Gujarat courts grant divorce to man, conjugal rights to wife

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In what has ended up as one big paradox, one family court granted a divorce decree to the husband, while another court on the same campus has allowed the wife’s request for restitution of conjugal rights thereby directing the husband to dispense his matrimonial duties.

This marital dispute which got conflicting orders has now ended up in the Gujarat high court which admitted the case. During proceedings on Monday, the bench of Justice J B Pardiwala and Justice V D Nanavati questioned the reason for the contradictory orders by the family courts.

In reply, it was submitted that the husband’s suit for a divorce decree was going on in court No. 2, where the wife could not remain present as she had received the court summons. At the same time, the wife’s application filed under section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act for restitution of conjugal rights was underway in court No. 3, where the husband was absent. Though the courtrooms existed side by side and both the parties were litigating for a few years, the courts passed ex-parte orders in litigants’ favour in 2018.

It was obviously difficult to execute the conflicting orders at the same time. The husband approached the high court and challenged the family court’s order directing him to perform his matrimonial duty.

While the husband’s appeal was pending, the wife also moved the HC recently and challenged the divorce decree stating that it was passed without hearing her.

The husband’s advocate argued that the wife had known about the divorce proceedings, but she chose not to appear in the proceedings and went on to demand restitution of conjugal rights in another court. The wife’s advocate, on the other hand, claimed that the woman had no inkling about the divorce suit and the summons was served in the form of a public notice, which was published in a newspaper.

The couple got married in 2008 and have been living separately since 2013. They have an 11-year-old girl, who lives with her father. The woman also has a grievance about the custody of the child.

The high court admitted the wife’s petition and decided to hear the appeals filed by both the parties together.

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