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Curable mental disorder -No ground for divorce = whether the marriage between the parties can be dissolved by granting a decree of divorce on the basis of one spouse’s mental illness which includes schizophrenia under Section 13 (1) (iii) of the Act. In the English case of Whysall v. Whysall[4], it was held that a spouse is ‘incurably of unsound mind’ if he or she is of such mental incapacity as to make normal married life impossible and there is no prospect of any improvement in mental health, which would make this possible in future. The High Court of Judicature at Calcutta, in Pramatha Kumar Maity v Ashima Maity[5] has held that mental disorder of the wife, even if proved, cannot, by itself, warrant a decree of divorce and it must be further proved that it is of such a nature as the husband could not be expected to live with the wife. The Allahabad High Court, in Mt. Tilti Vs. Alfred Rebert Jones[6] has held that where it has come on record that the wife has improved her educational qualifications and has been looking after her children, the apprehension of the husband that there is danger to his life or to his children is not borne out is the finding recorded in the said case. Inability to manage his or her affairs is an essential attribute of an “incurably unsound mind”. The facts pleaded and the evidence placed on record produced by the appellant in this case does not establish such inability as a ground on which dissolution of marriage was sought for by him before the trial court.= It is thus clear that the respondent, even if she did suffer from schizophrenia, is in a much better health condition at present. Therefore, this Court cannot grant the dissolution of marriage on the basis of one spouse’s illness. The appellant has not proved the fact of mental disorder of the respondent with reference to the allegation made against her that she has been suffering from schizophrenia by producing positive and substantive evidence on record and on the other hand, it has been proved that the respondent is in much better health condition and does not show signs of schizophrenia as per the most recent medical report from NIMHANS, as deposed by PW-4 in his evidence before the trial court.- Under Hindu law, marriage is an institution, a meeting of two hearts and minds and is something that cannot be taken lightly. In the Vedic period, the sacredness of the marriage tie was repeatedly declared; the family ideal was decidedly high and it was often realised[7]. In Vedic Index I it is stated that “The high value placed on the marriage is shown by the long and striking hymn”. In Rig Veda, X, 85; “Be, thou, mother of heroic children, devoted to the Gods, Be, thou, Queen in thy father-in- law’s household. May all the Gods unite the hearts of us “two into one” as stated in Justice Ranganath Misra’s ‘Mayne’s Treatise on Hindu Law and Usage’[8]. Marriage is highly revered in India and we are a Nation that prides itself on the strong foundation of our marriages, come hell or high water, rain or sunshine. Life is made up of good times and bad, and the bad times can bring with it terrible illnesses and extreme hardships. The partners in a marriage must weather these storms and embrace the sunshine with equanimity. Any person may have bad health, this is not their fault and most times, it is not within their control, as in the present case, the respondent was unwell and was taking treatment for the same. The illness had its fair share of problems. Can this be a reason for the appellant to abandon her and seek dissolution of marriage after the child is born out of their union? Since the child is now a grown up girl, her welfare must be the prime consideration for both the parties. In view of the foregoing reasons, we are of the opinion that the two parties in this case must reconcile and if the appellant so feels that the respondent is still suffering, then she must be given the right treatment. The respondent must stick to her treatment plan and make the best attempts to get better. It is not in the best interest of either the respondent or her daughter who is said to be of adolescent age for grant of a decree of dissolution of marriage as prayed for by the appellant. Hence, the appeal is liable to be dismissed. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal and uphold the judgment of the High Court in not granting a decree of divorce and allowing the petition for restitution of conjugal rights. Therefore, we grant a decree for restitution of conjugal rights under Section 9 of the Act in favour of the respondent.

 published in  http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40785

 

REPORTABLE

 

English: The supreme court of india. Taken abo...

English: The supreme court of india. Taken about 170 m from the main building outside the perimeter wall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

 

CIVIL APPEAL NO.8264 OF 2013

 

(Arising out of SLP (C) No. 3544 of 2007)

 

 

 
KOLLAM CHANDRA SEKHAR … APPELLANT

 

Vs.

 

KOLLAM PADMA LATHA … RESPONDENT

 

 

 

J U D G M E N T

 

V. Gopala Gowda, J.

 

 

 

Leave granted.

 

2. This appeal is directed against the common judgment and order dated
28.09.2006 passed in CMA No. 2858 of 2002 and CMA No. 2859 of 2002 of the
High Court of Andhra Pradesh as it has set aside the judgment and decree of
divorce granted in favour of the appellant-husband dissolving the marriage
between the appellant and respondent by dismissing the Original Petition
No. 203 of 2000 filed by the appellant for dissolution of their marriage
under Section 13 (1)(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (in short ‘the
Act’) and allowing the Original Petition No. 1 of 1999 filed by the
respondent-wife against the appellant by granting restitution of conjugal
rights urging various facts and legal contentions.

