IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 10719 OF 2013
Raj Talreja … Appellant(s)
Kavita Talreja …Respondent(s)
J U D G M E N T
DEEPAK GUPTA, J.
Parties to the appeal got married in 1989 according to Hindu
rites. Out of this wedlock a son was born in the year 1990. It is not
disputed that till the year 1999 both husband and wife lived together with
the parents of the husband. In the year 1999, the couple shifted to their
own residence. On 19.03.2000, the husband left the matrimonial home and,
soon thereafter, on 25.03.2000, filed a petition for grant of a decree of
divorce dissolving the marriage.
2. It is not disputed that the wife filed a suit praying for injunction
that the husband should not be permitted to enter the matrimonial home. On
07.11.2000, certain news items appeared in the newspapers in which serious
allegations were made against the husband. These newspaper reports were
based on the intimation given by the wife. On 04.12.2000, the wife filed a
complaint to the State Women Commission making serious allegations against
the husband. Thereafter, on 05.12.2000, she sent a similar letter to the
Chief Justice of the High Court as well as the Superintendent of Police.
Finally, on 07.12.2000, she made another complaint to the Chief Minister.
On 16.03.2001, these complaints were found to be false. On 12.04.2001, a
First Information Report (for short the ‘FIR’) was registered at the
instance of the wife against the appellant husband under Section 452, 323
and 341 of the Indian Penal Code. The police investigated the matter and
filed a report on 30.04.2001 stating that there is no merit in the FIR.
According to the police, the injuries on the person of the wife were self
inflicted and she has filed a false FIR. It was recommended that the
criminal proceedings be initiated against her under Section 182 of the
Indian Penal Code (for short ‘IPC’). It is not disputed that till
16.03.2001, such criminal proceedings were initiated against the wife.
3. The husband moved an amendment application in the divorce petition
incorporating all these facts and alleging that due to filing of the false
complaints before various authorities he had been subjected to cruelty by
the wife. This is the only issue raised before us. The learned trial Judge
dismissed the petition. The appeal filed by the husband was also
dismissed. Hence, this appeal.
4. It would be pertinent to mention that in the year 2012, 11 years
after the police had submitted its report and after proceedings had been
initiated against the wife, the wife filed a protest petition against the
cancellation of FIR against the husband, in which notice was issued by the
court below. However, on a revision being filed by the husband, the
revisional court allowed the revision petition and quashed the order of the
trial court. As a result, there are no criminal proceedings pending
against the husband.
5. We have heard Mr. Gaurav Agrawal, learned counsel for the appellant
and Ms. Vibha Datta Makhija, learned senior counsel for the respondent.
6. Mr. Agrawal, learned counsel has contended that the acts of the wife
in levelling defamatory allegations and filing false complaints against the
husband amounts to cruelty. On the other hand, Ms. Makhija, learned senior
counsel has submitted that her client is not at fault and cruelty has not
been proved. She further submits that her client wants the status of being
a legally married woman and she prays that the appeal be dismissed.
7. We may now refer to the evidence relied upon by the husband. The
first is a newspaper report dated 07.11.2000, in which it is reported that
the wife had alleged that she was beaten by her husband and his family
members many times for not fulfilling the demand of dowry. There were
allegations that she was kept like an orphan and twice attempts had been
made to set her on fire. These allegations were made in a letter sent by
the wife to the police. Thereafter, the wife sent a similar complaint to
various authorities including the State Women Commission, Rajasthan. She
sent a telegram to the Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court again
alleging that her husband and in-laws had attempted to burn her and engaged
goondas to eliminate her. Complaint was also made to Chief Minister of
Rajasthan. The matter was referred to the police. On investigation by the
police, the allegations were found to be totally false. Thereafter, the
wife filed a complaint against her husband and 3 other persons alleging
house trespass against them and that she had been assaulted and threatened
to leave the house. In this case also, the final report of the police is
that the complaint is baseless and false and the injuries were self-
8. As noted above, these findings of the police have attained finality
and as on date there is no criminal case pending against the husband. It
is more than obvious that the allegations levelled by the wife are false.
It may be true that these allegations were levelled after the divorce
petition had been filed and the wife may have been in an agitated state of
mind. However, that did not give her a right to make defamatory statements
against the husband. The falseness of the allegations is borne out from
the fact that the police did not even find it a fit case to be tried.
After the police filed its cancellation report, the wife kept silent and
after 11 years she filed a protest petition.
9. This Court in Para 16 of K. Srinivas Rao v. D.A. Deepa has held as
“16. Thus, to the instances illustrative of mental cruelty noted in Samar
Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh, 2007 (4) SCC 511, we could add a few more. Making
unfounded indecent defamatory allegations against the spouse or his or her
relatives in the pleadings, filing of complaints or issuing notices or news
items which may have adverse impact on the business prospect or the job of
the spouse and filing repeated false complaints and cases in the court
against the spouse would, in the facts of a case, amount to causing mental
cruelty to the other spouse.”
