Consider 8-yr-old divorce afresh: HC to family court

Says the Australian wife’s side must be heard before verdict

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | Mumbai | Published:March 6, 2013 1:00 am

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 last month set aside the order stating that adequate opportunity should have been given to hear the wife while pronouncing the order of divorce.

The 42-year-old Marine Drive resident had sought divorce from his 53-year-old Australian wife under the Foreign Marriages Act,1969,on the grounds of desertion. He said that court summons were sent to wife through the Indian embassy in Australia and she had also engaged a lawyer who was informed about the proceedings.

“There is substance in the submissions of the respondent (husband) but at the same time it will have to be seen that the consequence of a decree of divorce are far-reaching,affecting the marital status of the parties. 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.

In March 1988,the man met the Australian when he went to study there. At the time,the woman was married to another man. But she was unhappy with her marriage and told the man that she wished to have a family with him. Eight months later,the couple got married after the woman got a divorce from her then husband.

However,soon after the marriage,the husband said he learnt that she had undergone hysterectomy. The couple decided to adopt a child and moved to Mumbai in December 1990. However,the husband claimed that in May 1991,his wife 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 and were returned to the Indian embassy. In August 2003,the wife’s advocate made a representation in the case. On October 21,2004,the wife reached India,she stated,and filed her say. On January 16,2005,she left for Australia.

However,she returned on March 14,2005,and personally filed three applications in the family court,she contended. But she was shocked to know that the order of divorce was already pronounced by the court. The court,however,felt that the wife’s arguments could not be sustained but she needs to be accorded an opportunity to be heard.

Case File

1988: The couple got married in Australia. They moved to Mumbai in December 1990.

May 1991: The husband claimed that his wife deserted him for over two years and went to Australia. He filed a plea for divorce.

August 2003: The wife’s advocate made a representation in the case.

October 2004: The wife reached India,she stated,and filed her version.

January 2005: Woman left for Australia.

March 2005: She returned and filed three applications in person in the family court,but was shocked to know that the order of divorce was already pronounced.

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