 

3. The factual and rival legal contentions urged on behalf of the parties
are adverted to in this judgment with a view to examine the tenability of
the appellant’s submissions. The relevant facts are stated as hereunder:

 

The marriage between the appellant and the respondent was solemnized
on 31.05.1995 at Kakinada (Andhra Pradesh) as per Hindu rites and customs
and their marriage was consummated. It is the case of the appellant that
at the time of marriage, he was working as Senior Resident at the All India
Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi. After marriage, the respondent-
wife joined the appellant at New Delhi and secured employment in the said
Institute.

 

4. It is the case of both the parties that when they were living at New
Delhi, the brother of the appellant died in an accident. At that point of
time, the appellant herein came to Yanam (Andhra Pradesh) leaving the
respondent at Delhi, who gave birth to a female child on 07.07.1997.

 

It is contended by the learned senior counsel for the appellant,
Mr.Jaideep Gupta, in the pleadings that dispute arose between the appellant
and his parents on the one hand and the in-laws of the deceased brother of
the appellant on the other. There were threats to kill the appellant.
During that period, respondent’s father stayed in the company of the
appellant and his parents at Yanam. At that time, both the appellant and
the respondent suffered tensions and they were restless on account of the
situation created by the in-laws of the appellant’s deceased brother. Both
of them received medical treatment and due to depression, appellant
submitted his resignation and the respondent also resigned from her job at
AIIMS. The appellant then joined as Assistant Professor in Gandhi Hospital
at Secunderabad. The respondent and the child also joined him at Hyderabad.
It is their further case that while they were in Hyderabad, the appellant
used to receive threatening calls from the in-laws of his deceased brother
which used to create tension in their family. The respondent was treated
for hypothyroidism problem.

 

5. In the counter statement filed by the respondent, she contended that
after one year of their marriage, the appellant and his parents started
harassing her by demanding colour television, refrigerator etc. In May
1998, after the death of the father of the respondent, the appellant went
on insisting that the respondent gets the house situated at Rajahmundry
registered in his name and when she refused, he started to torture her.
The respondent applied for post-graduate entrance examination, which was
scheduled to be held on 13.08.1998, and the appellant was making
arrangements to go to Madras on 12.08.1998 in connection with FRCS
admission. On 11.08.1998, the appellant picked up a quarrel with the
respondent insisting that she must get the house at Rajahmundry registered
in his name to which she did not agree. The respondent also requested him
not to go to Madras as she has to appear for the Post-Graduate entrance
examination on 13.08.1998 for which the respondent alleged that the
appellant badly tortured her both physically and mentally. A telegram was
sent to her mother with false allegations of her mental illness with a view
to create evidence as he could have as well conveyed the message through
telephone as there was telephone facility at the house of her parents. As
the appellant was preparing to appear for FRCS examination and would spend
most of his time in the libraries and the respondent and their child would
be left alone without help, he suggested that the appellant should go to
Rajahmundry and stay with her parents to which she agreed and went to
Rajahmundry and joined Chaitanya Nursing Home and Bhavani Nursing Home to
work as a doctor. In the second week of November, 1998, the appellant came
to Rajahmundry and asked the respondent to go to Yanam and stay with his
parents saying that she can have the company of his parents and she can
carry on the medical profession along with his father who was also a doctor
to which she agreed. Thereafter, the appellant got issued a notice dated
25.11.1998 to the respondent making certain false allegations saying that
she was suffering from schizophrenia and she had suicidal tendencies etc.,
with the object of marrying again for fat dowry. The respondent has denied
that she suffered from schizophrenia or suicidal tendencies and further
stated that during her delivery days and subsequently on account of the
threats received from in-laws of the appellant’s deceased brother, there
was some depression for which the respondent was treated and the appellant
never allowed her to go through the prescriptions of her treatment at
anytime and she was also not allowed to see the medicines given to her as
part of treatment for her depression. It is stated by her that she
believes that as part of the ill motive of the appellant, he might have
administered some medicines to build up a false case against her with a
view to file petition for dissolution of marriage. The respondent got
issued a reply notice to the lawyer of the appellant mentioning the above
facts on 18.12.1998.

