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Wife’s attempt to commit suicide a ground for divorce?


Author- admin
Date:June 16, 2022

The question is when a wife attempts to commit suicide, will it amount to mental cruelty meted out to the husband? Further, will it be a ground on which the husband can file a divorce petition, and seek divorce from the wife?  

Section 13 Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

As per Section 13 (1)(ia) of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955,  meting out mental cruelty upon a spouse is a ground for divorce.

If after the solemnization of marriage, a husband or wife is treated with cruelty by his or her spouse, this is the ground for divorce.  

Section 13 (1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 reads as under :

13. Divorce.—(1) Any marriage solemnized, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, may, on a petition presented by either the husband or the wife, be dissolved by a decree of divorce on the ground that the other party—

(ia) has, after the solemnization of the marriage, treated the petitioner with cruelty; or

Whether an attempt to commit suicide ground of divorce?

When a spouse attempts to commit suicide, will it be cruelty? Will it be cruelty to claim a divorce?

Hon’ble Supreme Court in Narendra v. K. Meena, (2016) 9 SCC 455 affirmed the Family court / Trail Court’s decision to grant a divorce to the husband when the wife attempted to commit suicide.

[Plead read the case study below]

Whether the single act of committing suicide would be sufficient ground for divorce?

The question as to whether a single act of committing suicide would be sufficient ground for divorce, the Hon’ble Supreme court in Narendra v. K. Meena, (2016) 9 SCC 455 answered this question.

In this case, referring to the incident of the wife locking herself in the bathroom and pouring kerosene on herself so as to commit suicide, Hon’ble Supreme Court held that :

“In our opinion, only this one event was sufficient for the Appellant husband to get a decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty.”

Thus, a single act of committing suicide would be sufficient to claim mental cruelty and seek divorce.

Narendra v. K. Meena, (2016) 9 SCC 455 (Case study)

Fact of case

The wife picked up a quarrel with the Husband, went to the bathroom, locked the door from inside and poured kerosene on her body and attempted to commit suicide.

On getting smell of kerosene coming from the bathroom, the husband, his elder brother and neighbours broke open the door of the bathroom and prevented the wife from committing suicide.

Trial Court decision

The afore stated facts were found to be sufficient by the learned Family Court for granting the husband a decree of divorce, after considering the evidence adduced by both the parties.

Miscellaneous First Appeal No.171 of 2002 (FC) in High Court

Being aggrieved by the Family court judgment and decree, the wife filed Miscellaneous First Appeal No.171 of 2002 (FC), which was allowed by the High Court.

High Court set aside the Family court / Trial court’s order and decree of divorce.

Hon’ble Supreme Court observations

Upon perusal of the evidence of the witnesses, the findings arrived at by the trial court to the effect that the Respondent’s wife had locked herself in the bathroom and had poured kerosene on herself so as to commit suicide, are not in dispute.

Fortunately for the Appellant/husband, because of the noise and disturbance, even the neighbours of the Appellant rushed to help and the door of the bathroom was broken open and the Respondent was saved.

Had she been successful in her attempt to commit suicide, then one can foresee the consequences and the plight of the Appellant because in that event the Appellant would have been put to immense difficulties because of the legal provisions.

We feel that there was no fault on the part of the Appellant nor was there any reason for the Respondent wife to make an attempt to commit suicide.

No husband would ever be comfortable with or tolerate such an act by his wife and if the wife succeeds in committing suicide, then one can imagine how a poor husband would get entangled into the clutches of law, which would virtually ruin his sanity, peace of mind, career and probably his entire life.

The mere idea with regard to facing legal consequences would put a husband under tremendous stress. The thought itself is distressing. Such a mental cruelty could not have been taken lightly by the High Court.

In our opinion, only this one event was sufficient for the Appellant husband to get a decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty.

Supreme court’s decision

Taking an overall view of the entire evidence and the judgment delivered by the trial Court, Hon’ble Supreme court held that there was no need to take a different view than the one taken by the trial Court.

Hon’ble Supreme Court quashed and set aside the impugned judgment delivered by the High Court, and the decree of divorce passed by the Principal Judge, Family Court, was restored.

Conclusion

When a wife attempts to commit suicide, it will amount to mental cruelty meted out to the husband.

Further, it will be a ground on which the husband can file a divorce petition, and seek divorce from the wife. A single act of committing suicide would be sufficient ground for filing and seeking divorce.  

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