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Judiciary

SC directs sale of ancestral properties to pay Rs 1.25 crore maintenance to woman, whose husband abandoned her & fled to Australia [Read Judgment]

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      25 October, 2023 06:38 PM      0 Comments
SC directs sale of ancestral properties to pay Rs 1.25 crore maintenance to woman whose husband abandoned her & fled to Australia Read Judgment

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has directed sale of shops and attachment of some other property of a man and his son, who abandoned his wife and virtually fled to Australia, in order to pay Rs 1.25 crore, outstanding arrears of maintenance, to his wife.

A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Aravind Kumar said the husband displayed persistent defiant conduct in compliance with its order and the wife fought several rounds of litigation against her in-laws, who chose to go to jail rather paying her.

The woman got orders in her favour, yet she remained without a remedy, it noted.

The bench said the past history of this case, and the orders of this court have demonstrated the utter obduracy of Varun Gopal, who abandoned the wife, and virtually fled to Australia.

The bench relied upon that the documents placed on record of this court, including the affidavits filed by Varun's father, and the bank account statements, which revealed that considerable amounts of money were remitted to Varun Gopal, over a period of time.

The bench pulled up the defiant conduct by Varun and his father Mohan Gopal, who have through one pretext or another stalled compliance with the orders of the apex court.

The bench ordered that ancestral property inherited, particularly six shops would be put to sale by the registrar of the Delhi High Court, which shall ensure that the best prices are realized.

The amounts realised from the sale shall be deposited in a fixed deposit receipt, initially for six months, and its interest, disbursed to the second respondent/applicant. In the event of no sale, the attachment of property shall continue in favour of the applicant," the bench ordered.

In another direction, the bench said the attachment of rent of another shop.

The woman and Varun got married in the year 2012-13, and Varun was employed in Australia.

Within two years of marriage, the matrimonial relationship deteriorated leading to various legal proceedings.

Varun filed anticipatory bail application, but relief was denied to him and since then, he has not participated in the criminal proceedings or in the maintenance proceedings.

The present petitioners (father-in-law and mother-in-law) also sought anticipatory bail to which orders were passed by this court directing them to deposit Rs 40 lakhs towards arrears of maintenance. The money having been not deposited, the anticipatory bail was not granted and they were arrested. After 10 months in custody, this court by order dated July 12, 2019 directed their release on bail, the court said.

The wife said Varun is settled in Australia where he obtained an ex-parte divorce decree dated December 21, 2017, by the family court of Australia. The wife had filed a suit for cancellation of divorce on November 8, 2021, in the family court of Bilaspur, which is pending disposal. The wife claimed that in the meantime, the husband has remarried and now has two kids from his second marriage. The wife lives with her widowed mother, on whom she is dependent for expenses, including litigation expenses. A trial court had granted a maintenance of Rs 1, 27, 500 per month in favour of the wife in April 2021.

The wife claimed that the current outstanding arrears of maintenance amounts to Rs 1.25 Cr. approx.

She claimed that all available modes for the execution of her maintenance order have been exhausted. She sought transfer of ownership of the shops in her name as a means to settle her outstanding maintenance arrears and future maintenance as well.

The wife asked the apex court to invoke its power under Article 142 of the Constitution as she approached it in 2018 where firstly Varuns father and his deceased wife had enjoyed the fruits of anticipatory bail by giving an undertaking of making the payment of due arrears of around Rs 40 lakhs at that point of time. But despite several assurances to the apex court, the same was not paid. The wife also filed a contempt petition where the apex court took cognisance but petitioners did not make the payment and chose to go to jail.

[Read Judgment]

 



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