Author: Rishika Ramchandra Boddu.
AIR 2006 SC 1675.
NAMES OF PARTIES
Appellant: Naveen Kohli;
Respondent: Neelu Kohli.
Justice B.N. Agrawal;
Justice A.K. Mathur;
Justice Dalveer Bhandari.
An already-married couple can dissolve their marriage through the legal process of divorce. It is also referred to as a dissolution of marriage and, in essence, refers to a legal process that ends a marriage before the passing of either partner. A marriage succeeds when two people can coexist happily, not simply for a long time. Numerous times, a couple will make an effort to get closer, but instead, they will grow resentful and furious, which may cause them to split up. Naveen Kohli v. Neelu Kohli is an important judgement that deals with the irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a ground for divorce. Here, Naveen Kohli and Neelu Kohli got married and had three sons. The respondent tried to put the appellant in jail multiple times. Both had made allegations against each other but did not have any relevant proof for the allegations and the appellant filed a petition for divorce.
This article was prepared with the specific intent of discussing the concept of the “irretrievable breakdown of marriage,” and the fact that males can also become victims of cruelty. So, in this case analysis, we will see the current laws about the concept and whether an irretrievable breakdown of marriage, a ground for divorce? And if not, should it be?
- Naveen Kohli and Neelu Kohli got married in the year 1975 and three sons were born out of that marriage. In order to provide each of his three sons with their own factory, the appellant built three factories.
- According to the appellant, the respondent has a toxic personality and impolite behaviour.
- After marriage, the respondent began acting badly toward the appellant and his parents, and the appellant had to move out of the family home and into a rental property.
- When they travelled to Bombay for his father-in-law’s silver jubilee wedding anniversary, he observed the respondent engaging in impermissible behaviour and discovered her in a compromising position with Dr. Biswas Rout.
- After the Bombay incident, the appellant started living separately and experienced severe emotional and physical abuse.
- Did the respondent cruelly abuse the plaintiff by filing a number of criminal charges, getting the news broadcast, and starting civil proceedings?
- Did the respondent receive cruel treatment from the defendant as a result of her unacceptable behaviour, as claimed in the plaint?
- Has the respondent falsely accused the plaintiff, or not? If so, what was the impact?
- Whether the defendant engaged in behaviour with Dr. Biswas Rout that falls under the category of immorality, as indicated in paragraph 11 of the complaint, while the plaintiff was present? If so, what was the impact?
- Is the petition maintainable based on preliminary objections 1–3 of the written statement?
- Has the defendant-maintained Smt. Shivangi as his concubine? If so, what was the impact?
- If Section 11 of the C.P.C. applies, is the plaintiff’s lawsuit barred?
- Is the plaintiff eligible to obtain a judgement of divorce against the defendant?
- Is the plaintiff eligible for any additional relief?
Contentions of the Appellant
The respondent transferred 950000 dollars out of the appellant’s bank account. He further said that the respondent had filed two fraudulent complaints against him in compliance with various IPC sections. It was further argued that the eldest son reported the appellant to the police at the respondent’s request, claiming that the appellant had physically assaulted the respondent’s son, Nitin Kohli. The appellant cited the respondent’s actions, including her declaration that her share should be provided within 15 days and her mailing of notification for dissolving the relationship and seeking the division of the properties.
Contentions of the Respondent
The respondent admitted that she opposed the appellant’s bail in the criminal case that was brought against him. She also admitted that she had filed a protest petition after the police filed their final reports in the two cases involving two of the police stations which showed that she indicated intense animosity toward the appellant. The respondent went so far as to file a warning in the High Court for the criminal case, she also complained about the amount of maintenance while the case was pending under section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act.
In her statement, she acknowledged that the newspaper had published an ad claiming that the appellant was an employee rather than the owner. She also acknowledged that she couldn’t recall whether or not she had called the appellant a fake or a criminal, but she didn’t deny having used unfair means against him. As stated in the facts, a number of cases, including criminal charges, have been brought by the respondent against the appellant, and every effort has been made to intimidate, abuse, and even imprison the appellant.
