Rejected US visa brings 'divorced' couple back in court
MAYURA JANWALKAR : Mumbai | Thu Dec 26 2013, 02:16 hrs
It took a US visa rejection for a Master in Business Management (MBA) graduate to realise that to be able to live with her husband in the US, she would first have to get a court order dissolving her previous marriage.
In a peculiar matrimonial case, the woman and her ex-husband, also remarried, filed a joint petition in the family court seeking divorce by mutual consent, two years after their separation. However, after the family court on October 5 held that their petition was not maintainable, they filed an appeal in the Bombay High Court.
Living under the belief that the "deed of divorce" executed between her and her ex-husband on June 13, 2011, stood as a valid proof of divorce, the woman from Mulund remarried a permanent resident of the US. Her ex-husband too had remarried when they moved the family court seeking divorce.
Their first marriage took place on April 29, 2007, but within a year they decided to part ways citing incompatibility. They notarised the "deed of divorce" executed by them and considered themselves divorced.
On August 10, 2012, the woman married the US-based desktop telecommunication operator. The court was told that he had returned to the US and applied for a visa for his wife after finding a suitable job for her. On September 16, she appeared before the US consulate officials in Mumbai for an interview. However, they did not issue her a visa and informed her that she had not produced a decree of divorce from an Indian court.
"On receipt of the letter dated September 16, for the first time, she came to know that Deed of Divorce dated June 13, 2011, executed between herself and her husband is not a valid decree in the eyes of law," Justices V K Tahilramani and V L Achliya recorded in their order.
The estranged couple then filed a joint petition for divorce by mutual consent and urged the family court to waive the six month cooling-off period.
The family court, however, rejected their petition primarily on the ground that their marriage had already been dissolved by the "deed of divorce" and hence, a petition for divorce by mutual consent could not be entertained.
The High Court, however, said the family court's order cannot be sustained either on facts or in law. "The appellants, though acted under impression that their marriage was dissolved by virtue of deed of divorce and remarried after the execution of said deed, but legally the marriage between the appellants still subsists," the High Court observed.
The High Court added that courts cannot let technicalities impair the dispensation of justice and said no fruitful purpose could be achieved by forcing the parties to wait for six months in passing of the decree, as they had both remarried.
The High Court remanded the case back to the family court and asked it to hear the joint petition for divorce. The estranged couple has been asked to go before the family court on January 2, 2014, to proceed with their petition.