 

6. It is further contended by the learned senior counsel for the
respondent, Mr. Pallav Sisodia, that the appellant never cared for her and
encouraged his parents to dislodge her from the family house. She filed
O.S. No.53 of 1998 on the file of District Munsif’s Court, Yanam for
permanent injunction against the parents of the appellant and filed
Interlocutory Application No. 237 of 1998 for temporary injunction against
them not to evict her from the residential house where she was staying. It
is further stated that the appellant has no right to withdraw from her
society and demand for divorce and that she is entitled for restitution of
conjugal rights. It is contended by the respondent that the impugned
judgment is a well-considered judgment both on facts and in law and the
Division Bench of the High Court rightly allowed the appeals filed by the
respondent refusing to grant a decree of divorce in favour of the appellant
and granting a decree for restitution of conjugal rights in favour of the
respondent. Therefore, the respondent has prayed for dismissal of the
petition filed by the appellant praying for grant of decree of divorce
against her.

 

7. The appellant filed the counter statement to the petition for
restitution of conjugal rights denying the allegations made in the
petition. He contended that the behaviour of the respondent even when
they were staying at New Delhi was marked by emotional disturbances and
she also received treatment from a psychiatrist there. He has further
stated that he underwent severe mental stress due to irrational
behavioural pattern of the respondent. Her erratic behaviour started
increasing as time passed by. She started manifesting symptoms of
schizophrenia like violent or aggressive behaviour and a tendency to be
harsh and hostile towards other members of the family without any reason
whatsoever which were not visible earlier. For that reason, she was kept
with her parents’ family so that she can develop a sense of security
which is required for patients suffering from schizophrenia. He has
further stated that she also started developing the symptoms like sudden
withdrawal and being silent for long periods without any communication.

 

8. Further, he has stated that after the death of his brother, he brought
his wife and child to Hyderabad where he had secured a job as Assistant
Professor of Orthopaedics in Gandhi Medical College. He further contended
that on account of the death of his brother, tension developed in his
family and that neither he nor his family members harassed the respondent
demanding goods etc. He also stated that at the time of marriage, mental
status of the respondent was not known to him. Further, the respondent
tried to evict his parents from their house at Yanam and when she failed in
her attempt, she filed O.S. No. 53 of 1998 at District Munsif’s Court,
Yanam which shows her erratic attitude towards the parents of the
appellant.

 

9. The respondent fell seriously ill due to which the appellant sent her
mother a telegram to come and take care of her. She went to live with her
mother at Rajahmundry as she consulted some psychiatrists who advised her
to live with her mother. The appellant visited her after two weeks and
found that her mental condition had aggravated to such a point that it
would be impossible for him to live with her as her husband. He contended
that she was showing all the classical symptoms of schizophrenia including
violence, psychotic behaviour, suicidal tendencies, withdrawal symptoms and
abnormal and irrational behaviour including in the matter of her speech and
her conversation. She also used to say that she would like to commit
suicide and he was, thus, worried about her and the child. The respondent
was continuously on psychiatric treatment. The above facts were narrated
by the appellant in his divorce petition filed before the trial court. He
has further contended that under the circumstances narrated above, it was
impossible for him to resume cohabitation with the respondent as he was
afraid of danger to his life and that of his daughter and therefore, he
requested the Court for grant of a decree of divorce and that the
respondent’s petition for restitution of conjugal rights be dismissed as
she is not entitled to the relief prayed for by her.

 

10. The learned trial Judge in his judgment held that the appellant is
entitled to a decree of divorce if not annulment of marriage and that
since the disease of the respondent was not disclosed to the appellant
before marriage, she is not entitled to a decree of restitution of
conjugal rights. As a result, O.P. 1/99 filed by the respondent for
restitution of conjugal rights was dismissed and O.P.203/2000 filed by
the appellant for grant of divorce was allowed by dissolving the marriage
between the appellant and the respondent and decree of divorce was
granted.

 

11. The trial court relied on the certified copy of report from Institute
of Mental Health, Government Hospital for Mental Care, Sanjeeva Reddy
Nagar, Hyderabad, bearing No. A and D/402/99 submitted to the Registrar
(Judicial) High Court of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad, marked as Exh. B-10,
given as per procedure and by conducting chemical examination etc. It is
stated that the report clearly showed that the respondent is suffering from
schizophrenia. The trial court relied on the case of Tarlochan Singh Vs.
Jit Kaur,[1] where it was held that since the fact of the wife being a
patient of schizophrenia was not disclosed to the husband before marriage,
it would amount to matrimonial fraud and therefore it was held the husband
was entitled to decree of divorce if not annulment of marriage.

