R.W. 3 Rup Lal and R.W.2 Lajya Dhari who is said to have gone with her father to her husband's house in a Panchayat in an effort to persuade him to take her back. Both these witnesses deposed that the husband put forth the pre-condition of being given Rs. 50,000/- for taking back his wife. Besides this contradiction, the evidence does not spell out what suddenly came upon the husband to demand a car from his wife's parents. There is no suggestion of any pressing need for it that may have compelled him to do so. It would appear,. therefore, that the parties did not get along with each other and were living apart and this version of the demand for dowry was pleaded in defence to this petition, as an after thought.
9. As regards the time and manner of the wife leaving her husband's home, here again her version does not inspire confidence. In the first instances, the space where the date of her leaving her husband's house was to be recorded in the written statement, was left blank. Further according to her, she went to the house of R.W. 4 Janak Raj Dhir and borrowed Rs. 10/- from his to get to her parent's house after she had been turned out by her husband. Rup Lal, her father deposed that it was 9 p.m. when she went to the house of Janak Raj Dhir, but Janak Raj stated that it was at 3 p.m. that Neelam Midha had come to him. Not only is that this discrepancy about the time, but it does not at all sound plausible that she should have gone to the house of Janak Raj Dhir who was admittedly no relation of hers. He was merely a colleague of her brother. She had never visited his house earlier and it was two kilometers away from where she lived. Janak Raj Dhir could not say how she came and how she left. What is more, if indeed Janak Raj Dhir had any regard and consideration, he would not have allowed Neelam Midha to go off all along and that too with a merely Rs. 10/-. It would thus not be safe to accept either the testimony of Neelam Midha or of Janak Raj Dhir on this aspect of the case.
10. What emerges from the evidence led is that after living together for a short period, differences arose between the parties as a result of which Neelam Midha left and went to her parent's home and did not thereafter return.. It would also appear that no serious efforts were made by either party to resume cohabitation. As mentioned earlier, the marriage stands broken down. The position now is that the husband says that he is not prepared to take back his wife even if she comes to him unconditionally, whereas according to the wife, she is prepared to go back, but on the condition that he ensures good conduct. It also deserves notice that besides the application under S. 125, Cr.P.C., 1973, there is other litigation too between the parties namely with regard to the return of dowry. Such being the state of affairs between them, desertion is clearly writ large and consequently the grant of divorce on this ground warrants no interference in appeal.
11. Turning now to the allegations of cruelty, it would be seen that with regard to this aspect of the case, there is variance between pleadings and proof, in that, the instances of cruelty, as deposed to by the husband, do not find mention in the petition, what was alleged in the petition was that the wife was conscious of the social status of her father and was consequently effected with a superiority complex and insisted on living separately with her husband and made no secret of her dislike of her husband looking after his parents and younger brother. She used foul language towards her husband and always found fault with him and the other members of his family. She often complained of having got married into a poor family. Wilful lying by her was also quoted as another instances of cruelty. When he came into the witness box however, A.W.1 Vinod Kumar Midha had a somewhat different story to tell, namely; that on one occasions when he woke up his wife early in the morning for preparing tea for him as he had to go to Chandigarh, she retorted that his hands should be cut-down and he should become a handicapped person. On another occasion, when he went to the market with a cousin of his, she remarked that she had been married into a shameless family. The other instance deposed to by him was of when this brother was sent by his wife to get a lemon from the market, and could not get one and on return, she retorted that in her family bags of sugar would have come, but here they could not even fetch a lemon. As mentioned earlier, these allegations were not contained in the petition.
12. In dealing with matrimonial matters, it must be recognized that even to this day, more often than not, marriages are still arranged by parents, with the boy and girl having little or no opportunity of meeting each other before their marriage. Marriage is a very close and intimate relationship between a man and a woman and when two persons almost strangers to each other are suddenly thrown together into such a relationship, it is inherent in the situation that they must go through a period of adjustment, which may be rough or smooth, depending upon the parties concerned. What happens during this period, has therefore, to be seen in this context. In other words, if courts are to help preserve marriages too much should not be made of petty instances of things said or done, until parties have had time to know each other and settle down. There can, of course, be no hard and fast rule for this as each case has to be considered in its own set of circumstances. In the present case, when the husband says that he and his wife lived together for only a month the instances of cruelty pleaded by him as also those deposed to by him, do not warrant the finding of cruelty of such nature as cold measure up to the standard required for it to constitute a ground for divorce.
13. Affirming the grant of divorce to the husband on the ground of desertion, this appeal is hereby dismissed. There will, however, be no order as to costs.
14. Appeal dismissed.