Mental disorder can be ground for divorce: SC

A husband or a wife is entitled to divorce if either spouse is found to be mentally unsound or indulges in cruelty, SC has held.

New Delhi: A husband or a wife is entitled to divorce if either spouse is found to be mentally unsound or indulges in cruelty, the Supreme Court has held.

A bench of justices P Sathasivam and BS Chauhan in a judgement said under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriages Act, either of the spouse can seek divorce, provided sufficient evidence is placed to justify the claim.

The apex court upheld the appeal of Pankaj Mahajan, challenging the Punjab and Haryana High Court`s refusal to grant him divorce despite producing medical and other evidence to prove that his wife Dimple suffered from schizophrenia and
subjected him to humiliation, assaults and threatened suicide.

The high court had refused to grant him divorce and quashed the decree of divorce granted to him by a matrimonial court in Ropar district.

"Without proper discussion and adequate reasons, the high court rejected the evidence of the appellant-husband as PW-4. A perusal of his evidence clearly shows the agony and treatment meted out immediately after the marriage due to
mental disorder, unsound mind of the respondent-wife.

"From the materials placed on record, we are satisfied that the appellant-husband has brought cogent materials on record to show that the respondent-wife is suffering from mental disorder, i.e., schizophrenia. From the side of the appellant husband, various doctors and other witnesses were examined to prove that the respondent-wife was suffering from mental disorder," Justice Sathasivam, writing the judgement, said.

The couple got married at Amritsar on October 2, 2000. But within one-and-a-half months, Pankaj found Dimple behaving abnormally, as she used to suddenly get aggressive, hostile and suspicious in nature.

In a fit of anger, she used to threaten suicide and implicate Pankaj and his family members in a criminal case, unless she was provided a separate residence.

Even after the couple shifted to a separate home, herstrange behaviour continued and she attempted suicide by jumping from the terrace but luckily was saved by Pankaj.

She insulted and humiliated him in front of his colleagues and relatives several times and on one occasion she pushed him from the staircase that caused a fracture in his right forearm.

Later it came to light Dimple had undergone treatment for mental illness and schizophrenia prior to the marriage.

Upholding the husband`s plea, the apex court said, "The acts of the respondent wife are of such quality or magnitude and consequence as to cause pain, agony and suffering to the husband which amounted to cruelty in matrimonial law."

The court further noted that the husband had conclusively established that the wife constantly threatened him with suicide, pushed him from the staircase resulting into fracture of his right forearm, slapped and assaulted him, misbehaving with the colleagues and relatives and failed to attend to household chores, all of which amounted to cruelty.

"We are satisfied that the appellant-husband had placed ample evidence on record that the respondent-wife is suffering from `mental disorder` and due to her acts and conduct, she caused grave mental cruelty to him and it is not possible for
the parties to live with each other, therefore, a decree of divorce deserves to be granted in favour of the appellant-husband," the bench said.


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