In Ravi Kumar v. Julmidevi, this Court while dealing with the
definition of cruelty held as follows:
“19. It may be true that there is no definition of cruelty under the said
Act. Actually such a definition is not possible. In matrimonial
relationship, cruelty would obviously mean absence of mutual respect and
understanding between the spouses which embitters the relationship and
often leads to various outbursts of behaviour which can be termed as
cruelty. Sometime cruelty in a matrimonial relationship may take the form
of violence, sometime it may take a different form. At times, it may be
just an attitude or an approach. Silence in some situations may amount to
20. Therefore, cruelty in matrimonial behaviour defies any definition and
its categories can never be closed. Whether the husband is cruel to his
wife or the wife is cruel to her husband has to be ascertained and judged
by taking into account the entire facts and circumstances of the given case
and not by any predetermined rigid formula. Cruelty in matrimonial cases
can be of infinite variety—it may be subtle or even brutal and may be by
gestures and words. That possibly explains why Lord Denning in Sheldon v.
Sheldon, (1966) 2 WLR 993 held that categories of cruelty in matrimonial
cases are never closed.”
10. Cruelty can never be defined with exactitude. What is cruelty
will depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case. In the present
case, from the facts narrated above, it is apparent that the wife made
reckless, defamatory and false accusations against her husband, his family
members and colleagues, which would definitely have the effect of lowering
his reputation in the eyes of his peers. Mere filing of complaints is not
cruelty, if there are justifiable reasons to file the complaints. Merely
because no action is taken on the complaint or after trial the accused is
acquitted may not be a ground to treat such accusations of the wife as
cruelty within the meaning of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 (for short ‘the
Act’). However, if it is found that the allegations are patently false,
then there can be no manner of doubt that the said conduct of a spouse
levelling false accusations against the other spouse would be an act of
cruelty. In the present case, all the allegations were found to be false.
Later, she filed another complaint alleging that her husband along with
some other persons had trespassed into her house and assaulted her. The
police found, on investigation, that not only was the complaint false but
also the injuries were self inflicted by the wife. Thereafter, proceedings
were launched against the wife under Section 182 of IPC.
11. We have perused the judgment of the High Court. The High Court
while dealing with the plea of false complaints held that there was no
reason to hold that the criminal complaint filed by the respondent-wife was
false and mala fide. We are unable to agree with this finding of the High
Court and the court below. Both the courts below relied upon the statement
of the wife that her husband had often visited her house and she fulfilled
her marital obligations. These observations are not based on any reliable
or cogent evidence on record. It is not disputed before us that the wife
continues to live in the house which belongs to the mother of the husband
whereas the husband lives along with his parents in a separate house and
the son and daughter-in-law of the parties live with the wife. The son is
working with the husband. We may note that Ms. Makhija has very fairly
stated before us that the husband had always fulfilled his paternal
obligations to his son and is continuing to pay maintenance to his wife as
fixed by the court.
12. Though we have held that the acts of the wife in filing false
complaints against the husband amounts to cruelty, we are, however, not
oblivious to the requirements of the wife to have a decent house where she
can live. Her son and daughter-in-law may not continue to live with her
forever. Therefore, some permanent arrangement has to be made for her
alimony and residence. Keeping in view the status of the parties, we
direct that the husband shall pay to the wife a sum of Rs.50,00,000/-
(Rupees Fifty Lakhs only) as one time permanent alimony and she will not
claim any further amount at any later stage. This amount be paid within
three months from today. We further direct that the wife shall continue to
live in the house which belongs to the mother of the husband till the
husband provides her a flat of similar size in a similar locality. For
this purpose, the husband is directed to ensure that a flat of the value up
to Rs.1,00,00,000/- (Rupees One Crore Only) be transferred in the name of
his wife and till it is provided, she shall continue to live in the house
in which she is residing at present.
13. The appeal is accordingly allowed. The judgment and order dated
01.03.2013, passed by the High Court in D.B. Civil Miscellaneous Appeal
No.1432 of 2004 and the judgment and decree dated 05.08.2004, passed by the
Family Court, Udaipur in Civil Case No. 56 of 2000 are set aside. The
petition for divorce filed by the husband under Section 13 of the Act is
decreed and the marriage of the parties solemnized on 13.04.1989 is
dissolved by a decree of divorce. The wife shall be entitled to permanent
alimony of Rs. 50,00,000/- (Rupees Fifty Lakhs Only) and a residential flat
of the value of up to Rs.1,00,00,000/- (Rupees One Crore Only), as directed
hereinabove. Pending application(s), if any, stand(s) disposed of.
(ADARSH KUMAR GOEL)
April 24, 2017
 2013 (5) SCC 226.
 2010 (4) SCC 476.