18 lakhs alimony in spite of 25 years desertion !! Rajastan HC

  • checkered history of fights between spouses
  • husband claims that wife was a widow from her earlier marriage and it was hidden from him
  • he claims that she was also cantankerous
  • after initial spats etc, wife finally leaves in 1991
  • after numerous cases, matter finally reaches Rajastan HC. HC Also sees desertion / decrees desertion
  • However, IN the INTEREST of justice, HC says pay her 6 lakhs in addition to the 12 lakhs already paid !!
    …..and that is EVEN after an 18 year desertion !! …..

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE FOR
RAJASTHAN AT JODHPUR

:JUDGMENT:

S.B. CIVIL MISC. APPEAL NO.99/1996

APPELLANT :

Smt. Raj Kumari @ Chandrakala w/o Shri Nandlal D/o
Shri Badri Singh, by caste Mali Kachhawaha, resident
of Sardarshahar at present Bikaner.

Versus

RESPONDENT :

Nandlal son of Late Shri Dalchand Ji, By caste Mali,
Sangodiya, resident of Sardarshahar Churu.

Date of Judgment :: 17.10.2016

PRESENT

HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE ARUN BHANSALI

Mr. Salil Trivedi, for the appellant/s.
Mr. Rajesh Parihar ) for the respondent/s.
Mr. Vinit Sanadhya)


BY THE COURT:

This appeal under Section 28 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (‘the Act’) is directed against the judgment and decree dated 5.10.1995 passed by the District Judge, Churu, whereby the petition filed by the respondent under Section 13 of the Act has been accepted and marriage between the parties has been dissolved.

The dispute between the parties has a checkered history. The petition for dissolution of marriage was filed by the respondent-husband under Sections 12 & 13 of the Act, inter-alia, with the averments that the marriage was solemnized between the parties on 20.11.1989 at Bikaner at the residence of Dr. Durga Gehlot; a daughter was borne out of the wedlock on 5.9.1990. It was alleged that the family members of the wife at the time of marriage wrongly indicated her name as Rajkumari and her age at 21 years, in fact, her real name was Chandrakala and her age as per the school certificate was much more and she was widow of Dr. Anil Kumar Gehlot, whereas it was informed that she was unmarried. It was alleged that marriage was solemnized by committing fraud, the said fact came to the notice of the husband during the posting at Bikaner and FIR No.197 dated 25.10.1993 was lodged, which is being investigated. It was alleged that the wife was of cantankerous nature and behaved cruelly with the husband and family members. It was alleged that while behaving in the offending manner, the wife continued to move between her matrimonial home and parental home and on 7.12.1991, uncle (mama) of the wife, without permission took her with him. Whereafter, she did not turn up till 25.10.1993 and continued to refuse to live with the husband. Before 25.10.1993, several efforts were made for bringing her back, however, the parents and aunty of the wife intimated that if the husband wants to come and live with her, he can come and live, the wife was not prepared to go and live with him. It was also alleged that despite repeated efforts made between 7.12.1991 to 25.10.1993, the wife did not return back and has deserted the husband. Based on the said allegation of cruelty and desertion, the petition was filed.

The appellant herein was served with the notice of the petition, she appeared through counsel before the trial court, however, on 26.8.1995, her counsel pleaded no instructions and therefore, ex-parte proceedings were initiated.

On behalf of the husband, four witnesses were examined and documents were exhibited.

After hearing counsel for the husband, the trial court came to the conclusion that desertion was proved, cruelty was also proved, however, it was held that in so far as fraud and declaring the marriage as void was concerned, the same was not proved and consequently, passed decree on 5.10.1995 for dissolution of marriage.

Feeling aggrieved, the appellant filed an appeal before this Court. When initially, the appeal came up before this Court for hearing, by judgment dated 13.12.2001, the appeal was dismissed on merits.