 

12. Being aggrieved by the common judgment and decree of the trial court
passed in O.P. Nos. 1/99 and 203/2000 the respondent filed appeals before
the High Court of Andhra Pradesh questioning the correctness of the same
urging various grounds. The High Court on re-appreciation of pleadings and
evidence held that there is no positive evidence to show that the
respondent has suffered schizophrenia and even in the case that she
suffered from schizophrenia, it cannot be said that she was suffering from
such a serious form of the disease that it would attract the requirements
of Section 13 (1) (iii) of the Act for grant of decree for dissolution of
marriage between the parties.

 

13. On perusal of the facts and legal evidence on record and hearing rival
legal contentions urged by both the parties, the points that would arise
for consideration of this Court are:

 

1) Whether the respondent is suffering from a serious mental
disorder i.e. schizophrenia or incurable unsoundness of mind,
and can this be considered as a ground for divorce under Section
13 (1) (iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955?

 

2) Whether the High Court has correctly re-appreciated the facts
pleaded and evidence on record while dismissing the divorce
petition of the appellant and allowing the petition for
restitution of conjugal rights of the respondent?

 

3) Whether the appeal filed by the appellant has to be allowed and
we must restore the judgment and decree of trial court and
dismiss the petition for conjugal rights filed by the
respondent?

 

4) What order?

 

14. Answer to point nos.1 to 3:

 

These points are answered together as they are interrelated. On careful
scrutiny of the pleadings and evidence on record and the decision of this
Court referred to above, the provision of Section 13(1) (iii) of the Act is
interpreted and the meanings of ‘unsound mind’ and ‘mental disorder’ as
occurring in the above provisions of the Act are examined and referred to
in the impugned judgment. The High Court, while examining the correctness
of the findings recorded in the common judgment of the trial court, has
placed reliance on Ram Narain Gupta vs. Rameshwari Gupta[2], wherein this
Court has interpreted the provision of Section 13(1)(iii) of the Act and
laid down the law regarding mental disorder or unsound mind as a ground
available to a party to get dissolution of the marriage. The relevant
portions with regard to ‘unsoundness of mind’ and ‘mental disorder’ from
the case referred to supra are extracted hereunder:

 

“20.The context in which the ideas of unsoundness of “mind” and
“mental disorder” occur in the Section as grounds for dissolution of a
marriage, require the assessment of the degree of the “mental
disorder”. Its degree must be such that the spouse seeking relief
cannot reasonably be expected to live with the other. All mental
abnormalities are not recognised as grounds for grant of decree. If
the mere existence of any degree of mental abnormality could justify
dissolution of a marriage few marriages would, indeed, survive in law.

 

 

 
21. The answer to the apparently simple — and perhaps misleading —
question as to “who is normal?” runs inevitably into philosophical
thickets of the concept of mental normalcy and as involved therein, of
the ‘mind’ itself. These concepts of “mind”, “mental phenomena” etc.,
are more known than understood and the theories of “mind” and
“mentation” do not indicate any internal consistency, let alone
validity, of their basic ideas. Theories of “mind” with cognate ideas
of “perception” and “consciousness” encompass a wide range of
thoughts, more ontolopical than enistemological. Theories of mental
phenomena are diverse and include the dualist concept — shared by
Descartes and Sigmund Freud — of the separateness of the existence of
the physical or the material world as distinguished from the non-
material mental world with its existence only spatially and not
temporally. There is, again, the theory which stresses the
neurological basis of the “mental phenomenon” by asserting the
functional correlation of the neuronal arrangements of the brain with
mental phenomena. The “behaviourist” tradition, on the other hand,
interprets all reference to mind as “constructs” out of behaviour.
“Functionalism”, however, seems to assert that mind is the logical or
functional state of physical systems. But all theories seem to
recognise, in varying degrees, that the psychometric control over the
mind operates at a level not yet fully taught to science. When a
person is oppressed by intense and seemingly insoluble moral dilemmas,
or when grief of loss of dear ones etch away all the bright colours of
life, or where a broken marriage brings with it the loss of emotional
security, what standards of normalcy of behaviour could be formulated
and applied? The arcane infallibility of science has not fully
pervaded the study of the non-material dimensions of “being”.

