Monday, September 9, 2013
SC: "Alienation of Affection is a Tort like "Heart Balm" action"
While adjudicating **Pinakin Rawal v/s State of Gujarat CR.APPEAL NO.811/2004]****the Hon'ble Supreme Court has observed in its landmark judgment that : " Alienation of affection by a stranger, if proved, is an intentional tort i.e. interference in the marital relationship, with intent to alienate one spouse from the other. Alienation of affection is known as “Heart Balm” action. Anglo-Saxon common law on alienation of affection has not much roots in this country, the law is still in its nascent stage. Anglo Saxon based action against third parties involving tortuous interference with the marital relationship was mainly compensatory in nature which was earlier available to the husband, but, of late, a wife could also lay such a claim complaining of alienation of affection. The object is to preserve marital harmony by deterring wrongful interference, thereby to save the institution of marriage. Both the spouses have a valuable interest in the married relationship, including its intimacy, companionship, support, duties, affection, welfare of children etc. We notice, in this country, if the marital relationship is strained and if the wife lives separately due to valid reasons, the wife can lay a claim only for maintenance against the husband and if a third party is instrumental for disrupting her marriage, by alienating her spouse’s affection companionship, including marital obligations, seldom, we find the disgusted spouse proceeds against the intruder into her matrimonial home. Possibly, in a given case, she could question the extent, that such injuries can be adequately compensated, by a monetary award. Such an action, of course, may not protect a marriage, but it compensates those who have been harmed.We are, however, of the view that for a successful prosecution of such an action for alienation of affection, the loss of marital relationship, companionship, assistance, loss of consortium, etc. as such may not be sufficient, but there must be clear evidence to show active participation, initiation or encouragement on the part of a third party that he/she must have played a substantial part in inducing or causing one spouse’s loss of other spouse’s affection. Mere acts, association, liking as such do not become tortuous.
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