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If the husband indulges in the habit of excessive drinking instead of discharging family responsibilities, it amounts to mental cruelty to the wife: Chhattisgarh High Court

In a recent judgment of the Chhattisgarh High Court, a matrimonial appeal (FA (MAT) No. 4, 2022) was concluded in favor of the appellant, allowing him divorce on the ground of mental cruelty. Justice Gautam Bhaduri and Justice Sanjay S. The judgment delivered by Agarwal highlighted the wife’s claims of abuse, neglect and excessive drinking by the husband.

The case revolves around the marriage that took place between the two parties on February 2, 2006, which resulted in the birth of two children. The appellant, the wife, alleged that her husband’s excessive drinking had resulted in severe intoxication, physical abuse and a decline in the overall well-being of their family. The court noted that the husband had failed to provide financial support for the children’s education and even resorted to selling household items.

Despite the absence of the husband in the court proceedings and non-response to the notice, the wife presented her case with evidence. She reported the incidents of abuse and neglect to the police, but no further action was taken. The appellant also referred to an earlier divorce petition which she had withdrawn on the ground of the husband’s promise to reform his behaviour. However, his actions worsened, prompting her to file a second divorce petition.

While delivering its verdict, the court referred to the established guidelines of the Supreme Court on mental cruelty, as laid down in Samar Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh. The judgment referred to para 101 of the case, which said, “No uniform standard can ever be laid down for guidance,” and gave examples where mental cruelty can be inferred.

The court observed that excessive drinking, abusive behavior and neglect of family responsibilities by the husband amounted to mental cruelty. “Failing to do so, the husband/respondent can safely be said to have subjected the wife to mental cruelty,” the judges declared. He admitted that the wife had earlier tried to save the marriage by withdrawing the divorce petition on the ground of her husband’s promise to reform.