 
22. Speaking of the indisposition of science towards this study, a
learned Author says:
“…we have inherited cultural resistance to treating the conscious
mind as a biological phenomenon like any other. This goes back to
Descartes in the seventeenth century. Descartes divided the world into
two kinds of substances: mental substances and physical substances.
Physical substances were the proper domain of science and mental
substances were the property of religion. Something of an acceptance
of this division exists even to the present day. So, for example,
consciousness and subjectivity are often regarded as unsuitable topics
for science. And this reluctance to deal with consciousness and
subjectivity is part of a persistent objectifying tendency. People
think science must be about objectively observable phenomena. On
occasions when I have lectured to audiences of biologists and
neurophysiologists, I have found many of them very reluctant to treat
the mind in general and consciousness in particular as a proper domain
of scientific investigation.
…the use of the noun “mind” is dangerously inhabited by the ghosts
of old philosophical theories. It is very difficult to resist the idea
that the mind is a kind of a thing, or at least an arena, or at least
some kind of black box in which all of these mental processes occur.

 
23. Lord Wilberforce, referring to the psychological basis of
physical illness said that the area of ignorance of the body-mind
relation seems to expand with that of knowledge. In McLoughlin v. O’
Brian, the learned Lord said, though in a different context: (All ER
p. 301)

 
“Whatever is unknown about the mind-body relationship (and the area of
ignorance seems to expand with that of knowledge), it is now accepted
by medical science that recognisable and severe physical damage to the
human body and system may be caused by the impact, through the senses,
of external events on the mind. There may thus be produced what is as
identifiable an illness as any that may be caused by direct physical
impact. It is safe to say that this, in general terms, is understood
by the ordinary man or woman who is hypothesised by the courts…”

 
24. But the illnesses that are called “mental” are kept
distinguished from those that ail the “body” in a fundamental way. In
“Philosophy and Medicine”, Vol. 5 at page X the learned Editor refers
to what distinguishes the two qualitatively:
“Undoubtedly, mental illness is so disvalued because it strikes at the
very roots of our personhood. It visits us with uncontrollable fears,
obsessions, compulsions, and anxieties….
. . . This is captured in part by the language we use in describing
the mentally ill. One is an hysteric, is a neurotic, is an obsessive,
is a schizophrenic, is a manic-depressive. On the other hand, one has
heart disease, has cancer, has the flu, has malaria, has smallpox…”

 
The principle laid down by this Court in the aforesaid case with all fours
is applicable to the fact situation on hand wherein this Court has rightly
referred to Section 13 (1) (iii) of the Act and explanation to the said
clause and made certain pertinent observations regarding “unsound mind” or
“mental disorder” and the application of the same as grounds for
dissolution of marriage. This Court cautioned that Section 13 (1) (iii) of
the Act does not make a mere existence of a mental disorder of any degree
sufficient in law to justify the dissolution of marriage. The High Court in
the present case stated that a husband cannot simply abandon his wife
because she is suffering from sickness and relied on the evidence of RW-2,
Dr. Krishna Murthy, Superintendent, Institute of Mental Health, Hyderabad,
wherein it is stated by him that schizophrenia can be put on par with
diseases like hypertension and diabetes on the question of treatability
meaning that constant medication is required in which event the disease
would be under control. The High Court also relied on the evidence of PW-4,
Dr. Ravi S. Pandey, Professor and Head of Department of Psychiatry at
NIMHANS, Bangalore, who had examined the respondent and stated that the
team could not find any evidence suggesting that she has been suffering
from schizophrenia at the time of examining her and also stated in his
cross-examination that no treatment including drugs were given to her at
NIMHANS as they did not find any abnormality in her behaviour. He also
stated that it is true that psychiatrically there is no contra-indication
in leading a normal conjugal life. Thus, they gave her a certificate,
which is marked as Exh. B-11, based on clinical examination and in the
absence of any abnormal behaviour including psychiatric features in the
past history of respondent. The High Court has not accepted the finding of
fact recorded by the trial court on the contentious issue and further
stated that “schizophrenia” does not appear to be such a dangerous disease
and it can be controlled by drugs and in the present case, this finding is
supported by evidence of RW-2, who has stated in his examination-in-chief
that the appellant herein has not made any reference to any of the acts of
the respondent that can constitute “schizophrenia” ailment. It is further
held by the High Court that there is no positive evidence to show that the
respondent has suffered from schizophrenia and even in the case she has
suffered from some form of schizophrenia, it cannot be said that she was
suffering from such a serious form of the disease that would attract the
requirement as provided under Section 13 (1) (iii) of the Act and that it
is of such a nature that it would make life of the appellant so miserable
that he cannot lead a marital life with her.

