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Bombay High Court rules that filing false reports to police against one’s husband and in-laws constitutes cruelty

The Bombay High Court clarified that while commencing proceedings under the Domestic Violence Act or for restitution of conjugal rights do not inherently constitute cruelty, lodging unfounded reports would amount to cruelty.

The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court recently stated that lodging false and groundless reports with the police against one’s spouse and their family members would be considered marital cruelty. Justice YG Khobragade clarified that initiating proceedings under the Domestic Violence Act or for the restitution of conjugal rights does not inherently amount to cruelty.

However, the Court emphasized that filing false reports against one’s husband and their family members would indeed constitute cruelty.

The Court ruled, “No doubt, initiating proceeding under DV Act and restitution of conjugal right do not by itself constitute cruelty, but lodging of various false, baseless reports with the police authorities against the petitioner, his father, brother, and brother-in-law and instituting civil proceeding showing herself as wife certainly falls within the ambit of cruelty.”

The Bombay High Court addressed an appeal filed by a woman contesting a decision that granted her husband a divorce.

In the challenged 2022 order, a district judge in Beed, Maharashtra upheld a divorce decree issued by a civil judge.

The husband had petitioned for divorce citing cruelty and desertion.

He asserted that in 2012, his wife left him, returned to her parents’ home, and initiated various legal actions against him and his family, causing them mental anguish.

This included filing false complaints against his father and brother, alleging molestation and threats to life.

Although the father and brother were later acquitted, they endured emotional distress and societal humiliation, he claimed.

The woman refuted the accusations and accused her husband of abandoning her. She also alleged mistreatment by her in-laws.

Despite her claims, the Bombay High Court remained unconvinced. It noted that both the civil judge and the district judge had previously determined that the woman had been cruel to her husband.

Consequently, the Bombay High Court affirmed that the divorce decree had been appropriately granted. “I am of the view that the evidence available on record is rightly appreciated by the appellate court (district judge) and there is no perversity or illegality in the same. I do not find that there is any substantial question of law involved in the present appeal,” the High Court observed while dismissing the woman’s appeal.

The woman was represented by Advocate BS Phad, while Advocate Prashant K Nikam represented the man.

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