SC reverses Allahabad HC's ruling in divorce case

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New Delhi, May 4 (UNI) The Supreme Court has set aside a ruling of the Allahabad High Court which had reversed a trial court judgement granting divorce in favour of the man whose wife had deserted him as she was unwilling to live with her in-laws.

A bench comprising Justices C K Thakkar and B K Jain strongly disapproved of the judgement of the Allahabad High Court interfering with the trial court order without giving reason.

Appellant Jagdeep Singh had got married to Madhuri Devi on May 27, 1974 and a girl child was born to them in 1980.

Trouble began when wife allegedly pressurised her husband for living separately, but Singh refused to leave his parents and younger brothers and sisters.

Madhuri left her in-laws home in 1984 and never came back despite repeated efforts by the husband. She did not care about the child who was only four-year-old when she left. Nor, did she attend her wedding recently.

Family Court Allahabad granted a degree of divorce in favour of the husband and dissolved the marriage on September 13, 1999.

The High Court, however, reversed the order of the Family Court on September 29, 2004.

The apex court in its judgment disapproved the approach of the High Court and noted, ''It is clear that the order passed by the High Court is cryptic in nature. The Family court considered the evidence in detail. It also considered the circumstances while the case of the husband was relieved as there was desertion on the part of wife and that her conduct and behaviour towards her husband, his family members and the daughter was cruel.

It was a case of physical and mental cruelty.'' ''The High Court, on the other hand, did not consider the evidence at all. In fact, the HC was wrong in observing that there were no specific instances of cruelty or desertion.

It is no doubt to that the High Court was exercising power as first appellate court and hence it was open to the court to enter into not only questions of law but questions of fact as well,'' the apex court ruled.

''At the same time, however, the appellate court is expected nay bound, to bear in mind a finding recorded by the trial court on oral evidence. It should not forget that the trial court had an advantage and opportunity of seeing that demeanour of witnesses and hence the trial court 's conclusion should not normally be disturbed,'' the Supreme Court said.

The apex court, while setting aside the impugned order of the High Court, remanded back the matter to the High Court with a request to give priority to the case and decide it as expeditiously as possible.

The apex court also made it clear that it has not made any expressions on the merits of the case and the High Court will decide the case on its own merits without being influenced by any ''observation made by this court''.

UNI SC SV HS HT1532

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