 

15. We are of the opinion that the High Court has rightly examined the
entire evidence on record and correctly found fault with the findings of
fact recorded by the trial court with regard to the ailment attributed to
the respondent for seeking dissolution of marriage under the ground of
‘unsound mind’ which is a non-existent fact. In the case of Vinita Saxena
v. Pankaj Pandit[3], this Court has examined in detail the issue of
schizophrenia wherein the facts are different and the facts and evidence on
record are not similar to the case on hand. Therefore, the observations
made in the judgment for grant of decree for dissolution of marriage under
Section 13 (1) (ia) and Section 13(1) (iii) of the Act cannot be applied to
the fact situation of the case on hand. But, we would like to examine what
was said in that case on the issue of this disease, schizophrenia -:

 

“What is the disease and what one should know?

 
*A psychotic lacks insight, has the whole of his personality distorted
by illness, and constructs a false environment out of his subjective
experiences.
*It is customary to define ‘delusion’ more or less in the following
way. A delusion is a false unshakeable belief, which is out of keeping
with the patient’s social and cultural background. German
psychiatrists tend to stress the morbid origin of the delusion, and
quite rightly so. A delusion is the product of internal morbid
processes and this is what makes it unamenable to external influences.
*Apophanous experiences which occur in acute schizophrenia and form
the basis of delusions of persecution, but these delusions are also
the result of auditory hallucinations, bodily hallucinations and
experiences of passivity. Delusions of persecution can take many
forms. In delusions of reference, the patient feels that people are
talking about him, slandering him or spying on him. It may be
difficult to be certain if the patient has delusions of self-reference
or if he has self-reference hallucinosis. Ideas of delusions or
reference are not confined to schizophrenia, but can occur in
depressive illness and psychogenic reactions.
Causes
The causes of schizophrenia are still under debate. A chemical
imbalance in the brain seems to play a role, but the reason for the
imbalance remains unclear. One is a bit more likely to become
schizophrenic if he has a family member with the illness. Stress does
not cause schizophrenia, but can make the symptoms worse.
Risks
Without medication and therapy, most paranoid schizophrenics are
unable to function in the real world. If they fall victim to severe
hallucinations and delusions, they can be a danger to themselves and
those around them.

 
What is schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a chronic, disabling mental illness characterised by:
*Psychotic symptoms
*Disordered thinking
*Emotional blunting

 
How does schizophrenia develop?
Schizophrenia generally develops in late adolescence or early
adulthood, most often:
*In the late teens or early twenties in men
*In the twenties to early thirties in women

 
What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?
Although schizophrenia is chronic, symptoms may improve at times
(periods of remission) and worsen at other times (acute episodes, or
period of relapse).
Initial symptoms appear gradually and can include:
*Feeling tense
*Difficulty in concentrating
*Difficulty in sleeping
*Social withdrawal

 

What are psychotic symptoms?
*Psychotic symptoms include:
*Hallucinations: hearing voices or seeing things.
*Delusions: bizarre beliefs with no basis in reality (for example
delusions of persecution or delusions of grandeur).

 

These symptoms occur during acute or psychotic phases of the illness, but
may improve during periods of remission.

 

A patient may experience:
*A single psychotic episode during the course of the illness
*Multiple psychotic episodes over a lifetime…”

 

 

 
16. As per evidence of RW-2, schizophrenia is a treatable, manageable
disease, which can be put on par with hypertension and diabetes. So also,
PW-4, who had examined the respondent at NIMHANS, Bangalore stated that the
team could not find any evidence suggesting schizophrenia at the time of
their examining the respondent and he had stated in his cross-examination
that no treatment including drugs was given to her at NIMHANS as they did
not find any abnormality in her. They thus gave her a certificate of normal
mental status, based on the absence of any abnormal findings in her medical
report including psychiatric features in the past history and normal
psychological test. We have carefully perused the Report marked as Exh. B-
10 dated 24.4.1999 given by the Doctors of Institute of Mental Health,
Hyderabad before the trial court. The learned trial Judge has misread the
contents of the said report and also wrongly interpreted the same and
recorded the finding that the respondent is suffering from the ailment of
‘schizophrenia’ and therefore he has accepted the case of the appellant who
has made out a ground under Section 13(1) (iii) of the Act wherein it is
stated that a spouse suffering from schizophrenia or incurably unsound mind
is a ground for dissolution of the marriage between the parties.

