Divorce by Mutual Consent – Withdrawal of Suit

The person who institutes a suit, has every right to withdraw the same. Where the parties had filed a petition for divorce by mutual consent expressing their desire to dissolve their marriage due to temperamental incompatibility and the respondent (wife) withdrew her consent before the stage of second motion. The withdrawal of consent was after a period of eighteen months of filing the petition. The respondent (wife) further submitted that she was taken by surprise when she was asked by the appellant for divorce, and had given the initial consent under mental stress and duress. She also stated that she never wanted divorce and is willing to live with the appellant (husband) as his wife. Consent should always be a free consent.

       Even if withdrawal application is filed after 18 months, the court is not bound to grant divorce decree by mutual consent. The court has to proceed with about the genuineness of the averments in the petition and also to find out whether the consent was not obtained by force, fraud or undue influence and whether marriage can be saved. The court may make such inquiry as it thinks fit including the hearing or examination of the parties for the purpose of satisfying itself whether the averments in the petition are true. Rahul Kamal v. Sudha Pandey, 2018 (131) ALR 673.

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Disclosure Regarding Previous Marriage

      On a careful reading of Clause (c) ofSection 12(1) of the Hindu Marriage Act, it will appear that both the partiesin case of adult are obliged to divulge mutually and unequivocally the materialfact or circumstances to each other before or at least at the time of marriageso much so that element of deception is ruled out. The words material fact orcircumstances have not been defined or specified. It varies from one family toanother, according to culture, ethos and social system in ages and situation.For example in a conservative family having attachment with puritan society ina marriage inevitable and unerring expectation is that both the bride and groommust not have any record of prior marriage in any sense nor will have anymarriage in any sense, not even any premarital affairs with other boy or girl(as the case may be). They cannot think of even marrying outside their caste andcommunity, conversely, a family with liberal and cosmopolitan approach, thought,particularly in urban area will not mind in case of marriage even havingknowledge of background of prior marriage or premarital affair with other sexoutside their caste and community. In case of former, concealment of caste,community or background of prior marriage or premarital affairs before or atthe time of marriage is obviously extremely material and it amounts to fraud inobtaining consent.

       In the case of Saswati Chattopadhyaya v. Avik Chattopadhyaya, (2011) 3 ICC 51, the husband was not informed about the earlier marriage at the time of negotiation or at the time of solemnization of marriage. On inquiry, the husband came to know that there had been previous marriage of the appellant with one Sudip and it was also discovered that the earler marriage was dissolved by consent. When the matter reached the family court, it came to the conclusion that there has been suppression of the relevant fact with regard to the premarital status of the appellant and such relevant fact goes to the root of the matrimonial relationship. Pradeep Kumar Maheshwari v. Smt. Anita Agarwal, 2018 (131) ALR 566.

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Appointment of Arbitrator – Arbitrability of Dispute

In Booz Allen and Hamnilton Inc. v. S.B.I. Home Finance Ltd., (2011) 5 SCC 532, Hon’ble Supreme Court considered the arbitrability of dispute and scope of Section 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act and held as under:

       “The nature and scope of issues arising for consideration in an application under Section 11 of the act for appointment of arbitrators, are far narrower than those arising in an application under Section 8 of the Act, seeking reference of the parties to a suit to arbitration. While considering an application under Section 11 of the Act, the Chief Justice or his designate would not embark upon an examination of the issue of “arbitrability” or appropriateness of adjudication by a private forum, once he finds that there was an arbitration agreement between or among the parties, and would leave the issue of arbitrability for the decision of the Arbitral Tribunal. If the arbitrator wrongly holds that the dispute is arbitrabe, the aggrieved party will have to challenge the award by filing an application, under Section 34 of the Act, relying upon sub-section 2(b)(i) of that Section.”
       In Dura Felguera, S.A. v. Gangavaram Port Ltd., (2017) 9 SCC 729, Hon’ble Supreme Court considered the provisions of sub-section (6) and sub-section (6A) of Section 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and held as under:

       “From a reading of Section 11(6A), the intention of the legislature is quite clear, i.e. the court should and need only look into one aspect – the existence of an arbitration agreement. What are the factors for deciding as to whether there is an arbitration agreement is the next question. The resolution to that is simple – it needs to be seen if the agreement contains a clause which provides for arbitration pertaining to the disputes which have arisen between the parties to the agreement.” Swatantra Properties (P) Ltd. v. Airplaza Retail Holdings Pvt. Ltd., 2018 (5) AWC 5168.