Feeling aggrieved, the appellant approached the Division Bench by filing D.B. Civil Special Appeal (Civil) No.8/2002. The Division Bench by its order dated 15.10.2009, set-aside the finding recorded by the trial court as well as learned Single Judge regarding curelty. However, qua the ground of desertion, it was noticed that the learned Single Judge has not given his own finding on said aspect and question as to whether ground of desertion was made or not is required to be probed into thread bare by the learned Single Judge and in those circumstances, the matter was sent back to the learned Single Judge for deciding the question of desertion afresh.

During the pendency of the present appeal, post remand, efforts were made for resolving the dispute amicably; on 19.8.2015, it was noticed by this Court in the order-sheet that the appellant wanted the ex-parte decree granted in favour of the respondent-husband Nandlal to be set-aside as she wanted to press for restoration of status as married wife of Nandlal. It was also noticed that the respondent-husband has since remarried with another woman namely Ambika in November, 1997 and out of second marriage, a child named Aditya was born and was aged 15 years and that there was no possibility for restoration of matrimonial home with the appellant. However, readiness and willingness to pay permanent alimony was expressed, the court directed deposited Rs.12,00,000/- towards part payment of amount of permanent alimony and it was directed that the said payment would remain subject to final decision of the present appeal, which amount of Rs.12,00,000/- was deposited by the respondent as noticed by order-sheet dated 5.1.2016.

It is submitted by learned counsel for the appellant that the trial court committed error in granting the decree on the ground of desertion, inasmuch as, the respondent had failed to plead and prove the necessary ingredients for proving the ground of desertion. It was submitted that irrespective of the fact that matter was proceeding ex-parte against the appellant, it was incumbent for the trial court to objectively assess the evidence available on record, which clearly indicates that no ground is made out as envisaged by provisions of Section 13(1)(ib) of the Act.

Reference was made to the second explanation to Section 13 and it was submitted that there was reasonable cause for the appellant to leave the matrimonial home, inasmuch as, circumstances were created forcing her to leave the matrimonial home. It was submitted that the very fact that FIR was lodged by the respondent alleging fraud on 25.10.1993, necessarily means that before 7.12.1991, on account of allegations made, atmosphere was created which resulted in the appellant leaving the matrimonial home and therefore, the necessary ingredients for providing desertion are not available and consequently, the finding of the trial court in this regard deserves to be set-aside. It was prayed that the appeal be allowed and the judgment impugned be set-aside.

Vehemently, opposing the submissions, it was submitted by learned counsel for the respondent that from the material available on record, it was apparent that the appellant has deserted the respondent for a continuous period of two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition and had no cause for doing so; the submissions made by learned counsel for the appellant seeking to allege that there was reasonable cause on account of the fact that the respondent lodged an FIR on 25.10.1993 alleging fraud against the petitioner is, in fact, seeking premium on the wrongs committed by her. It as further submitted that from the evidence available on record, the desertion is proved, inasmuch as, the appellant chose not to contest the petition after putting an appearance before the trial court; even after passing of the impugned judgment, application under Order IX, Rule 13 CPC filed by the appellant was also dismissed by the trial court on 19.1.1996 and therefore, the appellant has no cause.

It was submitted that the desertion is also proved from the very fact that the appellant did not take any steps for restitution of conjugal right, if she had any interest in restoration of the matrimonial home.

Further submissions were made that present is a typical case of irretrievable break down of marriage, inasmuch as, admittedly parties are living separately since 7.12.1991 i.e. over 25 years now and after passing of the ex-parte decree and dismissal of application under Order IX, Rule 13 CPC and before the respondent was served with a notices in the present appeal, the respondent had contracted another marriage and has a child from the said wedlock. It was prayed that the judgment passed by the trial court is justified and same does not call for any interference.

Further submissions were made that under the directions of this Court the respondent had already paid a huge sum of Rs.12,00,000/- towards permanent alimony and is prepared to pay further reasonable sum in this regard and therefore, the appeal filed by the appellant deserves to be dismissed.