 

17. The High Court has thus rightly set aside the decree of dissolution of
marriage granted in favour of the appellant and dismissed his petition and
granted a decree of restitution of conjugal rights in favour of the
respondent by allowing her petition. The High Court has recorded the
finding of fact on re-appreciation of material evidence on record and has
rightly held that the trial court has erroneously come to the conclusion
that the respondent was suffering from schizophrenia by relying on the
evidence of PW-1, who is the appellant herein and as per the opinion given
by the Committee of Doctors in Ex.B-10. In the deposition by witness RW-2,
Dr. K.Krishna Murthy, he has stated in his examination-in-chief that
Schizophrenia has become eminently treatable with the advent of many new
psychiatric drugs. He further stated that many patients with schizophrenia
are able to lead a near normal life with medication. The trial court has
erroneously relied on certain cases referred to and applied the principle
laid down in those cases to the facts of this case even though they are not
applicable to the case on hand either on facts or in law as the appellant
has not proved the allegations made in the petition against the respondent
by adducing positive and substantive evidence on record to substantiate the
same and that the alleged ailment of the respondent would fall within the
provision of Section 13(1)(iii) of the Act. Therefore, he has not made out
a case for grant of decree for dissolution of marriage. We have carefully
examined Ex. Nos. X-6 to X-11, which are the prescriptions of medicine
prescribed to her by Dr. Mallikarjuna Rao, Dr. Pramod Kumar and Dr.M.Kumari
Devi. The above prescriptions mention the symptoms of the ailment of the
respondent, which were in the nature of delusions, suspicious apprehensions
and fears, altered behaviours, suicidal tendency and past history of
depression. Reliance is placed by PW 1 on the above documentary evidence to
prove that the respondent was suffering from the mental disorder of
schizophrenia and therefore it squarely falls within the provision of
Section 13(1)(iii) of the Act for grant of decree of dissolution of
marriage in his favour. The High Court has rightly held that the trial
court has erroneously accepted the same and recorded its finding of fact on
the contentious issues to pass decree of divorce in favour of the
appellant, which is contrary to the decision of this Court in the case of
Ram Narain Gupta vs. Rameshwari Gupta supra. The same decision has been
relied upon by the respondent before the High Court, wherein the said
decision was correctly accepted by it to set aside the erroneous finding of
fact recorded by the trial court on the contentious issue.

 

18. The legal question that arises for our consideration is whether the
marriage between the parties can be dissolved by granting a decree of
divorce on the basis of one spouse’s mental illness which includes
schizophrenia under Section 13 (1) (iii) of the Act. In the English case of
Whysall v. Whysall[4], it was held that a spouse is ‘incurably of unsound
mind’ if he or she is of such mental incapacity as to make normal married
life impossible and there is no prospect of any improvement in mental
health, which would make this possible in future. The High Court of
Judicature at Calcutta, in Pramatha Kumar Maity v Ashima Maity[5] has held
that mental disorder of the wife, even if proved, cannot, by itself,
warrant a decree of divorce and it must be further proved that it is of
such a nature as the husband could not be expected to live with the wife.
The Allahabad High Court, in Mt. Tilti Vs. Alfred Rebert Jones[6] has held
that where it has come on record that the wife has improved her educational
qualifications and has been looking after her children, the apprehension of
the husband that there is danger to his life or to his children is not
borne out is the finding recorded in the said case. Inability to manage
his or her affairs is an essential attribute of an “incurably unsound
mind”. The facts pleaded and the evidence placed on record produced by the
appellant in this case does not establish such inability as a ground on
which dissolution of marriage was sought for by him before the trial court.

 

19. The High Court has rightly set aside the said finding and allowed the
appeal of the respondent after careful scrutiny of Exh.B-10. The
correctness of the finding of the High Court in the impugned judgment is
seriously challenged by the learned senior counsel on behalf of the
appellant in this appeal. We have examined this contention, after careful
perusal of the contents of Exh.B-10. In our considered view, the contents
of the report as stated by the team of doctors do not support the case of
the appellant that the respondent is suffering from a serious case of
schizophrenia, in order to grant the decree of divorce under Section 13(1)
(iii) of the Act. The report states that the respondent, although suffering
from ‘illness of schizophrenic type’, does not show symptoms of psychotic
illness at present and has responded well to the treatment from the acute
phases and her symptoms are fairly under control with the medication which
had been administered to her. It was further stated that if there is good
compliance with treatment coupled with good social and family support, a
schizophrenic patient can continue their marital relationship. In view of
the aforesaid findings and reasons recorded, we have to hold that the
patient is not suffering from the symptoms of schizophrenia as detailed
above.

