HC declares void divorce given to Indian couple by US court, orders husband to pay wife Rs 25L

The Madras High Court has ordered a compensation of Rs 25 lakh to the wife who fled the US due to alleged torture by her husband

Published: 22nd March 2023 06:28 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd March 2023 06:30 PM   |  A+A-

Madras High Court (File photo)

Madras High Court (File photo)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Declaring that a divorce granted by a US court to an Indian couple was void as the foreign court lacked jurisdiction since the marriage took place in India, the Madras High Court has ordered a compensation of Rs 25 lakh to the wife who fled the US due to alleged torture by her husband, employed with the World Bank.

Justice G Chandrasekharan passed the orders recently on a petition filed by the woman, Maheshwari, who is a doctor currently serving in Tamil Nadu.

The judge held the divorce order and decree not valid as the circuit court of Virginia has no jurisdiction to grant divorce to the couple whose marriage was solemnised in India as per Indian customs.

“... the final decree of divorce granted by the circuit court for the city of Alexandria, Virginia, against the first plaintiff (wife) and in favour of the first defendant (husband) is not binding on her and cannot be enforced,” he said.

The court also directed the husband, Ramesh Ramiah, to pay Rs 25 lakh to her as damages for causing “mental stress, agony and annoyance” to her and her family members.

Maheshwari had filed the civil suit seeking a compensation of Rs 2 crore from Ramesh for having caused loss of reputation and status of her family and for making defamatory statements causing mental agony.

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She also sought declaration of the ex parte decree of divorce awarded by the US court in 2006 ab initio void and the return of all her jewellery, silver items and other valuables.

According to her, the marriage was held on June 21, 2004 in Thanjavur and the groom’s parents made a ruckus after her parents only gave her 110 sovereigns of gold jewellery against an agreed 300 sovereigns. A car too could not be bought for him as per the agreement.

Later, they both left for the US on July 3, 2004. She alleged that she was ill-treated by him and his relatives there; moreover, they had no cohabitation.

Unable to bear his torture, she managed to return to India on April 10, 2005. Subsequently, she filed a complaint with the Thanjavur police station and a case was registered against Ramesh under various sections of IPC and Dowry Prohibition Act. In the meantime, he obtained a divorce order.

After a round of litigations in the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court and the Supreme Court between both parties, she moved the civil suit in the principal bench of the Madras High Court in Chennai.

Justice Chandrasekharan rejected Maheshwari’s plea for returning her jewellery and other valuables as she failed to prove they were with her husband.

He also trashed the counter claim of Ramesh seeking Rs 1 crore damages to him on the ground that it is not maintainable as a criminal case against him is still pending.

India Matters


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