The Cruelty Clause in The Indian Divorce Laws – Get Me a Divorce

Get Me a Divorce

The Cruelty Clause in The Indian Divorce Laws

The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 spells out the how’s and the why’s of dissolving marriages in India as related to Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists. Given this set of laws, there are two specific ways an individual can file for divorce; divorce by mutual consent and a divorce without consent. In the scenario, that either one or both of the involved parties are unwilling to consent to the proceedings, there are further seven distinct grounds upon which the aggrieved individual/s can approach the courts for divorce. These are Cruelty, Adultery, Desertion, Conversion, Mental Disorder, Presumption of Death or Renunciation of the World.

As per the legal definition cruelty refers to conduct by a spouse that causes grievous bodily harm or mental suffering. Outside those strict confines, it can be an ambiguous term. What constitutes cruelty? Is your spouse’s behaviour truly cruel or are there mitigating factors that can be attributed to their words and actions? Those are but two questions that are probably keeping you awake if you’re in a fragile situation. If you’re alleging cruelty in terms if physical abuse or bodily harm, that is often easier to prove, and a solid ground for divorce. The evidence is relatively easier to collect and can be documented in terms of photographs, police reports (FIRs in case the police had been involved at some point in the past) or even witnesses if it was carried out in front of other individuals. The courts are likely to be on your side, if your partner has displayed wilful and unjustifiable conduct that can prove to be a danger to life, limb and health.

Things to tend to a little muddled, if your partner hasn’t been physically abusive, but you’re alleging mental cruelty. As it stands today, the Act has a clear scope for providing grounds for divorce if the spouse indulges in behaviour that has a detrimental affect on the mental well being, making it impossible (or difficult) for the marriage to continue. A point to keep in mind when weighing your options is that even in this case the acts of cruelty leading to mental agony have to been proven, the intention of  one party to be cruel is insufficient ground. In the past the Indian courts have granted divorces on grounds of mental cruelty in various cases. Threats to commit suicide, false allegations of adultery, verbal abuse, repeated demands for dowry, persistent substance abuse have been enough for the courts to grant divorces, stating that these are situations in which given the treatment of the spouse, the couple can not reasonably be asked to continue their marriage.

Often it is difficult for victims to abuse to admit even to themselves that they have been victimised. At we understand, the very reason you’re here, reading this is due to the fact that you’re in a precarious situation. The journey can be long, but it doesn’t have to be lonely, our legal councillors are adept at dealing with such situations and they will help get you out. Mental health is important for ensuring that you are able to completely put this behind you and move on to the next chapter of your life. Cruelty (either mental or physical) is something at no human being, man or woman deserves and it is your right to get yourself out of harm’s way and on the path to peace.

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