Madhya Pradesh High Court Grants Divorce to Woman Citing Husband's Life Sentence as Mental Cruelty

Mainstream
11-Jun-2024
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The Madhya Pradesh High Court has granted divorce to a woman whose husband was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering his own father in a property dispute. The decision was rendered by a division bench comprising Justice Vivek Rusia and Justice Rajendra Kumar Vani.

The court acknowledged that while there is no explicit provision for granting divorce on the basis of a spouse’s criminal conviction, such circumstances can constitute mental cruelty, warranting divorce. "The conviction of the husband under Section 302 of IPC and sentence of life imprisonment amounts to mental cruelty towards the wife which entails her getting the divorce from her husband," the Court stated.

The couple married in 2011 and have a daughter. In 2020, the wife sought divorce from the family court in Gwalior, citing her husband’s 2019 conviction for murder and his cruel and aggressive behavior. The family court rejected her plea, asserting that a criminal conviction alone did not constitute cruelty and there was insufficient evidence of cruelty by the husband.

Upon appeal, the High Court noted the husband’s criminal background, with two registered cases against him, including his conviction for murder and an ongoing trial for attempted murder (Section 307 of IPC). The Court emphasized the mental anguish caused by the husband's criminal actions, stating, "It would be very difficult for a wife to live with a person who is facing trial under Section 307 of IPC and has been convicted under Section 302 of IPC for committing murder of his father; it would certainly cause mental cruelty to her."

The Court further reasoned that no wife can maintain a matrimonial relationship with a person who exhibits such extreme violence and impulsive criminal behavior. The judges also considered the welfare of the couple's young daughter, asserting that it would be detrimental for her to live with a father possessing a criminal background. "If she lives with the respondent at the age of 6 years it will not be advisable for her mental wellbeing," the Court added.

The High Court criticized the family court’s dismissal of the divorce plea, highlighting that the husband's arrest in 2017 had resulted in over two years of "situational desertion," further justifying the divorce. "Therefore, this is the situational desertion of the wife by the respondent/husband. On this ground also, she is entitled to divorce," the Court concluded.

In its judgment, the High Court underscored the constant fear and insecurity the wife would endure due to her husband's criminal history, ultimately overturning the family court’s decision and dissolving the marriage. This landmark ruling sets a significant precedent, recognizing the severe psychological impact a spouse's criminal actions can have on their partner, thereby constituting grounds for divorce.

Author: Anushka Taraniya

News writer