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Time Barred Appeal – Delay of only 6 days

Initially, the appeal was presented in time and it was for the reason of removing the discrepancies that the period of additional 6 days went by. During this period of six days, the appellant has shown that he was running from pillar to post to remove the discrepancies and in the circumstances, the view taken by the Learned Real Estate Appellate Tribunal, Lucknow appears to be harsh. It can also be seen that it is settled principle of law that discretion should be exercised in favour of hearing rather than shutting it out when there was a delay of only five days in filing the appeal and the appellant was making the best efforts to remove the discrepancies as pointed out by the office of the Appellate Tribunal and immediately thereafter he with all promptitude took necessary steps to file the appeal without any inordinate delay. The circumstances should have been considered in its proper perspective by the Appellate Tribunal. M/s Capital Infra Projects Pvt. Ltd. v. Surinder Bhaiya, 2018 (131)ALR 182.

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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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Anti-Suit Injunctions

Anti-suit injunctions are meant to restrain a party to a suit/proceeding from instituting or prosecuting a case in another court, including a foreign court. Simply put, an anti-suit injunction is a judicial order restraining one party from prosecuting a case in another court outside its jurisdiction. The principles governing grant of injunction are common to that of granting anti-suit injunction. The cases of injunction are basically governed by the doctrine of equity.

      It is a well settled law that the courts in India have power to issue anti-suit injunction to a party over whom it has personal jurisdiction, in an appropriate case. However, before passing the order of anti-suit injunction, courts should be very cautious and careful, and it should be granted sparingly and not as a matter of routine as such orders involve a court impinging on the jurisdiction of another court, which is not entertained very easily specially when it restrains the parties from instituting or continuing a case in a Foreign Court.

      In Modi Entertainment Network v. W.S.G. Cricket P.T.E. Ltd., (2003) 4 SCC 341, it was held that the courts in India like courts in England are courts of law and equity. The principles governing the grant of anti-suit injunction being essentially an equitable relief; the courts in India have the powers to issue anti-suit injunction to a party over whom it has personal jurisdiction in an appropriate case; this is because the courts of equity exercise jurisdiction in personam; this power has to be exercised sparingly where such an injunction is sought and if not granted, it would amount to the defeat of ends of justice and injustice would be perpetuated.

      In Vivek Rai Gupta v. Niyati Gupta, Civil Appeal No. 1123 of 2006, decided on 10.02.2016, it was held as under:

      “If the execution proceedings are filed by the respondent-wife for executing the aforesaid decree dated 18.09.2012 passed by the Court of Common Pleas. Cuyahoga Country, Ohio, U.S.A. against any other movable/immovable property in India it would be open to the appellant-husband to resist the said execution petition on any grounds available to him in law taking the position that such a decree is not executable.”

      Further, in Harmeeta Singh v. Rajat Taneja, 2003 (67) DRJ 58, the Delhi High Court considering the fact that the parties have lived together for a very short time in the United States of America had granted anti-suit injunction.

      In Y. Narasimha Rao v. Y. Venkata Lakshmi, (1991) 3 SCC 451, it was laid down as under:

      “From the aforesaid discussion the following rule can be deuced for recognizing a foreign matrimonial judgment in the country. The jurisdiction assumed by the foreign court as well as the grounds on which the relief is granted must be in accordance with the matrimonial law under which the parties are married. The exceptions to this rule may be as follows: (i) where the matrimonial action is filed in the forum where the respondent is domiciled or habitually and permanently resides and the relief is granted on a ground available in the matrimonial law under which the parties are married; (ii) where the respondent voluntarily and effectively submits to the jurisdiction of the forum as discussed above and contests the claim which is based on a ground available under the matrimonial law under which the parties are married; (iii) where the respondent consents to the grant of the relief although the jurisdiction of the forum is not in accordance with the provisions of the matrimonial law of the parties.” Dinesh Singh Thakur v. Sonal Thakur, 2018 (5) AWC 4487.

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