MUMBAI: A Bandra resident who got her husband arrested in a false dowry harassment case treated him cruelly, an act that entitles him to divorce, the Bombay high court ruled. A division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Anuja Prabhudessai dismissed a plea filed by Ronita Mascarenhas challenging the divorce order that ended her two-decade marriage to William.
Ronita admitted that she had filed the false criminal case at Kherwadi police station in 2005, accusing William, who suffers from a physical disability, of stealing her gold ornaments and demanding Rs 1 lakh as dowry from her to buy a car, to force him to come back to Mumbai.
“If on the wife’s own showing the criminal complaint filed by her against her husband was false and was filed only to bring back her husband, and consequent to which he was arrested and was in jail for about seven days, it would constitute a clear case of cruelty by her,” said the judges, pointing out that William was eventually acquitted. Ronita lodging a false complaint against William, after which police arrested him from his parent’s house at Goa and he was incarcerated, was sufficient to grant a decree for dissolution of marriage to the husband on grounds of cruelty by the wife, added the judges.
The court disbelieved Ronita allegations that William was having extramarital affairs, or that she wanted to again live with him again. “We find her claim, despite serious allegations against her husband, including that of having extramarital affairs, that she wants her husband to come and stay with her is not bona fide… we are unable to brush aside the case of the husband that due to his wife’s behaviour and conduct, he was fed up with life and despite having a job with (a leading company), he decided to take voluntary retirement and settle in Goa with his parents,” the court said.
The court rejected Ronita’s plea for maintenance for herself and their two daughters. The judges said the daughters were 28 and 26 and were not entitled to maintenance. On Ronita’s claim for monthly maintenance, the HC said she was living in a Thane flat bought by William, while she had rented out their Bandra flat. She also had a row house that he had bought in Goa.
Ronita and William, who lived in the same building in Bandra, had fallen in love and married in 1987. Around 2005, their relationship soured and William went to live with his parents in Goa. Ronita filed a dowry harassment case against William and he sought divorce on grounds of cruelty. A family court in 2008 granted William divorce, which was challenged by Ronita in the HC.
(Names of the couple changed to protect their identities)