The Bombay High Court in its order dated September 11, 2023 directed a wife to keep her end of the deal under clauses of the consent terms for a divorce within two months and not withdraw from it.
Justice Amit Borkar in his order stated:
Consent terms create mutual obligation on the parties involved. It is “not permissible” for a wife to “wriggle out of consent terms after accepting benefits of it” in divorce proceedings.
Parties got married in 2007 and have a minor child.
In 2018, the husband filed for divorce at the Pune Family Court on grounds of cruelty by wife under Section 13(1) (i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955. As per process, the divorce proceedings were referred to a mediator.
In September 2020, the couple finally agreed to settle the matter amicably and accordingly drafted certain consent terms, that created obligations on both parties. The husband would make financial and property transfers, while the wife would withdraw all cases and allow access between father and the child.
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Amol Jagtap, advocate for the petitioner submitted that the petitioner-husband has complied with the obligations by paying amount Rs.12,50,000 (Rupees twelve lakh fifty thousand) towards one time maintenance to the respondent and also transferred the residential flat after paying off the loan amount on the same. According to him, obligations cast on petitioner as per clauses 2, 6 & 7 of the consent terms have not been complied with by the respondent-wife.
On the other hand, the respondent wife argued that payment of the maintenance is not fully complied with and clause 5 is for transfer of Public Provident Fund (PPF) account in her name was also pending.
The petitioner-husband therefore, filed two applications before the Trial Court seeking directions against the respondent to comply with the consent terms, which was rejected by the Trial Court holding that the petitioner has remedy available to him under the law.
The husband then approached the High Court to challenge the Trial Court order passed in August 2022 rejecting his plea for directions to his estranged wife to honour the settlement terms.
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Bombay High Court
The single-judge high court bench of Justice Amit Borkar scrutinised the terms and was satisfied that all were enforceable in law. Dispossing off the husband’s petition, the High Court directed the wife to comply with the consent terms agreed by her.
Maintenance & Transfer of Flat
The High Court observed that the husband had very much performed his part of the consent terms by paying Rs 12.5 lakh to the wife as a one-time settlement towards maintenance and also transferred the residential flat in her name.
The wife, on the other hand, had failed to comply with her terms where she agreed to withdraw domestic violence and cruelty cases against the husband and also allowing child access.
The High Court clearly stated that the PPF needs to be transferred after the divorce decree is passed.
The HC addressed the wife’s fear of non-compliance of sharing costs for higher education of the child, stating that wife always has provision under the law if this was not complied with.
Concluding the matter, the High Court ordered:
The respondent (wife) had accepted the benefit arising out of consent terms. It is, therefore, not permissible for the respondent to wriggle out of consent terms of accepting benefits of it.
The respondent shall perform her part under clauses 2, 6 & 7 of the consent terms within the period of two months from today.
If the respondent fails to perform her part of the consent terms within stipulated time above, the application below Exhibit 63 filed before the Trial Court dated 7 September 2021 shall stand allowed in terms of prayer clause (b).
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Voice For Men India Take:
- These are classic examples of how domestic violence and cruelty laws have become mere tools in the hands of the wife to enforce monetary settlements
- Whether the divorce is initiated by a husband or the wife, it is only and only the husband who has to pay, even if the wife had been cruel to him
- Voice For Men India is always of the view that any husband found guilty of being violent with his wife must face the law
- Unfortunately, these settlements are aided by the system, leaving the men with no choice but to pay up
- A counter argument by women’s rights activists is that if the wife sends husband to jail, who will provide for her and children?
- If that is the main contention then what is the effectiveness of such a law?
- Sadly, such cases and settlements make us question every single domestic violence case today, whether the same is genuine or applied only to seal wife’s financial security for the future
Note: Party names are hidden in the order below as per request.
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