NRI Husband stuck between US & Indian Courts

Ignored Indian court orders, punished by Supreme Court

Vinod Mittal (not real name), an NRI living in the US had gone to India to get married. After getting married to Alka (not real name) he returned back to US and did not process his wife’s application as a husband normally would. Yes, he was married before coming to India and he had not really cleaned up his past.

His wife in India, Alka filed for divorce and maintenance in the local High Court. Although Vinod arranged a lawyer in India to file a defence but could not attend to his case. Instead he decided to file for divorce in the US where he was living.

The High Court in India after many hearing dates were adjourned, directed him to appear in person. After giving him several opportunities the High Court in India struck out his defence. He apprehended that he would be arrested under Section 498A on arrival in India and his application for exemption from appearing in person was also rejected by the High Court.

It was then – the penny dropped for Vinod and he decided to travel to India to sort out the mess. He approached the Supreme Court challenging the orders of the High Court.  The Supreme Court upheld the High Court’s order and held that Order X of CPC is an enabling ‘provision that gives powers to courts for certain purposes. The Supreme Court said the High Court was justified in requiring the husband to personally appear before the Court for his clarification, especially since the affidavit of his counsel in America annexed with the affidavit filed in the trial court was not enough to clarify the position and his father, as found by the trial court, could not throw further light in the matter, having not been present during the proceedings in America. Also the inherent powers of the Court under Section 151 C.P.C. can always be exercised to advance interests of justice and it was open for the Court to pass a suitable consequential order under Section 151 CPC as may be necessary for ends of justice or to prevent the abuse of process of Court.

Clearly the Supreme Court showed no sympathy for him particularly for his conduct of taking the India courts lightly and ignoring various orders being made against him.

Indian courts today are very serious about NRIs’ conduct, particularly when it comes to their attitude towards the India judicial system.