News Related to Divorce in India (October 2023)

News Related to Divorce in India - October 2023

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Top Stories Related to Divorce

October Edition

Key Points: Court’s Decision on Maintenance:

  • The Delhi High Court has pronounced that a wife cannot be granted interim maintenance under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 when both spouses have similar qualifications and possess equivalent earnings.
  • The court stressed the objective behind Section 24, which is to ascertain that neither party undergoes financial hardships that might obstruct them from wholeheartedly participating in a matrimonial case.

Essence of the Judgment:

  • The bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna noted: “The proceedings under Section 24 of the Act are not meant to level out the income of both parties or to accord an interim maintenance mirroring the lifestyle of the other spouse.”
  • This was expressed in the court’s judgment dated October 11.

Background of the Case:

  • The High Court’s decision was in response to two appeals put forth by a husband and his estranged wife. Initially, a family court instructed the husband to allocate ₹40,000 monthly for child maintenance, but turned down the wife’s plea for her maintenance.
  • The couple tied the knot in 2014 and became parents to a son in 2016, only to part ways in 2020.
  • While the husband asked for a reduction in the child’s maintenance amount, the wife sought a ₹2 lakh monthly allowance for herself. She also recommended that the child’s maintenance be augmented to ₹60,000 monthly.

Parties’ Earnings:

  • The court noted that both the wife and husband are highly qualified. The wife’s monthly remuneration stands at ₹2.5 lakhs, whereas the husband, earning in dollars, receives an amount equivalent to the wife’s salary when converted to rupees.
  • The husband highlighted that his expenditures are also in dollars, leaving him with minimal savings after incurring a monthly expense of around USD 7000. The court found this claim substantiated by relevant documentation.

Final Verdict:

  • After evaluating the incomes of both spouses and acknowledging their shared duty towards the child, the court decreed that the husband’s interim maintenance contribution for the child should be reduced to ₹25,000 each month.
  • Both appeals were subsequently resolved by the court.

Legal Representation: The wife was represented by Advocates Anuj Arora and Pardeep Sharma. On the other hand, Advocate Somvir Singh Deshwa defended the husband.

This verdict from the Delhi High Court sheds light on the intricacies surrounding financial obligations in matrimonial disputes and underscores the significance of equal earning capacities.

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Key Points:

  • Timeline and Background:
    • Married in March 1963, the couple has two daughters and a son.
    • The husband filed for divorce 27 years ago, making it one of the longest divorce battles in the country.
    • Disputes began in January 1984, following the officer’s transfer from Amritsar to Madras.
  • Reasons for Separation:
    • The wife, a teacher, chose not to move with her husband and instead stayed with her in-laws and later with her son.
    • The husband claimed grounds of cruelty and desertion for seeking divorce.
    • He cited incidents where his wife did not visit him during his hospitalization and alleged that she tried to tarnish his image by complaining to his superiors.
  • Legal Proceedings:
    • The husband highlighted that they have been living separately since March 1997.
    • He urged the Court to grant divorce under Article 142, pointing towards an irretrievable breakdown of their marriage.
    • The wife countered by expressing her commitment to the sanctity of the marriage and her unwillingness to bear the “stigma” of a divorcee.
    • Chandigarh District Court initially granted the divorce in February 2000, but this was overturned by Punjab and Haryana High Court in December 2000. This decision was upheld by a division bench of the High Court in February 2009.
  • Supreme Court’s Judgment:
    • The apex court agreed with the High Court on the absence of proven cruelty and desertion.
    • While the Court recognized the long separation, it posed a question on whether the irretrievable breakdown should automatically lead to divorce under Article 142.
    • A recent ruling in Shilpa Shailesh vs. Varun Sreenivasan allowed the use of Article 142 to grant divorce on similar grounds.
    • Emphasizing the importance of the institution of marriage in Indian society, the Court questioned the application of the ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage’ as a sole basis for divorce.
    • Given the advanced ages of both parties (89 for the husband and 82 for the wife) and the wife’s commitment to their marital bond, the Court upheld the sanctity of the marriage.
  • Final Decision:
    • The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, highlighting that while societal views on divorce might have evolved, the wife’s sentiments should be respected.
    • The Court concluded that granting a divorce in this case would not do “complete justice” and could even be considered an injustice to the respondent (wife).

