False allegation of sexual incapacity of spouse amounts to mental torture, rules Kerala High Court

The Kerala High Court’s division bench of Justices A. Muhamed Mustaque and Kauser Edappagath has held that a false allegation of impotency or erectile dysfunction amounts to mental cruelty, hence, is a valid ground for dissolution of marriage.

According to the order, the appellant and the respondents – husband and wife – initiated legal proceedings against each other. The husband filed the case for dissolution of marriage and wife filed the case for restitution of conjugal rights in the trial court. After trial, a lower court, by the impugned common order, dismissed the original petition filed by the husband and allowed the original petition filed by the wife granting her a decree for restitution of conjugal rights.

The husband challenged the order sought for a decree of nullity on the ground that his consent to the marriage was obtained by fraud perpetrated by the respondent in suppressing material facts regarding her mental condition under Section 18 and the proviso to Section 19 of the Divorce Act, 1869 and prayed that the marriage is dissolved on the grounds of incurable unsound mind and cruelty on the part of the respondent under Section 10(1) (iii) and 10(1) (x) of the act.

N.K.Subramanian, counsel for the appellant, submitted that the wife was suffering from an incurable unsoundness of mind and mental disorder prior to marriage, and consent to marriage was obtained by suppressing the fact. It was also said that the wife made a false accusation against the husband about his sexual capacity, that he was suffering from erectile dysfunction and was incapable of performing sexual activities.

The counsel for the applicant relied on K. Srinivas Rao v. D. A. Deepa (AIR 2013 SC 2176), in which it was held that making unfounded indecent defamatory allegations against the spouse or his or her relatives in the pleadings amount to causing mental cruelty to the other spouse and Gangadharan v. T. K. Thankam (AIR 1988 Kerala 244), this Court held that false, scandalous, malicious, baseless and unproved allegation made by one spouse, whether by letters or written statement or by any other mode, amounts to cruelty.

The court opined that the wife making unnecessary accusations against the husband amounted to mental Cruelty as she miserably failed to substantiate the imputation made by her that the appellant was suffering from erectile dysfunction.The court also observed the Supreme Court of India in Samar Ghosh in which it has held that the insistence by one spouse to preserve the dead marriage could be treated as an act of cruelty: “Where there has been a long period of continuous separation, it may fairly be concluded that the matrimonial bond is beyond repair. The marriage becomes a fiction though supported by a legal tie. By refusing to sever that tie, the law in such cases does not serve the sanctity of marriage; on the contrary, it shows scant regard for the feelings and emotions of the parties. In such like situation, it may be true mental cruelty.”

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The court allowed the appeal by granting a decree for dissolution of marriage on the ground of cruelty under Section 10(1)(x) of the Act and rejecting the prayer for restitution of conjugal rights by the wife.

Source: ILNS
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