Eight years after a family court granted divorce to a man who claimed that his Australian wife deserted him in 1991,the Bombay High Court has set aside the order and observed that adequate opportunity should have been given to hear the wife.
The 42-year-old Marine Drive resident had sought divorce from his 53-year-old wife under the Foreign Marriages Act,1969,on the grounds of desertion. He said court summons were sent to the wife through the Indian embassy in Australia and she had engaged a lawyer who was informed of the proceedings.
There is substance in the submissions of the respondent,but it will have to be seen that the consequences of a decree of divorce are far reaching. Adequate opportunity of hearing is required to be provided to parties, Justice Naresh Patil and Justice A R Joshi wrote in their order and asked the family court to decide the case afresh.
The couple met in March 1988 when the man was in Australia for studies. At that time,the woman was married but was not happy and told him that she wished to have a family with him. Eight months later,the couple got married after she divorced her husband.
Soon after the marriage,the man said,he learnt that she had already undergone hysterectomy and he felt cheated. The couple decided to adopt a child and moved to Mumbai in December 1990. However,the husband said in May 1991,she deserted him for over two years and went back to Australia.
After he filed a petition seeking divorce in the family court,the wife claimed that the court summons never reached her. In August 2003,the wifes advocate made a representation in the case. On October 21,2004,she reached India,she stated,and filed her say. On January 16,2005 she left for Australia.
However,she returned on March 14,2005 and filed three applications in the family court,she said. But she was shocked to know that the order of divorce was already pronounced by the court.
The court felt the wifes arguments could not be sustained but she needed to be given an opportunity to be heard.