Tag Archives: matrimonial dispute

Second Marriage – When Permissible during Pendency of Appeal

Section 15 of the Hindu Marriage Act provides that it shall be lawful for either party to marry again after dissolution of a marriage, if there is no right of appeal against the decree. A second marriage by either party shall be lawful only after dismissal of an appeal against the decree of divorce, if filed. If there is no right of appeal the decree of divorce remains final and that either party to the marriage is free to marry again. In case an appeal is presented, any marriage before dismissal of the appeal shall not be lawful. The object of the provision is to provide protection to the person who has filed an appeal against the decree of dissolution of marriage and to ensure that the said appeal is not frustrated. The purpose of Section 15 of the Act is to avert complications that would arise due to a second marriage during the pendency of the appeal, in case the decree of dissolution of marriage is reversed. The protection that is afforded by Section 15 is primarily to a person who is contesting the decree of divorce.

       In case during the pendency of the appeal, there is a settlement between the husband and wife, and after entering into a settlement, he does not intend to contest the decree of divorce, his intention can be made clear by filing an application for withdrawal. In that case, he does not have to wait till a formal order is passed in the appeal or otherwise his marriage is unlawful. Following the principles of purposive construction, it was held that the restriction placed on a second marriage in Section 15 of the Hindu Marriage Act, till the dismissal of an appeal, would not apply to a case where parties have settled and decided not to pursue the appeal. Anurag Mittal v. Mrs. Shaily Mishra Mittal, 2019 (132) ALR 725.

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Long Separation – Relevant for Dissolution of Marriage

In Smt. Arti Pandey v. Vishnu Kant Tiwari, 2012 (95) ALR 494, it was held that when the wife had shown no inclination to continue with the matrimonial bond, long separation would be a relevant ground in considering a plea for dissolution of marriage. The court can also not be oblivious of the serious allegations leveled by the husband against the wife. Whether or not allegation of adultery is established on the basis of evidence, the fact remains that the respect for each other is seriously dented. There is a clear rupture of matrimonial bond between the parties, and it would be unjust to insist upon the parties to continue with marriage, in such circumstances. Mamta Singh v. Lakshman Singh¸2018 (131) ALR 137.

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Section 10 of the Indian Divorce Act

In the plaint for divorce being filed under Section 10 of the Indian Divorce Act, it has to be established that the desertion has been for more than two years on the date of presentation of application for divorce. It is an admitted position that marriage between the parties has not completed two years on the date plaint for divorce was filed and therefore the question of desertion being for a period of more than two years on the date the application was made, does not arise.

      Further from a reading of Section 10(1)(x) of the Indian Divorce Act, it will be seen that not only cruelty is to be established, it is further to be shown that because of such cruelty, a reasonable apprehension has arisen in the mind of one of the parties that it would be harmful or injurious to live with the other party. Leonard Dass v. Prema Catherine Dass, 2018 (131) ALR 133.

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Order for Maintenance – Cannot be Set Aside if the Wife refuses to stay with husband

In the case of Saranan Banerjee v. State of Jharkhand, 2007 (2) AIR 82 (Jhar), it was held that an order of maintenance would not be set aside merely on the ground that wife refused to live with the husband despite decree for conjugal rights where she alleges torture and ill-treatment. It was further held as under:

       “Finally it has been submitted that since the wife is not ready to live with her husband in spite of conciliation and efforts taken by the court and also in view of the decree of restitution of conjugal rights as claimed by the husband, the wife is not entitled to maintenance at all.

       The husband had obtained a decree under section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act for restitution of conjugal rights as against the wife and in spite of conciliation and efforts she was not inclined to live with her husband on the plea that a case for the offence under Section 498-A, IPC was pending against the husband on the allegation of torture, misbehavior, demand of dowry and many other allegations and for such reason she was apprehensive at the hands of her husband. The judgment and decree under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act for restitution of conjugal rights is a decree, which cannot be executed by force. Therefore the maintenance amount awarded to the wife and her daughter cannot be sweeped and set aside only on the ground that she was not inclined to abide by the decree of the restitution of conjugal rights passed against her. Vimal Kumar Verma v. Kavita Verma, 2018 (105) ACC 394.

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Permanent Alimony – After Passing of Divorce Decree

In the event permanent alimony has not been granted probably for the reason that no such application was moved and pressed for, the same can be applied even after passing of the decree. Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act itself envisages that the wife can initiate proceedings for grant of permanent alimony even after the decree of divorce. Therefore, the court does not become functus officio with the passing of the decree and continues to have jurisdiction to award alimony thereafter. Smt. Poonam Sharma v. Vishnu Kumar, 2018 (130) ALR 490.

 

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Custody of Child –Dispute in a Foreign Country

The state of law as approved in Nithya Anand Raghavan v. State¸(2017) 8 SCC 454 is that if a child is brought from a foreign country, being its native country to India, the Court in India may conduct (a) summary enquiry, or (b) an elaborate enquiry on the question of custody, if called for. In the case of a summary enquiry, the court may deem fit to order the return of the child to the country from where he/she has been removed unless such return is shown to be harmful to the child. Aximoatically thus, even in case of a summary enquiry, it is open to the court to decline the relief of return of the child to the country from where he/she has been removed irrespective of a pre-existing order of return of a child by a foreign court, in case it transpires that its repatriation would be harmful to it. On the other hand, in case of an elaborate enquiry, the court is obligated to examine the merits as to where the paramount interest and welfare of the child lay and take note of the pre-existing order of the foreign court for the return of the child as only one of the circumstances. As a corollary, in both the eventualities whether the enquiry is summary or elaborate, the court would be guided by the pre-dominant consideration of welfare of the child assuredly on an overall consideration on all attendant facts and circumstances.

