Cruelty against Husband – A brief analysis

The marital relationship between a husband and wife and is a mutual bond of trust and understanding. Though marriage isn’t gleeful and jubilant in all the cases, in some cases marriage becomes a stumbling block to happiness and peace of mind. Matrimonial matters demand trust, regard, respect, love, affection and belief.  Cruelty is one of the aspects that becomes a hamper against a happy marital relationship.

“Cruelty” is a word with much depth, and its definition may change according to different circumstances and situations. Cruelty, in general, is an inhuman treatment against any person. It may also include physical and mental sufferings. It cannot be assumed that cruelty can only be caused by violence or by giving mental trouble. Cruelty may differ from person to person and individual to individual, as observed in the case Sheldon vs. Sheldon, (1966 (2) All. ER 257). For each human cruelty is different. Someone may feel like a victim of cruelty when forced to do a work which they never wanted to do whereas in the same condition some other person may not feel the same.

Cruelty is not only against wife or women: it may be against male or husband, female, child, old-aged person, living animal etc. It is just that what kind of cruelty is recognized by the law. Cruelty in any marital relation may be of countless variety, it may be brutal or subtle. It may be done by the way of signs, gestures, words, unspoken signals or merely be silence. It may be caused by violence or non-violence. The character of parties, level of tolerance, and adjustment limit must also be taken into consideration. Cruelty will be established when the conduct itself is proved of admitted as held in the case Sobha Rani vs. Madhukar Reddi, (1988 (1) SCC 105).

Now the question arises that, what may amount to cruelty against husband? It is the duty of the court to take into consideration all the facts and circumstances of a case and also look at the physical and mental condition of the applicant as well as the victim to decide that the victim has been subject to cruelty or not. For a thing to fall under the category of cruelty under section 13 (1) (ia) of Hindu Marriage Act, it should create an apprehension in the mind of the other person that living with the other spouse may cause him/her mental or physical injury. Any willful unjustifiable conduct can be called cruelty which causes a problem for the other spouse. Cruelty also includes physical injuries and physical injuries can direct evidence whereas mental injury requires expert advice for corroboration. Mental cruelty is to be assessed bearing in mind the social status of the parties, their customs, traditions, their educational level, and the environment in which they live as stated in G.V.N. Kaneswara Rao vs. G. Jabilli (2002 (2) SCC 296).

In any state law is the system of rules which a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and which it may enforce by the imposition of penalties. It is sad to see when there is a law made for any particular section of the society for their protection and later that law is used unreasonably. The laws which were made for the protection of women against the crimes committed against them is now used as a tool by the women to intensify and satisfy their personal hatred against men and his family members. Women are not only given protection under the law but also given a priority by presuming their statement to be bona fide and genuine. There are few grounds which may be taken up and it may be presumed that the husband and his innocent family members were subject to cruelty by the women, by using the laws which are meant for her protection to satisfy her personal enmity against them.

  • Misuse of the laws provided against the demand of dowry, under section 498-A of IPC.
  • Desertion by wife and to bring cohabitation to a complete end. Desertion means withdrawing from all matrimonial obligations as in case Savitri Pandey vs. Prem Chandra Pandey (AIR 2002 SC 591).
  • Wife, choosing second marriage, even though the first one exists.
  • Wife threatening to commit suicide.
  • Abusing, insulting the husband and disrespecting on false grounds.
  • Adultery by the wife.
  • Lodging false FIRs and reports against husband and his family members.
  • Having extramarital affairs by the wife.
  • Accusing the husband to have extramarital affairs as observed in the case. Deepalakshmi Saehia Zingade v/s Sachi Rameshrao Zingade (AIR 2010 Bom 16).

Giving justification on the aforementioned grounds and making it obvious for the court to believe that the husband has been subjected to cruelty by wife, the husband can get the decree of divorce.




Yogricha Verma, a fourth-year law student at Amity Law School, Amity University Madhya Pradesh, is also a student of Company Secretary under ICSI. She is a student member of Indian National Bar Association (INBA) and Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb). Her native is Bhopal, India. She is also a freelancer and an artist and loves to do social works.

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