Sunday, March 17, 2013

Despite having visitation rights, his former in-laws refused to let him meet his son. Now, he is arguing own case to get divorce cancelled

Publication: Bangalore Mirror;Date: Mar 17, 2013;Section: City;Page: 3

Engineer studies law to get family back

Despite having visitation rights, his former in-laws refused to let him meet his son. Now, he is arguing own case to get divorce cancelled

S Shyam Prasad 

    It is not often that middle-aged adults, especially ones who have a professional degree, go back to college, but then Kiran SJ (name changed on request) is different. A chemical engineer employed as a principal consultant in a leading IT firm, Kiran joined a college in Mangalore four years ago to study law.

    Kiran’s primary reason was paternal: He had just been divorced and his former in-laws refused to allow him to meet his only son, although the court had granted him visitation rights. Kiran is hoping the courts will cancel his divorce,granted in 2008, and help him reconcile with his ex-wife and be reunited with his son, but he wanted to argue the case in person as he believes that advocates are too impersonal and dispassionate. He feels divorce cases are “too mechanical”. He recently completed his LLb and had filed a petition in the High Court of Karnataka earlier this year to cancel his divorce.

    “We had mutually filed for divorce (they were married in 2004) and our advocates wanted it done with,” said Kiran, who claims that he never wanted the divorce. “I had no choice, but to file for divorce. My parents and I were facing harassment charges at that time and the only way to get out of it was to agree to a divorce. But I was deeply disappointed with the proceedings. Law states that when the parties involved do not defend the marriage, the court should. I had hoped the court would ask us to try to reconcile. It did not. We were given a divorce in five minutes.”

    The domestic violence and harassment charges were dropped once Kiran agreed to file for divorce. Kiran had hoped to conduct the upanayana ceremony (the ritual of investing the sacred thread) for his son, now seven years old, but his former in-laws had refused to allow him to even meet him.

    “Advocates were no better,” he said. “One advocate asked me why only I should conduct the upanayana ceremony. Instead of explaining the sethings, I felt I should study law and fight my own case. I wanted to get my ex-wife and son back. Divorce laws have ruined families.”

    Kiran admits he hasn’t spoken to ex-wife in the last five years, but he believes that they would be reunited if the court takes a hand.

    “After five years, I am not saying that we can reunite tomorrow,” Kiran said. “But if the court sets a precedent and cancels the divorce, it will help. If the court gives us a small window of opportunity like letting me meet my son, may be at least through him our marriage could be resurrected. I’m only hoping for a small window of opportunity.”

    Kiran’s case came up for hearing before Justice Abdul Nazeer earlier this week. It wasn’t very encouraging for him. The court had, six weeks earlier, issued notice to his ex-wife seeking to cancel the divorce, but his ex-wife has not responded to the notice.

    The judge said that there was possibility of reconciliation only if his former wife comes to court in the first place. The judge said that the court can wait for three more days for the wife to respond to the notice. As to the issue of visitation rights,the court directed him to go to the jurisdictional court under the Guardians and Wards Act.

‘STOP MECHANICAL MARRIAGES’AT THE hearing, Justice Abdul Nazeer was interested in knowing how Kiran completed his law degree from a day college while working at the same time. Kiran said he worked the night shift and went to college in the day.

    “The only reason I studied law was for my son,” he told the court. He also told court of being prevented from meeting his son and his petition had also challenged the indiscriminate “misuse” of domestic violence laws.

    “I want these mechanical divorces to end,” he told court. To this, the judge said, “For that to stop, mechanical marriages should stop.” The judge attempted to convince Kiran that his petition could not be considered. “There is already an order against you. These are judicial proceedings and not your software office. It should be done in a process known to law. The notice has been issued in this case for limited purpose. You got a divorce in 2008 and it is 2013 now. Even for a review petition, the Supreme Court has held there should be something called reasonable time.”

    Kiran, however, argued that neither he nor his former wife, a gazetted officer, had remarried. But Justice Nazeer said, “You should mature as a lawyer. You cannot argue like a law student. You have a law degree so technically you are a lawyer. It is not a joke to become a lawyer. With due respect to you, you are presenting the case like a student in a moot court. There is josh' no hosh.” 

Kiran told the court that he wanted ‘mechanical’ divorces to end