Apex court to decide if act covers Hindu marriage abroad

Monday, August 2, 2010

NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court Monday issued notice to the estranged wife of a petitioner who has sought the court’s ruling on whether the Hindu Marriage Act applies to an American citizen of Indian origin for dissolution of a marriage solemnised abroad according to Hindu rituals.

There is no direct judgment of this court on this aspect, said a bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice B.S.Chauhan when senior counsel K.K.Mani, appearing for petitioner R. Sridharan, drew the court’s attention on this blank aspect on the applicability of the Hindu Marriage Act.

The court also stayed the proceedings before the family court in Chennai initiated by Tamil cine actress R. Sukanya seeking divorce from Sridharan, a American citizen of Indian origin.

Sridharan had challenged the Madras High Court order that had held that the principal family court had the jurisdiction of hearing divorce case filed by the cine actress, contending that the Hindu Marriage Act clearly states that it extends to the whole of India except for Jammu and Kashmir.

He said that going by the jurisdiction of the Hindu Marriage Act, it could not be applicable to the citizens of America.

The petitioner said that it was settled in law that in order to apply the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, both the parties must be domiciled in India, not only one of them.

Sridharan and Sukanya were married in Balaji Temple in New Jersey. Their marriage was registered on July 30, 2002 with the marriage officer in United States and thus the provisions of the Foreign Marriage Act would only apply, the petitioner contended.

Sukanya left for India on Jan 14, 2003 on the pre-text of doing a programme in a private TV channel. Thereafter she never returned. On July 8 that year, Sridharan served her a notice asking Sukanya to return to her matrimonial home.

On March 3, 2004, Sukanya moved the family court in Chennai seeking the dissolution of marriage.

On July 17 that year, she got ex parte decree of divorce and thereafter started prolonged legal battle culminating in the judgment of the Madras High Court, which Sridharan is now challenging.

Filed under: Court, Immigration

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