New Delhi, Sep 27 (IANS): Modifying the trial court's order, the Delhi High Court has said that making friends at the workplace or otherwise, when both spouses have been living separately due to work exigencies, cannot be considered cruelty.
The court said that a person living alone may find solace in having friends, and merely talking to friends cannot be viewed as neglecting or being cruel to one's spouse.
The case in question involved a wife's appeal challenging a family court's decision to grant her husband a divorce on the grounds of desertion and cruelty.
The husband, an Army Officer, argued that due to his frequent postings, the wife had never shown an inclination to join him at his place of work.
The wife, on the other hand, contended that the husband had no intention of maintaining a matrimonial relationship with her.
Regarding the wife's claim that the husband was frequently on the phone with friends, both male and female, the court stated that it was natural for both parties to make friends given their separate living arrangements.
Such friendships, without further evidence, cannot be deemed cruelty, the court said.
The court modified the original order, setting aside the divorce on the grounds of desertion but upholding it on the grounds of cruelty by the wife.
In response to the wife's allegations that the husband consumed alcohol daily, the court stated that daily alcohol consumption did not necessarily indicate alcoholism or bad character, especially without additional incidents linked to alcohol consumption.
The wife also accused the husband of being in an illicit relationship with another woman. However, the court noted that she had stated during cross-examination that she was willing to live with him despite his alleged behaviour.
The court considered this an acquiescence to the husband's actions.
The bench further noted that the minor child has been alienated from the father and used as a weapon by the wife against him. This alienation, according to the court, constituted extreme mental cruelty towards the father, who had consistently provided for the child.