According to Harish Kumar, the Family Court judge, “There is no dispute that both parties had agreed to take divorce by mutual consent and that their marriage is otherwise dead long ago and have not been living as husband and wife since August 8, 2020.”
Judge Kumar further noted, “Respondent’s/ estranged wife’s intentional decision to leave this matter uncontested also shows her desire that the court should pass a decree of divorce even at the cost of holding her guilty of the matrimonial offence.”
The court considered the fact that Shikhar Dhawan’s estranged wife had already obtained favourable orders from the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Australia, which appeared to embolden her stance in not abiding by previous court rulings. Consequently, the court ruled in favour of Dhawan, declaring him entitled to a decree of divorce on the grounds of cruelty, in accordance with Section 13(1)(a) of the Hindu Marriage Act.
Shikhar Dhawan and Ayesha Mukherje
The judgement effectively dissolves the marriage that was solemnised on December 30, 2012, in a Gurdwara on Nelson Mandela Marg, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi.
In addition to the divorce, Shikhar Dhawan had sought permanent custody of his minor son, citing concerns for the child’s welfare due to the respondent’s actions. However, the custody issue proved complex due to prior court orders in Australia related to the child’s custody.
The court addressed this matter, stating, “The child is an Australian citizen and is in Australia. Any order or judgement can be implemented in foreign territory effectively only if the State machinery of that foreign country is willing to implement the same either voluntarily or under international obligations.”
The court directed the estranged wife to bring the child to India for visitation purposes during school vacations, including overnight stays with Shikhar Dhawan and his family members, subject to the child’s academic schedule. Additionally, unsupervised meetings between the child and Dhawan in Australia were permitted with advance intimation.
In his plea, Shikhar Dhawan alleged, “The petitioner bought three immovable properties in Australia from his own funds but was compelled by the respondent to make her the 99% owner in one property and joint owner in two properties.” He claimed that his wife had taken a substantial portion of the net sale proceeds from one property and the entire net sale proceeds of another, demanding the title of the third property to be transferred to her.
This divorce ruling marks the end of an 11-year marriage, bringing some resolution to a complex and emotionally charged legal battle.
(With inputs from ANI)