BRIEF FACTS OF THE CASE
Suman Kapur, the appellant, is the wife of the respondent Sudhir Kapur. The appellant and the respondent were childhood friends who went to the same high school in 1966. Following that, they chose to marry, and it was an inter-caste marriage in Delhi; according to Hindu ceremonies and traditions, the marital partnership of the parties was formed on 04 March 1984. Although both partners’ parents first objected to the marriage, they subsequently agreed. The candidate has a high academic record and has obtained a prestigious Lalor Foundation Fellowship from the United States of America (USA) that young researchers can offer outstanding research outcomes. She said she worked in the Department of biochemistry at the (AIIMS) and at the time of her marriage, she had her Ph.D.
The appellant worked as a scientist at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences’ Department of Bio-Chemistry. In 1984, a month after marrying, she became pregnant. The fetus, however, was aborted without the husband’s consent due to the laboratory’s harmful radiation. Back in 1985, she became pregnant again but went for an abortion due to acute kidney infection and without substantial further consent. In 1989, she became pregnant again and aborted her womb without her husband’s consent.
Under Section 13(1)(a) and (ib) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the respondent-husband( Sudhir Kapur) filed a lawsuit in the Court of Additional District Judge, Delhi, seeking a divorce from the appellant-wife. The respondent-husband claimed (i) cruelty and (ii) desertion in the abovementioned petition. After hearing the parties, the trial court determined that the husband was not entitled to a divorce order based on the wife’s desertion but was granted a divorce based on the wife’s mental cruelty against the husband. The High Court once again praised the evidence presented and upheld the divorce decision issued by the lower court.
- Whether it amounts to mental cruelty to terminate a pregnancy without the husband’s consent and knowledge?
- Whether a husband allowed to divorce his wife for the reasons stated above?
Here, the appellant( Suman Kapur) claimed that when she became pregnant for the first time, she aborted the womb owing to the damaging radiation, she aborted the womb for the second time due to an acute kidney infection, and the womb was naturally miscarried when she became pregnant for the third time. As a result, there are valid reasons for abortion, and this case cannot be classified as mental cruelty.
According to the respondent, the appellant terminated the wombs without his authorization and consent. When she became pregnant for the third time, she terminated the pregnancy for no apparent reason and falsely stated that the fetus had died due to a normal miscarriage. The responder got depressed due to these incidents, and this case comes under the category of mental cruelty.
As a result of this, it was observed that aborting the womb without the other spouse’s agreement has been shown to make the other spouse depressed. Even if there is a good cause for the abortion, the other spouse’s agreement is required.
LAW INVOLVED IN THIS CASE
Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 was enacted to protect the rights of Hindu brides and grooms who were bonded by the holy bond of marriage in any ceremony.
After multiple incidents of both men and women being scared or humiliated due to a fraud case in the name of marriage, this statute was proposed. Any Hindu, Jain, Sikh, or Buddhist who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi, or Jew who is not controlled by another law is bound by this Act. This legislation binds any person who is Hindu by birth or by religion.
This regulation was created to avert the numerous problems that existed during British rule due to immature Hindu marriage law.
Divorce, as we all know, is the dissolution of a marriage between two people. Divorce rates have risen significantly in recent years, owing to a variety of factors. Section 13 The Hindu Marriage Act deals with divorce and grounds on which parties can file a divorce petition.
Section 13(1) Divorce: The criteria of divorce in Hindu marriages are addressed in Section 13 of this Act. Any marriage solemnized before or after the start of this Act can submit a divorce petition, which can be brought by either the husband or the wife, and that can be dissolved by a decree of divorce, according to Sec 13(1).
Section 13(1)(ia) Cruelty: Cruel treatment of the petitioner after the marriage has been solemnized is grounds for divorce. Cruelty can take many forms, including physical and emotional abuse. Physically abusing or injuring one’s spouse qualifies as physical cruelty. It is simple to spot physical brutality. It is hard to define what constitutes mental cruelty. For an extended period, one spouse’s tremendous grief, disappointment, and frustration caused by the actions of others may develop into mental cruelty. Cruelty is also a crime under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.
Section 13(1)(ib) Desertion: Desertion as a ground for divorce is addressed in Section 13(1) (ib) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, which states: “desertion” refers to the other party to the marriage abandoning the petitioner without reasonable cause and the agreement of or against the wishes of such party.
Article 136 of the Constitution
The Supreme Court’s special leave to appeal
(1) Notwithstanding anything in this Chapter, the Supreme Court may give special leave to appeal from any judgement, decree, determination, sentence, or order passed or made by any court or tribunal in India.
(2) No judgement, determination, sentence, or order passed or made by any court or tribunal constituted by or under any law relating to the Armed Forces shall be subject to clause (1).
The Hon’ble Supreme Court ruled that the other husband’s agreement was required, although the abortion was justified. When an abortion is performed without the other spouse’s consent, mental cruelty is grounds for divorce, according to Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act. The appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court and the High Court by Decree, and the additional District Court was confirmed.
The Supreme Court ruled that a woman’s aborting pregnancy without her better half’s knowledge and consent amounts to mental pitilessness and grounds for divorce in this case. “Mental remorselessness is a way of looking at things. For an extended period, a feeling of deep agony, discontent, and disappointment in one life partner caused by the conduct of the other may lead to mental violence.
“The lead must be much more than desire, narrow-mindedness, possessiveness, which caused anguish and disappointment, and passionate bombshell, but there is unlikely to be a reason for the award of separation based on mental pitilessness.”
It was held that “Physical violence is not required to cultivate lawful remorselessness. Legitimate remorselessness would result from a continuous cessation of marital relations or a total lack of care for the spouse’s conjugal duties. If the Act is demonstrated or admitted, the savagery will be heightened. If the demonstration grumbled might be interpreted as pitilessness in the conventional meaning of human difficulties, the lack of objective should not influence the circumstance. Mens rea is unquestionably not a necessary component of ruthlessness. The assistance to the gathering cannot be rejected because no conscious or willful sick treatment has occurred.”
“Simple briskness or the absence of affection cannot equal cold-bloodedness; nonetheless, impoliteness of language, peevishness of manner, lack of interest, and contempt may accumulate to the point where the wedded life for the other companion becomes utterly miserable,” said the court.
Sudhir Kapur’s claim that he was entitled to divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act because his wife had had three abortions without his permission was affirmed by the Supreme Court. According to the Supreme Court, a woman’s conduct of having an abortion to terminate a pregnancy without her husband’s agreement constitutes mental cruelty, and her husband is entitled to divorce on this basis.
According to the apex court, Suman’s activities constituted mental cruelty, which examined the records and cited several legal judgements. Mental cruelty is defined as the Act of terminating a pregnancy without the other spouse’s agreement, and according to section 13(1)(a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, mental cruelty constitutes grounds for divorce. The Supreme Court of India dismissed the appeal and upheld the High Court and Additional District Court’s decisions.
However, because Sudhir married another lady while the appeal was pending, the Apex court ordered him to pay Suman Rs. 5 lakhs in compensation.
Author’s Name: Tamarana Lavanya (Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University, Visakhapatnam)
 Hindu Marriage Act,1955
 Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, s. 13
 Hindu Marriage Act,1955, s. 13(1)
 Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, s.13(1)(ia)
 Indian Penal Code,1860,s. 498A
 Hindu Marriage Act,1955,s. 13(1)(ib)
 The Indian Constitution,1950, art.136