We all have heard a lot about cruelty against women by her husband and her in-laws. However, there is also a different side of the story which we will try to understand. Today, we know that in India cases of cruelty against married women by her husband and her in-laws are increasing at an alarming rate. The Government, many NGO’s, social action groups, and voluntary organizations have been spreading awareness about the legal rights of women and protection given to women by the Constitution of India and various laws passed by the Parliament. However, women have started misusing these constitutional and statutory laws against their husbands and in-laws to torture and harass them.
Cruelty by the wife against the husband and her in-laws is of such a nature that it adversely affects the physical and mental health of the husband or the in-laws. Cruelty here implies harsh conduct or persistent ill-treatment of such intensity by a wife to her husband and in-laws that it raises fear of future bodily injury in the mind of the husband if he continues to live with his wife thereby causing mental agony to the innocent husband and his family.
In cases of cruelty by one spouse against the other the Court has to make sure that the matrimonial relations between the husband and the wife have deteriorated because of the bad conduct of one of the spouses to such an extent that further cohabitation becomes harmful.
The term cruelty includes both physical and mental cruelty. Any act of violence, assault, or torture amounts to cruelty. The Court considers the facts and circumstances of each case to determine whether the conduct complained of amounts to cruelty or not. In deciding the cases of cruelty, the Court looks into the couple’s physique, mental temperament, habits, daily relations between husband and wife, cultural differences in their family background and their upbringing, their status, past relationship, etc.
BURDEN OF PROOF:
For an act amount to cruelty, the conduct complained off must be grave and not the regular wear and tear fights between the married couple. In cases of a divorce petition filed by the husband against the wife asking for a divorce on the ground of he being subjected to cruelty by his wife, the burden to prove the commission of cruelty lies on the petitioner-husband. He has to prove that the treatment given to him by his respondent-wife is of such a nature that it causes apprehension in his mind that living with the respondent-wife would be harmful to him.
GROUNDS ON WHICH HUSBAND CAN PROVE CRUELTY AGAINST HIM BY HIS WIFE:
The husband can prove cruelty against his wife on the following grounds-
False accusations, defamatory allegations, baseless and scandalous complaints made by the wife to the police, or in the written statement.
Filing false complaints against the husband under Section 498-A of Indian Penal Code, misusing dowry laws and Domestic Violence Act to claim maintenance and get her husband and in-laws arrested.
Unfounded allegations made by the wife against her husband such as womanizer, loose character, drunkard, a gambler in front of his friends, and colleagues to hurt her husband.
Wife’s Continuous nagging, abusing and taunting her husband amounting to insults and indignities which would make any man with self-respect and reasonable power of endurance find it difficult to live with such a taunting wife. Ill-treating her husband like not allowing the husband to enter a home after returning from office or beating her husband at home or in a public place to insult him. Wife making false complaints against the husband to his employer or seniors in his office to cause his demotion and thereby trying to ruin the husband’s career prospects.
False accusations of adultery, illicit relations, or having extra-marital affairs with close relations, female friends, women colleagues, or other women by the wife against the husband.
Wife making disparaging comments against her husband and her in-laws, wife using the obscene or offensive language for her husband and her in-laws, wife lodging false complaints against them, illtreating the family members of the husband.
Wife purposely alleging baseless allegations of impotency and unable to consummate marriage due to manliness against her husband.
Wife slapping the husband and if the husband reacts to this violence then threatening him that she would commit suicide or file a false case of harassment and torture against him. Wife torturing her husband to the extent of making his life miserable.
Wife terminating pregnancy without taking assent of her husband or against the will of her husband and her in-laws.
Wife refusing to cohabit with her husband for a long time, going to her parent’s house for a prolonged period, living in adultery with some other man, the wife not discharging her conjugal obligation, refusing sexual relationship to her husband.
Wife leaving her husband’s house without any fault of her husband thereby deserting him, neglecting her minor children, wife torturing her children to cause mental agony to her husband.
Wife adopting a disrespectful attitude towards her in-laws, misbehaving with them, and using abusive language for them. Wife taunting, scolding, and at times even beating her in-laws. The wife forces her husband to leave his home and have a separate residence.
Wife suffering from some mental disorder because of which becomes violent and attacks and assaults her husband, children, and her in-laws.
India has evidenced many crimes against married women by her husband and her in-laws such as dowry deaths, domestic violence, bride-burning, etc. Thus, to protect women various legislations have been passed by the Parliament. However, many women either misuse or threaten their husbands to misuse these legal provisions against them by filing false complaints of cruelty against them. Many of these false accusations made by the wife against her husband and her in-laws are the result of a quarrel between husband and the wife on trifling matters, out of wife’s ego problem, or made by the wife to take revenge from the husband and in-laws and therefore we see more number of acquittals than conviction in such cases. Such false cases of cruelty by the wife inflict a stigma on the husband and his family and they feel humiliated in society. As direct evidence is not available in such cases the Courts have to rely on the facts and circumstantial evidence to make sure that the evidence proves the accusation made by the wife against the husband is beyond a reasonable doubt.