Failure to meet financial responsibilities is cruelty, desertion: Punjab and Haryana High Court : The Tribune India

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Failure to meet financial responsibilities is cruelty, desertion: Punjab and Haryana High Court

Failure to meet financial responsibilities is cruelty, desertion: Punjab and Haryana High Court

Photo for representational purpose only. iStock

Tribune News Service

Saurabh Malik

Chandigarh, May 15

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has declared that a husband's failure to fulfil his financial responsibilities can be construed as an act of cruelty and desertion. The Bench also clarified that it would not automatically assume cruelty and desertion on the part of a wife proceeded ex-parte during the proceedings.

The ruling by the Bench of Justice Sudhir Singh and Justice Harsh Bunger came on an appeal filed by a husband directed against family court judgment, whereby his petition for divorce under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act on the grounds of cruelty and desertion was dismissed.

The Bench during the course of hearing observed that notice on the husband’s petition before the family court was issued to the respondent-wife through publication, but she failed to appear either in person through counsel. Accordingly, she was proceeded against as ex-parte.

The counsel representing the appellant-husband contended that the respondent-wife did not participate in the legal proceedings. She failed to counter the pleadings and evidence presented by the husband. As such, the husband's argument remained unchallenged. It was, as such, incumbent upon the family court to grant the decree of divorce

“Despite the respondent-wife having been proceeded ex-parte during the proceedings, it is crucial to emphasise that no adverse inference can be automatically drawn against her regarding the allegations of cruelty and desertion. In order to reach a logical conclusion, the court can always consider the veracity of the allegations raised and examine the same on the basis of evidence led,” the Bench observed.

It added that the husband could not show anything from the record regarding the payment of maintenance amount to the respondent-wife or their minor child. The lack of provision made by the husband for the maintenance of the wife and their minor child would raise serious concerns about his conduct in the wedlock.

“The failure to fulfil basic financial responsibilities, contributes to the characterisation of cruelty and desertion on the part of the appellant. Thus, by the common prudence, it can safely be concluded that the appellant-husband by filing the petition for divorce wanted to take the benefit of his own wrongs. Having himself failed to perform his matrimonial obligations, the appellant-husband cannot be allowed to plead that the trial court ought to have granted him divorce because, the respondent-wife had been proceeded ex-party,” the Bench asserted.

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