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Suicide threats ground for divorce: SC

NEW DELHI: Repeated threats to commit suicide is a ground for divorce, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday and dissolved the marriage of a couple from Punjab after the husband proved that he was traumatised by his wife’s incessant suicide threats.

A bench of Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan said: “Giving repeated threats to commit suicide amounts to cruelty. When such a thing is repeated in the form of sign or gesture, no spouse can live peacefully.”

The court departed from judiciary’s traditionally lenient approach towards an estranged wife mainly because of the glaring facts of mental and physical hardship and humiliation faced by Pankaj Mahajan at the hands of his wife Dimple.

The trial court had granted divorce to Mahajan in April 2006, but the Punjab and Haryana High Court by its August 6, 2009 order set aside the divorce decree.

Appearing for the husband, senior advocate Nidesh Gupta placed material to prove before the apex court that Dimple used to give repeated threats to commit suicide. On one occasion, she also tried to commit suicide by jumping from the terrace.

Accepting his arguments, the bench said cruelty in marriage meant that the treatment meted out by one spouse made the other apprehend danger to his life and limb while living in a conjugal relationship.

“The acts of the respondent wife are of such quality or magnitude and consequence as to cause pain, agony and suffering to the appellant husband which amounted to cruelty in matrimonial law,” said Justice Sathasivam, writing the judgment for the bench.

Making out 12 grounds of cruel behaviour on the wife’s part, the bench said: “She caused grave mental cruelty to him and it is not possible for the parties to live with each other, therefore, a decree of divorce deserves to be granted in favour of the husband.”

The court directed the husband to pay Rs 2 lakhs to the wife and deposit Rs 3 lakhs in the name of the couple’s minor daughter, who is living with the mother.

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