 

20. We are of the view that the High Court in exercise of its appellate
jurisdiction has rightly come to a different conclusion that the respondent
is not suffering from the ailment of schizophrenia or incurable unsoundness
of mind. Further, the High Court has rightly rejected the finding of the
trial court which is based on exh.B-10 and other documentary and oral
evidence by applying the ratio laid down by this Court in the case of Ram
Narain Gupta vs. Rameshwari Gupta referred to supra. A pertinent point to
be taken into consideration is that the respondent had not only completed
MBBS but also did a post graduate diploma in Medicine and was continuously
working as a Government Medical Officer and had she been suffering from any
serious kind of mental disorder, particularly, acute type of schizophrenia,
it would have been impossible for her to work in the said post. The
appellant-husband cannot simply abandon his wife because she is suffering
from sickness. Therefore, the High Court allowed both the CMAs and
dismissed O.P. No. 203/2000 filed by the appellant for divorce and allowed
O.P. No.1/99 filed by the respondent for restitution of conjugal rights
wherein the High Court granted decree of restitution of conjugal rights in
favour of the respondent.

 

21. It is thus clear that the respondent, even if she did suffer from
schizophrenia, is in a much better health condition at present. Therefore,
this Court cannot grant the dissolution of marriage on the basis of one
spouse’s illness. The appellant has not proved the fact of mental disorder
of the respondent with reference to the allegation made against her that
she has been suffering from schizophrenia by producing positive and
substantive evidence on record and on the other hand, it has been proved
that the respondent is in much better health condition and does not show
signs of schizophrenia as per the most recent medical report from NIMHANS,
as deposed by PW-4 in his evidence before the trial court.

 

22. For the aforesaid reasons, we are of the firm view that the findings
and reasons recorded in setting aside the judgment and decree of the trial
court is neither erroneous nor does it suffer from error in law which
warrants our interference and calls for setting aside the impugned judgment
and decree of the first appellate court. Therefore, this Court cannot
interfere with the impugned judgment of the High Court as the same is well-
reasoned and based on cogent reasoning of facts and evidence on record and
accordingly, we answer point no.4 in favour of the respondent.

 

23. Under Hindu law, marriage is an institution, a meeting of two hearts
and minds and is something that cannot be taken lightly. In the Vedic
period, the sacredness of the marriage tie was repeatedly declared; the
family ideal was decidedly high and it was often realised[7]. In Vedic
Index I it is stated that “The high value placed on the marriage is shown
by the long and striking hymn”. In Rig Veda, X, 85; “Be, thou, mother of
heroic children, devoted to the Gods, Be, thou, Queen in thy father-in-
law’s household. May all the Gods unite the hearts of us “two into one” as
stated in Justice Ranganath Misra’s ‘Mayne’s Treatise on Hindu Law and
Usage’[8]. Marriage is highly revered in India and we are a Nation that
prides itself on the strong foundation of our marriages, come hell or high
water, rain or sunshine. Life is made up of good times and bad, and the bad
times can bring with it terrible illnesses and extreme hardships. The
partners in a marriage must weather these storms and embrace the sunshine
with equanimity. Any person may have bad health, this is not their fault
and most times, it is not within their control, as in the present case,
the respondent was unwell and was taking treatment for the same. The
illness had its fair share of problems. Can this be a reason for the
appellant to abandon her and seek dissolution of marriage after the child
is born out of their union? Since the child is now a grown up girl, her
welfare must be the prime consideration for both the parties. In view of
the foregoing reasons, we are of the opinion that the two parties in this
case must reconcile and if the appellant so feels that the respondent is
still suffering, then she must be given the right treatment. The respondent
must stick to her treatment plan and make the best attempts to get better.
It is not in the best interest of either the respondent or her daughter who
is said to be of adolescent age for grant of a decree of dissolution of
marriage as prayed for by the appellant. Hence, the appeal is liable to be
dismissed.

 

 

 

24. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal and uphold the judgment of the High
Court in not granting a decree of divorce and allowing the petition for
restitution of conjugal rights. Therefore, we grant a decree for
restitution of conjugal rights under Section 9 of the Act in favour of the
respondent.

 

 

 

 

 

…………………………………………………………J. [G.S.
SINGHVI]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…………………………………………………………J. [V.
GOPALA GOWDA]

 

 

 

New Delhi, September 17,
2013

 

 

 

 

 

———————–
[1] AIR 1986 P & H 379

 

[2] (1988) 5 SCC 247

 

[3] (2006)3 SCC 778

 

[4] (1959) 3 All ER 389

 

[5] AIR 1991 Cal 123

 

[6] AIR 1934 All 273

 

[7] Vedic Index, I, 484,485; CHI,I,89 as in Ranganath Misra J. Revised.,
Mayne’s Treatise on Hindu Law and Usage, Fifteenth Edition, 2003, Bharat
Law House at p.97

 

[8] Fifteenth Edition, 2003, Bharat Law House at p.97

 

 

 

 

 

———————–
41

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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