Reliance was placed on Sujata Uday Patil v. Uday Madhukar Patil : (2006)13 SCC 272.

I have considered the submissions made by learned counsel for the parties and have perused the material available on record.

During the pendency of the appeal, an application under Order XLI, Rule 27 CPC was filed by the appellant inter-alia for placing on record the copy of judgment dated 11.6.2008 passed by the Additional Sessions Judge No.2, Bikaner in Cr. Appeal No.2/2007 (State of Rajasthan v. Nandlal) and copy of the statement dated 18.10.2001 recorded in the criminal trial before the Court of Additional Civil Judge (Jr.Div.)-cum- Judicial Magistrate, Ist Class, No.2, Bikaner. In the said application, except for indicating that the documents came into existence during the pendency of the appeal, nothing has been indicated as to how the documents were relevant for the proper adjudication of the present appeal and even during the course of submissions in the present appeal, no reference was made to either the application and / or the documents annexed with the application. In view thereof, besides the fact that no submissions were made qua the application and documents, even otherwise, there is no substance in the application, the same is, therefore, dismissed.

The essential condition for proving the ground of desertion are (i) – factum of separation and (ii)- intention to bring cohabitation permanently to an end (animus deserendi). Similarly, two elements are essential so far as deserted spouse is concerned, (i)- absence of consent and (ii)- absence of conduct giving reasonable cause to spouse leaving matrimonial home to form necessary intention aforesaid. In the present case, the husband, in the petition seeking divorce alleged that on 7.12.1991 uncle of the appellant without permission took the appellant to Bikaner from Sardarshahar and whereafter, she did not return back to the matrimonial home till 25.10.1993 and continued to deny to live with the respondent at Sardarshahar. Efforts were made by the respondent and his close relatives before 25.10.1993 for bringing her back which was responded by counter proposal to the respondent to go and live with the wife at her parental home. It was also alleged that besides not returning back to the matrimonial home at Sardarshahar, the appellant did not visit the place where the respondent was serving, however, all the efforts made in this regard failed and it was apparent that the wife has deserted him. http://evinayak.tumblr.com/ ; https://vinayak.wordpress.com/ ; https://twitter.com/ATMwithDick

As already noticed herein-before, after service though the appellant put in appearance, whereafter as the counsel pleaded no instructions, the matter proceed ex-parte against the appellant and on behalf of the respondent, 04 witnesses were examined.

The respondent appeared as AW-1 and reiterated the contents of the petition. Further assertions were made that despite several efforts being made by the respondent and people of the Society, the appellant did not return back to the matrimonial home.

AW-2 Bharat Bhushan Arya, a lawyer by profession and Secretary of Mali Samaj, Bikaner and Vice President of Rajasthan Mali Samaj appeared in the witness-box and stated that despite efforts being made by the respondent, the father, uncle and aunty of the appellant did not send the appellant back to the matrimonial home. He tried to convince the appellant / parties to go back to the matrimonial home, which was rejected and it was suggested that the respondent should go and live with them.

AW-3 Banwari Lal, elder brother of the respondent also stated that uncle of the appellant took her to Bikaner from Sardarshahar and stated that the respondent can come and live with them, efforts were made to bring the appellant with them, the uncle of the appellant refused, efforts were made through Mali Samaj, however, that also did not succeed. AW-4 Rajendra, a neighbour of the respondent was examined, who also stated similar facts regarding uncle of the appellant taking her back to parental home and stated that the respondent can come and live with them.

From the material available on record as well as the submissions made by counsel for the parties, it is apparent that the appellant had left the matrimonial home on 7.12.1991 and despite the efforts made by the respondent, his family members and people of Mali Samaj, the appellant did not return back to the matrimonial home, on the other hand, it was insisted that in case, the respondent wants, he can come and live at the parental home of the appellant.

No submissions were made by counsel for the appellant to indicate that any efforts were made by the appellant to get back into the matrimonial home including filing of petition under Section 9 of the Act for restitution of conjugal rights.

