Cruelty is one of the grounds for divorce as per the Hindu Marriage Act 1955. Section 13(1)(ia) of the Act states that any marriage solemnized, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, may, on a petition presented by either the husband or the wife, be dissolved by a decree of divorce on the ground that the other party has, without reasonable cause, treated the petitioner with cruelty.
Cruelty has been defined as any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the other party to commit suicide or to cause grave injury to the body or the mind of the other party. It can be physical or mental cruelty, or both.
In the case of Srinivas v. Srinivas (2010) 2 SCC 714, the Supreme Court held that cruelty is a ground for divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, it can be both physical and mental.
In the case of Kiran v. Rajesh (2013) 6 SCC 622, the Supreme Court held that mental cruelty can be established by proving a series of incidents. It is not necessary to prove that one single incident by itself should amount to cruelty.
In the case of V. Bhagat v. D. Bhagat (1994) 1 SCC 337, the Supreme Court held that if one party has treated the other with cruelty, it is no defense for the other party to prove that he or she also treated the other with cruelty.
It’s important to note that the act of cruelty must be proved by the petitioner and the court must be satisfied that the other party has indeed committed the act. In case of evidence provided is not sufficient, the court may dismiss the petition.
Also, The court may take a lenient view if the act of cruelty is condoned by the other party or if it was committed due to the conduct of the other party. In such cases, the court may dismiss the petition for divorce.
It’s worth noting that the concept of cruelty is different than that of the Adultery in marriage, and it is the burden of the petitioner to prove the act of cruelty rather than the burden of the respondent to prove the absence of it.