Grounds of Divorce for Husband in India

Grounds of Divorce for Husband in India

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Last Updated: Apr 10, 2024

While, many think that it is the wife who gets majority of the rights, there are a number of grounds on which a husband may file for divorce. The many reasons on which a divorce can be filed by either husband or wife before the court are stated in Section 13(1) of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955. Let us see what those grounds are.

Grounds of Divorce for Husband

  1. Adultery: it used to be a crime under Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, but the Supreme Court of India declared in Joseph Shine v. Union of India in 2018 that adultery was an antiquated and paternalistic legislation that kept one sex legally subordinate to the other. Thus, adultery is now a valid ground for divorce.
  2. Conversion: if the wife gets converted to another religion after the marriage and this does not require any minimum period to be passed in order to file the divorce plea.
  3. Unsound mind: if the woman suffers from a mental disorder, whether it is episodic or chronic. Mental sickness, poor mental development, or any psychopathic anomaly, such as schizophrenia, is all examples of mental disorders. If the mental illness is serious enough that he cannot reasonably be expected to remain with the wife, regardless of whether treatment is necessary or successful, the husband can file for divorce. Leprosy has been removed as a ground for divorce after the Personal Laws (Amendment) Laws, 2019 came into force, and now it is a curable disease. However, in cases of communicable forms of venereal diseases, then the husband can file for divorce given that the wife is suffering from such a disease since the last three years.
  4. Renunciation of the worldly affairs: if the wife joins any religious order, thus renouncing the worldly affairs forms a valid reason for separation.
  5. Presumption of death: if the wife is not being heard of for the past seven years by the near and dear ones, then the courts assume the person to be dead and subsequently the husband can file for divorce.
  6. Desertion: if the wife for any unreasonable cause or without lawful justification deserts the husband without his consent then that forms a valid reason for divorce. This also includes the willful neglect of the person by his wife.
  7. Restitution of Conjugal Rights and Cohabitation clause: if within one year of the passing of the decree for judicial separation the couple is unsuccessful to cohabit, then the husband can file a divorce plea. Similarly, if they are unsuccessful in restoring the rights created by marriage i.e. the duties as a couple towards each other within one year of the passing of the order then the husband can file for divorce.

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Mental Cruelty by Wife on Husband

Before the 1976 amendment to the Personal laws Act, the cruelty was not considered as a valid ground for divorce it was only considered as a reason for judicial separation only when the parties desired so. In such a case, the injured spouse was expected to prove beyond doubt that the cruelty subjected on them has made it impossible to live with the alleged person any longer. After the 1976 amendment, the cruelty has been defined in the Section 498A as “to cause reasonable apprehension of harm or injury in the mind of the petitioner such that it becomes impossible to live with the other spouse” and now is available for both judicial separation and divorce. When we look into the ambit of cruelty, we can see that the healthy state of mind is equally important as that of the body. Thus, mental cruelty can even come in a marital relationship alone without any physical harm or cruelty in the background. Since, these miniscule instances may sum up later and lead to disastrous consequences such as self harm or worst suicide.

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The Supreme Court has advanced its opinion on mental cruelty more broadly in a number of the case laws. In Lakshi Meenakshi v. Chetty mahadevappa, the wife had humiliated and defamed the husband before all the villagers and was also in an adulterous relationship with another man but she placed the allegations of harassment by the hands of both husband and in-laws. She stated that she was thrown out of house and since has been living with her parents the last four years. The husband on the other hand alleged innocence and premised his innocence on the basis of infidelity by the wife. Thus, noting all the pointers the Supreme Court held that if one of the spouses is in infidelity, then that amounts to mental cruelty to the other one.

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Mental cruelty can be perpetuated by the alleged person in a number of ways and it need not always be committed by the husband on the wife, it can even be done by the wife. In Mayadevi v. Jagdish Prasad, 2017 the Supreme Court faced a case wherein the husband and the kids were subjected to mental cruelty by denying them food and also committing other forms of torture in the hands of the wife. Thus, the court granted the husband divorce on the grounds of mental cruelty. In Naveen kohli V. Neelu Kohli, another form of mental cruelty came before the court, here the wife filed false FIR against the husband on those crimes which he never committed. Also, she fraudulently took hefty amount of money from his account. The court noted that in this case the wife was adamant in making the husband’s life miserable, and thus he was granted the divorce promptly. In Joydeep Majumdar V. Bharti j. Majumdar, the wife was accused of making malicious complaints against the husband to his superiors which consequently lead to the loss of his career and his reputation. The high court at first treated this as the case of ordinary conflicts in a marital relationship, thus not granting the husband divorce. But, the Supreme Court set aside the HC’s judgement and stated that the explanation given by the wife that it is her right as a wife to file complaints to his superiors with the intent to save their matrimonial ties is inherently unreasoned since it inadvertently lead to the loss of the career and reputation of the husband which could not be justified in the eyes of law.

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