In a profound judicial pronouncement, the Patna High Court, in its wisdom, has opined that a spouse, even if granting acquiescence to her husband’s subsequent marriage, retains the prerogative to institute a complaint against him under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), pertaining to cruelty [Arun Kumar Singh vs Nirmala Devi].
A divisional bench, presided over by Justices Pavankumar Bajanthri and Jitendra Kumar, resolutely repudiated the appellant-husband’s contention that he had entered into a second matrimonial alliance in 2004 with the explicit antecedent consent of his initial wife, whom he had espoused in May 1978.
The esteemed bench astutely recognized that the second marital union culminated in failure in 2005. Subsequently, in 2010, the aggrieved first wife proceeded to institute a case under Section 498A against her spouse, citing his cruelty.
It was decreed that the husband’s pursuit of a second marital partnership, purportedly endorsed by his first wife, inherently engendered anguish to the latter. This act was deemed sufficiently egregious to provide her with justifiable cause to reside apart and, consequently, to initiate legal proceedings under Section 498A. The Court cogently expounded that, as a universally acknowledged norm, such subsequent marriages are bereft of toleration by the affected spouse, thereby categorizing the act of entering into a second matrimonial alliance as an act of cruelty, thereby furnishing a substantiated rationale for initiating complaints under Section 498A.
Additionally, the erudite bench elucidated that the mere lodgment of criminal complaints under Section 498A by the wife cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be construed as cruelty inflicted upon the husband.
This momentous judicial pronouncement stemmed from an appeal lodged by the husband, contesting the dismissal of his plea for divorce by a family court in Sheikhpura in July 2017.
The husband’s narrative outlined his nuptial vows exchanged with his first wife in 1978. Nevertheless, following the birth of their daughter, his spouse’s demeanor underwent a transformation, prompting them to lead separate lives. In 2004, the husband embarked upon his second marital journey, asserting prior acquiescence from his initial spouse.
Subsequently, in 2010, the first wife initiated legal proceedings, registering a complaint under Section 498A, alongside Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. She also initiated a second criminal case under Section 498A.
The husband, anticipating the repercussions, sought anticipatory bail in both cases. The High Court, while extending him legal reprieve, imposed the obligation of disbursing ₹5,000 per month to his initial wife as alimony, accompanied by an additional disbursement of ₹5 lakh for their daughter’s matrimony.
The daughter’s marriage, transpiring in 2013, prompted the husband to solicit his wife’s consent for mutual divorce. Regrettably, his plea was declined.
Resolute in his resolve, he filed for divorce on grounds of cruelty under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. His assertion postulated that the cases instituted by his wife were deceitful and driven by a malevolent intent to torment him.
Regrettably for the husband, the family court adjudged his plea and found no merit in his contention, prompting him to resort to the auspices of the High Court for reprieve.
The High Court opined that the husband failed to substantiate his claim that the cases filed by his first wife under Section 498A were spurious and fabricated, contrived with the sinister objective of persecuting him.
Hence, the present appeal, underscoring the husband’s pursuit of legal recourse, was regrettably dismissed by the erudite bench.
Advocate Ashok Kumar Garg was the stalwart representing the Husband, whereas Advocate Shree Kant Pandey gallantly championed the cause of the Wife.
Bar and bench