Karnataka High Court sets aside family court order requiring wife to pay for husband’s travel from USA to cross-examine him in divorce case

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The Karnataka High Court recently set aside an order of a family court requiring a woman to bear her husband’s travel expenses of ₹1.65 lakh from USA to Bengaluru if she wants to cross-examine him in the divorce case between them [Sindhu Boregowda vs Yashwanth Bhaskar BP]
Justice Krishna S Dixit observed that such a condition would virtually foreclose the petitioner’s right to cross examine her husband in a serious matter where her marriage was at stake.

The single-judge said that courts of justice cannot stipulate a condition to a party which they will not be in a position to comply with.

“Putting a condition of the kind would virtually amount to foreclosing petitioner’s right to cross- to examine/further cross-examine the respondent that too in a serious matter in which her marriage is at stake. Courts of justice cannot stipulate a condition to a party which he or she will not be in a position to comply with. In any circumstance, the condition in question being bereft of elements of justice, is unsustainable,” the Court said.

The Court was hearing an appeal by the wife against a family court order in a dissolution of marriage case filed by her husband.

She contended that when she was already being paid a maintenance of ₹20,000 a month, some of which was still due, the condition for making the huge payment could not have been stipulated.

On the other hand, her husband opposed the appeal and justified the order and the reasons given by the family court.

The High Court observed that the family court had already directed monthly maintenance to the petitioner. The Court further noted that the monthly maintenance was intended for the petitioner, who seemingly lacked any means of livelihood.

That being the case, the Court expressed surprise at the logic in directing the petitioner to bear the travelling expenses of her gainfully employed husband.

“The learned Judge of the Court below ought to have thought, as to how the petitioner would be able to pay this amount, even if the respondent because of his travel has incurred that expenditure,” it added.

The Court observed that it was not the case that the respondent-husband was poor and could not afford to travel to India in pursuance of a case he himself instituted.

The Court acknowledged that the petitioner may have made a mistake by not examining her husband while he was in Bengaluru. However, it recognized that she provided a reasonable explanation for her decision.

Moreover, it was highlighted that both parties expressed their willingness to conduct the cross-examination via video conference.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the plea and quashed the order of the family court.

The petitioner was represented by advocate Sris N Bhat.

The respondent was represented by advocate Ganesh H Kempanna.

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