Findings of the Court
The Supreme Court decided the case and upheld the Family Court’s conclusions that the appellant had been subjected to the respondent’s psychological, physical, and financial abuse to the point where their marriage was irreparably broken. To grasp the extent of cruelty as defined in those cases, the Court dug into a number of court decisions. In matrimonial disputes, the purpose need not always be present in order to show “cruelty.” The claimed mistreatment may also result from socioeconomic or cultural disparities. Thus, the term must be used in its ordinary definition, and for the purposes of Section 13(1)(i)(a) of Hindu Marriage Act may include physical, mental, deliberate, or unintentional harm within its ambit.
The Supreme Court ordered that the appellant has to pay the respondent Rs. 25,00,000/- in the direction of eternal protection to be paid within eight weeks in order to resolve the issue in the best interests of everyone involved while also dissolving the marriage between the parties. This amount may include the Rs. 5,00,000/- deposit made by the appellant earlier and the respondent is free to withdraw the amount.
However, verbal abuse and insults using obscene language that constantly disturbs the other person’s mental serenity are examples of mental cruelty. Therefore, the SC dismissed the High Court’s decision and ordered that the parties’ marriage be dissolved in accordance with the terms of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955.
The Hindu Marriage Act 1955 was established after 8 years of India’s independence. The reasons why the parties might ask a competent court with jurisdiction to grant a divorce judgement are covered by Section 13 of the Marriage Act. Until now, India’s divorce laws have not recognised a situation in which the spouses are facing a situation in which, despite living together under the same roof, their marriage is similar to a separation. The irretrievable breakdown of marriage is still not covered by codified law. However, the supreme court has expressed particular concerns about the issue of making irretrievable breakdown of marriage a reason for divorce due to changes in social norms and the changing nature of marriage in society. In the present case, there are two legal issues involved and they are Cruelty and the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
The term “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” refers to a breakdown in the marital connection or conditions that are so harmful to the marriage that there is no longer a reasonable chance for the spouses to stay as husband and wife for mutual support and care. “Cruelty” is commonly defined as a marital act that results in others experiencing any form of suffering or distress, including monetary, emotional, and physical. There is no such definition of cruelty under the Hindu Marriage Act 1955.
While approaching the current situation of irretrievable breakdown of marriage in India, it may be claimed that the legislature has not made such breakdown a ground for divorce, despite the Supreme Court’s rulings in numerous cases have examined how important such a breakdown is as a foundation. The Supreme Court made effective use of the authority granted to it by Article 142 of the Indian Constitution in Srinivas Kumar v. R. Shametha, (2019) 9 SCC 409 and successfully ended numerous marriages on the same.
In the present case, the Supreme Court has ordered the separation of marriage in order to provide full justice and ease the suffering of the parties involved in a prolonged legal dispute. The Supreme Court ruled that the Respondent’s cold treatment of the Appellant, her refusal to grant a mutual consent divorce, the fact that the parties had been living apart for ten years and that both parties had filed numerous criminal and civil lawsuits all demonstrated that the marriage had irretrievably broken down and there was no chance of them reconciling. It was rightly decided by the Supreme Court because one cannot live together after suffering cruelty, after putting allegations or filing cases against each other.
The irretrievable breakdown of marriage should be recognised by the parliament as a basis for divorce, because in my opinion, continuing to be married to someone in such a situation can be dangerous to one’s mental health. It follows logically from the addition of the no-fault ground of mutual consent in divorce law that the concept of irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a basis for divorce needs to be included within the scope of divorce legislation. This is owing to the fact that mutual consent divorce does not take into account situations in which the marriage is actually dead due to a protracted separation but still exists on paper as a result of one party’s refusal to dissolve the union.
Even with the Law Commission of India’s multiple recommendations, India does not have the same type of legislation as other nations. It is hoped that legislation would be passed in India in the upcoming years to end the scenario where one spouse must suffer when the other is emphatic and plays with another’s life. The irretrievable breakdown of a marriage is a serious issue that can arise between any married couple and the law should look into this concept. In India, many people believe that only women are the victims of such cruelty in marriage but this case is the right instance for people who believe that. Around 51.5% of males have experienced some sort of mental cruelty in marriage and courts have experienced such cases.