dissolution of marriage

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Hindu Marriage Act, 1955: Section 19. Dissolution of marriage-Court to which petition should be presented-Parties marrying in India under Hindu Law-Husband’s petition for dissolution of marriage in Foreign Court-Fraud-Incorrect representation of jurisdictional facts-Husband neither domiciled nor had intention to make the foreign state his home but only technically satisfying the requirement of residence of 90 days for the purpose of obtaining divorce- Divorce decree by foreign court on a ground not available under the 1955 Act-Enforceability of. Civil Procedure Code, 1908: Section 13. Matrimonial dispute-Foreign judgment-When not conclusive. Clause (a)-“Court of competent jurisdiction”-Which is. Clause (b)-Judgment on merits-What is. Clause (c)-Judgment founded on a ground not recognised by Law of India-Effect of. Clause (d)-Judgment obtained in proceedings opposed in principles of natural justice-Effect of-Principles of natural justice-Scope of. Clause (e)-`Fraud’-Scope of-Judgment obtained by fraud- Effect of. Clause (f)-Judgment founded on a breach of law in force in India-Effect of. Section 14-Presumption as to foreign judgments- Expression “Certified copy of a foreign judgment”-Should be read consistent with requirement of Section 86 of Indian Evidence Act. Indian Evidence Act, 1872. Section 41-“Competent court”-Which is. 822 Section 63(1)(2), 65(e)(f), 74(1)(iii), 76, 77 and 86. Foreign judgment-Photostat copy-Admissibility of. Private International Law-Matrimonial dispute- Recognition of foreign judgment-Rules for recognition of foreign matrimonial judgment laid down-Hague convention of 1968 on the recognition of divorce and legal separations- Article 10-Judgment Convention of the European Community. Words and phrases “Residence-Meaning of”. = The first appellant and the first respondent were married at Tirupati on 27.2.1975 according to Hindu Law. They separated in July 1978. The appellant-husband filed a petition for dissolution of the marriage in the Sub-Court of Tirupati stating that he was a resident of South Claiborn Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana, and that he was a citizen of India and that he and his wife last resided together at New Orleans, Louisiana. Subsequently he filed another petition for dissolution of marriage in the Circuit Court St. Louis Country, Missouri, USA alleging that he has been a resident of the State of Missouri for 90 days or more immediately preceding th filing of the petition by refusing to continue to live with the appellant in the US and particularly in the State of Missouri. But from the averments made by him in the petition before the Sub-Judge, Tirupati it was obvious that he and his wife had last resided together at New Orleans, Louisiana and never within the jurisdiction of th Circuit Court of St. Louis Country in the State of Missouri. The respondent-wife filed her reply raising her objections to the maintainability of the petition. She also clearly stated that her reply was without prejudice to her contention that she was not submitting to the jurisdiction of the foreign court. The Circuit Court Missouri assumed jurisdiction on the ground that the 1st Appellant had been a resident of the State of Missouri for 90 days next preceding the commencement of the action in the Court. In the absence of the respondent-wife the Circuit Court, Missouri passed a decree for dissolution of marriage on the only ground that the marriage has irretrievably down. Subsequent to the passing of the decree by the Circuit Court, Missouri, the appellant filed an application for dismissal of his earlier petition before the Sub-Court of Tirupati and the same was dismissed. 823 On 2nd November 1981 the last appellant married appellant No. 2. Thereafter, the 1st-respondent filed a criminal complaint against the appellants for the offence of bigamy. The appellants filed an application for their discharge in view of the decree for dissolution of marriage passed by the Circuit Court, Missouri. The Magistrate discharged the appellants by holding that the complainant-wife had failed to make out a prima facie case against the appellants. The respondent preferred a Criminal Revision Petition before the High Court which set aside the order of the Magistrate by holding (i) that a photostat copy of the judgment of Missouri Court was not admissible in evidence; (ii) since the Learned Magistrate acted on the photostat copy of the judgment, he was in error in discharging the accused. Accordingly the High Court directed the Magistrate to dispose of the petition filed by the appellants for their discharge afresh in accordance with law. Aggrieved by the decision of the High Court the appellants filed appeal in this Court. Dismissing the appeal, this Court, HELD: 1. The decree dissolving the marriage passed by the foreign court is without jurisdiction