In Surya Vadanan v. State of T.N., (2015) 5 SCC 450, two minor girls aged 10 years and 6 years respectively were British citizens by birth. Following intense matrimonial discords, the mother had left UK and had come to India with her two daughters. She also instituted a proceeding in the family court at Coimbatore seeking dissolution of marriage. It was held as under:

“However, if there is a pre-existing order of a foreign court of competent jurisdiction and the domestic court decides to conduct an elaborate enquiry, it must have special reasons to do so. An elaborate enquiry (as against a summary enquiry), it must have special reasons to do so. An elaborate enquiry should not be ordered as a matter of course. While deciding whether a summary or an elaborate enquiry should be conducted, the domestic court must take into consideration:

  • The nature and effect of the interim or interlocutory order passed by the foreign court.
  • The existence of special reasons for repatriating or not repatriating the child to the jurisdiction of the foreign court.
  • The repatriation of the child does not cause any moral or physical or social or cultural or psychological harm to the child, nor should it cause any legal harm to the parent with whom the child is in India. There are instances where the order of the foreign court may result in the arrest of the parent on his or her return to the foreign country. In such cases, the domestic court is also obliged to ensure the physical safety of the parent.
  • The alacrity with which the parent moves the foreign court concerned or the domestic court concerned, is also relevant. If the time gap is unusually large and is not reasonably explainable and the child has developed firm roots in India, the domestic court may be well advised to conduct an elaborate enquiry.”

Vis-à-vis the renditions in V. Ravi Chandran v. Union of India, (2010) 1 SCC 174, Shilpa Aggarwal v. Aviral Mittal, (2010) 1 SCC 591 and Arathi Bandi v. Bandi Jagadrakshaka Rao, (2013) 15 SCC 790, the Hon’ble Apex Court in Nithya Anand Raghavan v. State, (2017) 8 SCC 454, distinguished the facts involved therein from the one under its scrutiny. While underlining that the considerations which impelled the court to adopt its summary approach/jurisdiction in directing the return of the child to its native country, did not in any way discount or undermine the predominant criterion of welfare and interest of the child even to outweigh neuter or offset the principle of comity of courts, if disapproved the primacy sought to be accorded to the order of the foreign court on this issue of custody of minor in Surya Vadanan v. State of T.N., (2015) 5 SCC 450 though negated earlier in Dhanwanti Joshi v. Madhav Unde, (1998) 1 SCC 112 and reiterated that whether it was a case of summary enquiry or an elaborate enquiry, the paramount consideration was the interest and welfare of the child so much so that the pre-existing order of a foreign court could be taken note of only as one of the factors. The alacrity or the expedition with which the applicant/parent moves the foreign court or the domestic court concerned, for custody as a relevant factor was also not accepted to be of any definitive bearing. This notion of “first strike principle” was not subscribed to and further the extrapolation of that principle to the courts in India as predicated in Surya Vadanan v. State of T.N., (2015) 5 SCC 450 was also held to be in-apposite by adverting inter alia to Section 14 of the Guardian and Wards Act, 1890 and Section 10 of Civil Procedure Code.

In Nithya Anand Raghavan v. State, (2017) 8 SCC 454, while maintaining the custody of the child in favour of the mother in preference to the applicant father had required the mother to participate in the proceeding before the foreign court initiated by the respondent father therein. It was observed that the custody would remain with the respondent mother till it attained majority, leaving it at liberty then to choose its parent to reside with. Prateek Gupta v. Shilpi Gupta, (2018) 2 SCC 309.

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Accusations and Character Assassination – Constitute Mental Cruelty

By a catena of decisions of the Hon’ble Apex Court, it is settled that making unfounded indecent defamatory allegations against the spouse or his or her relatives in the pleadings, filing of complaints or issuing notices or news items which may have adverse impact on the business prospect or the job of the spouse and filing repeated false complaints and cases in Court against the spouse would, in the facts of the case, amount to causing mental cruelty to the other spouse.
In Vijaykumar Ramchandra Bhate v. Neela Vijaykumar Bhate, (2003) 6 SCC 334, the Hon’ble Apex Court considered the question, whether the averments, accusations and character assassination in the written statement constitutes mental cruelty for sustaining the claim for divorce under Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and held as under:
“The position of law in this regard has come to be well settled and declared that leveling disgusting accusations of unchastity and indecent familiarity with a person outside wedlock and accusations of extra marital relationship is a grave assault on the character, honour, reputation, status as well as the health of the wife. Such aspersions of perfidiousness attributed to the wife, viewed in the context of an educated Indian wife and judged by Indian conditions and standards would amount to worst form of insult and cruelty, sufficient by itself to substantiate cruelty in law, warranting the claim of the wife being allowed. That such allegations made in the written statement or suggested in the course of examination satisfy the requirement of law has also come to be firmly laid down by the Court.” Smt. Jayanti v. Dr. Om Prakash Pandey, 2017 (124) ALR 117.

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