In the recent case of Suman Lata Panwar v Sri Ajay Singh, the Uttarakhand High court bench consisting of Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Justice Sharad Kumar Sharmaheld held that a mere pleading by the wife in a divorce petition accusing the husband of sodomy (an unnatural sexual relationship) is now regarded as sufficient grounds to grant a divorce on the ground of ‘cruelty’. This is relevant because no wife would ever plead defence for determining cruelty in such acts.

The case involved a wife who’s petition for divorce was dismissed by the Family court. She claimed that her husband had a drinking problem and often came home in a state of intoxication which altered his mental state. He also misbehaved with her and inflicted mental cruelty and she endured all his bad behaviour to keep harmony within the family and to sustain the marriage life between the two. The family court dismissed the petition on the grounds that there was no cruelty proved. The family court had referred to letters exchanged between the couple and some other instances.

The Uttarakhand HC allowed the wife’s appeal for seeking a divorce and stated that, ‘Mere pleading of the said action is sufficient because this is an act which cannot be proved by any evidence and more particularly when the wife asserts that the husband was forcing for sodomy’.The HC also commented why the family court dismissed the case as there was no sufficient prove of cruelty. The HC stated that ‘the act of cruelty stands established by act and action tacitly admitted by respondent and in view of the reasoning and evidence been bought on by the wife’ and also that continuing of a shattered relationship and forcing a party to spend life under compulsion would not benefit either parties. Hence the appeal was allowed by dissolving the marriage.

 

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Judgment: Suman Lata Panwar Versus Ajay Singh