Mental Cruelty A Ground For Divorce Subject To Both Men And Women

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Mental Cruelty A Ground For Divorce

Written By: Swapna Sudha Sahoo


Cruelty refers to something which is associated with violent activity. However, any kind of misunderstanding or fight between the couples will not amount to any cruelty since it’s quite common among couples to do so in their day-to-day activities. Anything that is related to cruelty will be severe and inhuman in nature. Apart from physical violence even mental cruelty is considered inhuman in nature and is punishable under law. Any kind of mental or physical torture is unbearable and should be avoided.

Cruelty As A Ground For Divorce

The marital life can be blissful without any kind of problem between couples as they lead it peacefully still there may be certain problems that might arise and create disturbances between the couples. Any kind of cruelty whether be it mental or physical is intolerable and unacceptable. The rift in marriage arises due to this cruelty between the husband and wife which ultimately leads to divorce which is a ground for mental cruelty.

Marital violence may include the following things under it:

  • Any kind of physical or mental violence on the spouse
  • Committing adultery by having sexual intercourse with any other person other than a spouse.
  • Constant abusing the spouse and also releasing the frustration and agony.
  • Taking away the identity of the spouse by restricting her to do certain things in his/her own way.
  • Not disclosing any sexually transmitted disease while being in the marriage to the spouse.

The conduct of either spouse falls under matrimonial law. When a couple of files for divorce the court has to go through all the facts and circumstances that may surround it and give the judgment on the basis of it.

Divorce usually means the separation of the husband and wife or the dissolution of marriage with the help of lawyers and with the help of prescribed law.

How Cruelty Was Established As A Ground For Divorce

If we go through the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 we can come to the conclusion that cruelty was never the ground of divorce. It was only the ground for judicial separation. If a person is filing a case of cruelty then he/she needs to prove that the cruelty was so grave and unbearable that it became too hard for him/her to bear.

A recent judgment was passed in the case of Narayan Ganesh Dastane vs. Sucheta Narayan Dastane. This was the case in which cruelty was added as a ground for divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act 1955. However, the court stated that the parties’ lawyers need to go through the facts of the case in order to know the subject matter of the case so that they can file the case of divorce. Whenever there is any case of divorce then in that case usually the lawyers try to make a compromise between the parties but sometimes they might fail in this.

After the amendment of this act, the cruelty was held an important ground under divorce rather than being an important ground under the judicial separation.

Related Case Law

In the case of Reema Aggarwal vs. Anupam and Ors, Reema was being harassed by her husband and in-laws for not being able to provide them with sufficient dowry. They tried to murder her by forcibly putting some acidic substance on her mouth for which she was being immediately rushed to the hospital. The marriage was a second marriage. So the court held that the husband of the second wife during the subsistence of the first wife is no husband of the second wife under section 498A so the second wife can not invoke this section. So the accused were released of the charged offenses under section 307,498A of IPC.

Kinds Of Cruelty

Physical Cruelty

This type of cruelty includes physical violence, abuse, torture inflicting the victim with minor and major injuries. This may result in the breakage of the body, hands, limbs, etc. Physical cruelty is one of the main reasons for the dissolution of marriage. Since time immemorial there has been the patriarchal system of society where women were considered as only property and were the objects for torture. Section 320 of IPC defines grievous hurt. Assault, cruelty, and grievous hurt are interrelated to each other.

Mental Cruelty

Even mental cruelty has the same weightage as physical cruelty. Harming or torturing any person mentally is very sickening and unacceptable. It’s something that no one should do. Hurting the mental peace of mind or psychology of a person is the worst thing to do. Usually, the people who are emotional or soft-hearted easily get hurt by such a type of cruelty.

Mental cruelty is considered as one of the grounds for divorce. In this, the victim has the full right to leave her in-laws house if she is being prone to more injuries mentally.

In the landmark judgment of Mayadevi vs. Jagdish Prasad, it was held by the Supreme Court of India that any kind of mental cruelty faced by either of the spouses can apply as a ground for divorce. In this case, the husband filed a case of mental cruelty in which the wife mentally tortures him. She doesn’t provide him with food and keeps him locked in a room. So even a man is entitled to get a divorce if he is inflicted with any kind of cruelty.


There are a lower number of cases registered under cruelty for seeking divorce as because usually people prefer to settle and compromise rather than raising their voices and seeking justice. But laws are made to safeguard the interests and obligations of the people so if any person whether male or female if faces any kind of cruelty needs to raise his/her voice and file a case against the accused to get justice.

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