according to the Hindu Marriage Act as neither the marriage was celebrated nor the parties last resided together nor the respondent resided within the jurisdiction of that Court. Further, irretrievable breakdown of marriage is not one of the grounds recognised by the Act of dissolution of marriage. Hence, the decree of the divorce passed by the foreign court was on a ground unavailable under the Act which is applicable to the marriage. Since with regard to the jurisdiction of the forum as well as the ground on which it is passed the foreign decree in the present case is not in accordance with the Act under which the parties were married, and the respondent had not submitted to the jurisdiction of the court or consented to its passing, it cannot be recognised by the courts in this country and is therefore, unenforceable. [828H, 829A, 828E, 834H, 835A] 2. Residence does not mean a temporary residence for the purpose of obtaining a divorce but habitual residence or residence which is intended to be permanent for future as well. [829E] Smt. Satya v. Teja Singh, [1975] 2 S.C.R. 1971, referred to. 3. The rules of Private International Law in this country are not codified and are scattered in different enactments such as the Civil Procedure Code, the Contract ACt, the Indian Succession Act, the Indian Divorce Act, the Special Marriage Act etc. In addition, some 824 rules have also been evolved by judicial decisions. In matters of status or legal capacity of natural persons, matrimonial disputes, custody of children, adoption, testamentary and intestate succession etc. the problem in this country is complicated by the fact that there exist different personal laws and no uniform rule can be laid down for all citizens. Today more than ever in the past, the need for definitive rules for recognition of foreign judgments in personal and family matters, and particularly in matrimonial disputes has surged to the surface. A large number of foreign decrees in matrimonial matters is becoming the order of the day. A time has, therefore, come to ensure certainty in the recognition of the foreign judgments in these matters. The minimum rules of guidance for securing the certainty need not await legislative initiative. This Court can accomplish the modest job within the frame-work of the present statutory provisions if they are rationally interpreted and extended to achieve the purpose. Though the proposed rules of guidance in this area may prove inadequate or miss some aspects which may not be present to us at this juncture, yet a begining has to be made as best as one can, the lacunae and the errors being left to be filled in and corrected by future judgments. [829H, 830A, 831C, F-H] 4. The relevant provisions of Section 13 of the CPC are capable of being interpreted to secure the required certainty in the sphere of this branch of law in conformity with public policy, justice, equity and good conscience, and the rules so evolved will protect the sanctity of the institution of marriage and the unity of family which are the corner stones of our social life. [832A] 4.1 On an analysis and interpretation of Section 13 of CPC the following rule can be deduced for recognising a foreign matrimonial judgment in this 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 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. [834B-D] 825 5. The High Court erred in setting aside the order of the learned Magistrate only on the ground that the photostat copy of the decree was not admissible in evidence. In the instant case photostat copies of the judicial record of the Court of St. Louis is certified for th Circuit Clerk by the Deputy clerk who is a public officer having the custody of the document within the meaning of Section 76 of the Indian Evidence Act also in the manner required by the provisions of the said section. Hence the photostat copy per se is not inadmissible in evidence. It is inadmissible because it has not further been certified by the representative of our Central Government in the United States as required by Section 86 of the Act. Therefore the document is not admissible in evidence for want of the certificate under Section 86 of the Act and not because it is a photostat copy of the original as held by the High Court. [835B, E, F-G] 6. The Magistrate is directed to proceed with th matter pending before him according to law as expeditiously as possible, preferably within four months. [835G] =, 1991( 2 )SCR 821, 1991( 3 )SCC 451, 1991( 2 )SCALE1 , 1991( 3 )JT 33

PETITIONER: Y. NARASIMHA RAO AND ORS. Vs. RESPONDENT: Y. VENKATA LAKSHMI AND ANR. DATE OF JUDGMENT09/07/1991 BENCH: SAWANT, P.B. BENCH: SAWANT, P.B. MISRA, RANGNATH (CJ) CITATION: 1991 SCR (2) 821 1991 SCC (3) 451 JT 1991 (3) 33 1991 SCALE (2)1 ACT: Hindu Marriage Act, 1955: Section 19. Dissolution of marriage-Court to which petition should … Continue reading

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