So far as the submissions made by learned counsel for the appellant seeking to make out a case of reasonable cause in terms of second explanation to Section 13 is concerned, the said explanation reads as under:- “Explanation.- In this sub-section, the expression “desertion” means the desertion of the petitioner by the other party to the marriage without reasonable cause and without the consent or against the wish of such party, and includes the wilful neglect of the petitioner by the other party to the marriage, and its grammatical variations and cognate expressions shall be construed accordingly.”

The submission made on behalf of the appellant is that from the dates indicated in the petition, whereby the appellant left the matrimonial home on 7.12.1991 and a FIR was lodged by the respondent alleging fraud on 25.10.1993 against the appellant, necessarily means that the atmosphere in the matrimonial home was such that it forced the appellant to leave the matrimonial home and therefore, she had a reasonable cause and therefore, the necessary ingredients as indicated in the explanation has not been fulfilled.

Besides the fact that no such plea was available before the trial court and consequently, there is no material available on record regarding the alleged reasonable cause for the appellant to leave the matrimonial home, it was the specific case of the respondent that as soon as he came to know of the fraud having been committed by the appellant, he lodged the FIR on 25.10.1993, this is not the case of the appellant that after the FIR was lodged that she left the matrimonial home and / or that the respondent came to know about the facts, which led to filing of the FIR even long prior to 7.12.1991 and the atmosphere was so poisoned that she have no option but to leave the matrimonial home. As the respondent has clearly indicated that the FIR was lodged on 25.10.1993 immediately on coming to know of the fraud on 25.10.1993, that cannot be a reasonable cause on 7.12.1991 for the appellant to leave the matrimonial home and therefore, the submissions made by learned counsel for the appellant seeking to plead reasonable cause for the appellant to leave the matrimonial home has no basis.

The ingredients of desertion as noticed hereinbefore i.e. factum of separation and intention to bring cohabitation permanently to an end are both proved and the defence as sought to be now projected in the appeal based on the available material having been found to be non-existent, the trial court was justified in coming to the conclusion that the appellant has deserted the respondent without any reasonable cause and was further justified in granting decree for dissolution of marriage between the parties. So far as irretrievable break down of marriage between the parties is concerned, the facts as noticed hereinbefore, are apparent wherein the parties are living separately for over 25 years now, after the decree for dissolution of marriage was granted by the trial court and the application for setting aside ex-parte decree was also rejected and before the notices of the present appeal were served on respondent, he had contracted marriage way-back in the year 1997 and therefore, the test laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in this regard as to whether the marriage can be saved in the circumstances, the answer to the said aspect would be a big ‘No’.

So far as grant of permanent alimony is concerned, in the submissions made before the Court, though no submissions were made by learned counsel for the appellant, learned counsel for the respondent offered to pay reasonable sum towards permanent alimony to the appellant and also prayed that the fact that a sum of Rs.12,00,000/- has already been paid under the interim directions of this Court, direction can be given. Looking to the over all circumstances of the case, though apparently, no material is available on record for determination of amount of permanent alimony, in view of the fact that the respondent was working as C.I. In the Police Department as noticed in the order-sheet dated 19.8.2015 (supra), in the opinion of this Court ends of justice would meet in case, the respondent is directed to make payment of a further sum of Rs.6,00,000/- by way of permanent alimony besides the sum of Rs.12,00,000/- already paid by the appellant under the directions of this Court dated 19.8.2015 (supra). The amount be paid within a period of three months from the date of this judgment.

In view of the above discussions, the appeal filed by the appellant has no substance, the same is, therefore, dismissed.

However, the respondent is directed to make further payment of a sum of Rs.6,00,000/- to the appellant by way of permanent alimony within a period of three months and the order dated 19.8.2015 (supra) passed by this Court directing payment of a sum of Rs.12,00,000/- by way of part payment of permanent alimony is made absolute.

No order as to costs.

(ARUN BHANSALI), J.

rm/-

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