NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked socialite Poonam Jaidev Shroff, the estranged wife of industrialist Jaidev Shroff, to search for a house of her choice in Mumbai within a week, or it would have to direct the Bombay High Court registry to do the same, and this will be binding on her.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant asked Poonam's counsel to look for a house and come back next week. "Do you want a house?" the court asked.
Earlier, the top court had earlier asked here to identify a house, as her husband agreed to pay the rent till final disposal of their divorce plea by a Mumbai family court.
The bench observed that it will treat it as a lack of bona fide on her part if she does not get a house. "We will ask the Registrar General of the Bombay High Court to select an architect to find a house for you... then you have to be satisfied with it," said the court. Poonam's counsel asked this offer to be monetised. The counsel argued that she could be paid Rs 25 lakh per month for rent, besides Rs 75 lakh annually for expenses.
Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, appearing for the husband, said the offer was only for the rent.
The top court will continue hearing on the matter on March 6. The court said it will not conduct a lengthy hearing on the matter.
Earlier, the Chief Justice told Poonam's counsel that "move to a house of your choice on rent... in six months, divorce will be settled."
Another senior counsel representing Poonam said the couple was living together until some apprehensions popped up. "Can a mother and daughter be kept out of their matrimonial house? The daughter is 13 years old," said the counsel.
At this, the Chief Justice told the wife's counsel: "You need to work it out, we ordered mediation twice but it did not work. We are concerned about the roof over your head at this stage, and make a choice to rent a house."
The Chief Justice had emphasised that the court is willing to record that she is willing to relocate to a premises of her choice, and this arrangement will continue till the disposal of their divorce petition before a family court. The court also asked the husband's counsel to pay the rent for the premises of her choice equivalent to the current residence.
Jaidev is the executive director of United Phosphorous. In 2015, he filed a divorce suit against his wife on grounds of cruelty against him and his two daughters from his first wife. He got separated from his first wife in 2000 and married Poonam in 2005.