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Key Points:

  • Divorce Proceedings:

    • Indian cricketer Shikhar Dhawan and his wife have been granted divorce by a family court in Delhi after 11 years of marriage.
    • The court cited cruelty as the grounds for divorce.
    • Despite the respondent (Dhawan’s estranged wife) not contesting the decision, the court took note of her previous favorable orders from the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Australia.
    • The court emphasized her intentional disregard for the court’s orders dated March 2, 2023, and June 6, 2023.
  • Marriage Details:

    • The marriage ceremony took place on November 30, 2012, at Gurudwara, Nelson Mandela Marg, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, following Sikh rites.
    • The official marriage date is recorded as December 30, 2012.
  • Custody Battle Over Minor Son:

    • Dhawan has requested permanent custody of their minor son, arguing that it would be detrimental for the child’s well-being to stay with the respondent.
    • He emphasized a pending criminal case against the respondent as a key factor favoring his custody claim.
    • However, the custody issue is complex due to prior rulings from an Australian court instructing Dhawan to drop his custody claims in India.
    • The court in Australia favored its jurisdiction based on the “doctrine of forum convenience”, noting the child’s Australian citizenship.
    • The Delhi court acknowledged the practical challenges of implementing custody decisions internationally.
    • Temporary measures include the child visiting India during school vacations for stays with Dhawan and unsupervised meetings in Australia.
  • Allegations Against Estranged Wife:

    • Dhawan claimed in his plea that his wife’s primary motive for marriage was to extort money from him.
    • Post-marriage, she allegedly threatened to defame him and jeopardize his cricketing career if her monetary demands weren’t met.
    • Dhawan alleges he was compelled to buy three properties in Australia, making his wife a significant or joint owner in them. She purportedly profited from the sale of these properties and demanded more ownership rights.

The case provides a significant glimpse into the personal challenges faced by the renowned cricketer and highlights the complexities of international custody battles.

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Key Points: Divorce Proceedings:

  • The Delhi High Court has granted divorce to a couple who had been living apart for over 10 years.
  • The primary reason for the divorce was the husband’s denial of his own child’s paternity, which the court deemed as an act of extreme cruelty.
  • The high court supported the family court’s decision to grant the man a divorce on the grounds of cruelty.
  • However, the court overturned the family court’s assertion that there was no desertion on the part of the wife and granted the man a divorce on these grounds as well.

Marriage Details:

  • The couple tied the knot in April 2012.
  • A child was born to the couple in November 2013.
  • However, differences arose immediately after their marriage, and by April 2013, the wife had left her matrimonial home.

Paternity and Allegations:

  • After leaving her matrimonial home in April 2013, the wife informed her husband of her pregnancy via a text message.
  • In response, the husband denied the paternity of the child.
  • The high court criticized the husband’s response, considering it as an indirect aspersion on the wife’s character.
  • The court emphasized that the parties, being well-educated and hailing from families of good social and professional standing, should have handled matters more maturely.

Criminal Cases & Litigations:

  • The wife filed several criminal cases against her husband and in-laws, including allegations of cruelty and dowry harassment.
  • The high court, however, found that she couldn’t substantiate any of her cruelty allegations against the husband or his family.
  • The wife’s swift resort to legal avenues was seen by the court as a reflection of her lack of interest in reconciliation.

Concluding Observations:

  • The high court noted the couple’s inability to live together for more than a year and their decade-long separation.
  • Emphasizing the foundation of trust, affection, and mutual understanding in a marriage, the court observed that the couple’s differences led to an inevitable separation.
  • The court also observed that long-term separation, coupled with a negligible chance of reconciliation, is a severe form of cruelty.

This case sheds light on the significance of trust and mutual respect in marriage and highlights the challenges and complexities faced by couples in the legal landscape.

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Key Points: Supreme Court’s Observations:

  • The Supreme Court highlighted that love marriages are the primary cause for a significant number of divorces in India.
  • The two-judge bench comprising Justices BR Gavai and Sanjay Karol came to this observation while hearing a transfer petition related to a matrimonial dispute.
  • Upon being informed that the case in question pertained to a love marriage, Justice Gavai commented on the notable trend of divorces stemming from love marriages.

Marriage Dissolution Grounds:

  • Earlier in the month, the Supreme Court clarified its stance on the dissolution of marriages.
  • The court stated its power to grant a divorce based on the “irretrievable breakdown” of a marriage. This can be applied even if just one party seeks it or both mutually agree to it.
  • The apex court emphasized the need for a comprehensive evaluation, ensuring that the marriage is “totally unworkable, emotionally dead, and beyond salvation.”

Criteria for Determining Marriage Breakdown:

  • The top court outlined several factors to determine the irreversible collapse of a marriage:
    • Duration the couple cohabited post-marriage and the last time they did so.
    • The nature of allegations between the parties and against family members.
    • Historical orders in legal proceedings.
    • Cumulative impact on personal relations.
    • Previous attempts to resolve disputes, including court interventions and mediations, and the timing of the last such attempt.

Significant Verdict:

  • The Supreme Court, in its verdict, emphasized its discretion under Article 142 (1) of the Constitution.
  • The court can dissolve a marriage on the grounds of an “irretrievable breakdown” and can approve a divorce by mutual consent without adhering to the 6-month waiting period as stipulated in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

The observations by the Supreme Court underscore the complexities of marital relationships and the evolving dynamics of love marriages in India.

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