The Family Court in the Patiala House complex at Delhi on Wednesday granted divorce to Indian cricketer Shikhar Dhawan (37) on the grounds of mental cruelty.
Dhawan got married to Aesha Mukherji in 2012 and the couple has a ten-year-old son, Zoravar Dhawan. Aesha is an Australian citizen and currently resides in Australia with Zoravar, along with two daughters from her first marriage.
Due to matrimonial differences, the couple had been living separately since 2020. Subsequently, Dhawan filed for divorce on grounds of mental cruelty.
After bitter acrimony on son’s custody and visitation battle, Aesha did not contest the divorce case after “a reasonable stage”. Accordingly, the Delhi court accepted all allegations raised by Dhawan as unopposed and unchallenged.
Allegations by Shikhar Dhawan
- Wife had assured to live with him in India, however due to her commitment to her former husband she stayed in Australia with her two children from her previous marriage and her son with Dhawan
- Wife compelled him to make her co-owner of three properties that he had bought in Australia
- Wife had picked up a fight with Dhawan for taking his father to a hospital during Covid-19
- Shikhar also bore the expenses of Aesha and her two daughters’ foreign trips, holidays and even the training of dogs
- According to Dhawan, he discovered post-marriage that the primary reason for the respondent to induce the petitioner into marrying her was merely to extort crores of rupees from him
Delhi Family Court
While pronouncing the divorce decree, Judge Harish Kumar noted that the marriage was “dead long ago” and parties have not being living as husband and wife since August, 2020. The order read as follows:
Respondent’s intentional decision to leave this matter uncontested also show her desire that court should pass decree of divorce even at the cost of holding her guilty of matrimonial offense as she knows that no harm could be caused to her even if she is held to have treated the petitioner with cruelty because she has already obtained sufficient favourable orders from the Court in Australia.
The Judge further noted:
It stands proved that respondent backtracked from her assurance of setting up matrimonial home in India after marriage and thus made the petitioner suffer a long distance marriage and suffer immense agony and anguish of living separately from his own son for years.
Judge Harish Kumar added,
Even though the wife denied the allegation, submitting that she genuinely wanted to live in India with him, but could not due to her commitment towards her daughters from her previous marriage requiring her to stay in Australia, she could not come to live in India and that he was well aware of her commitment, yet she did not choose to contest the claim.
Effectively, all allegations of Dhawan were accepted by the Court as Aesha did not contest it. Accordingly, the decree of divorce was passed.
The Court has not passed any order as of now on the permanent custody of the couple’s son as Aesha is residing in Australia and thus the order from an Indian court will not be valid. However, the court granted Dhawan visitation rights while directing that a separate plea can be filed for contesting his custody. The Court said:
Under this circumstance it is clear that if any order is passed by this Court (on permanent custody) same would not be implemented in Australia particularly when Court in Australia is ruling otherwise, even though there is a provision in Australia to get order of court of foreign country whose court’s judgement/order Australia is not obliged to implement in its Australia.
The Court went on to further add,
Since petitioner is a reputed International pride of the nation, subject to petitioner approaching the Union Government of India, it is requested to take up the issue of visitation/custody of the minor son with its counterpart in Australia to help him have regular visitation or chatting with his own son or his permanent custody.
Voice For Men India Take:
- Every man is a feminist, until he meets a woman at court
- The saga of Shikhar Dhawan’s marriage and divorce is a classic example of how men have no exit from a dead marriage unless and until demands from other side are complied with
- Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 follows fault based divorce, which means unless either party proves fault of the other (mental cruelty in this case), divorce cannot be permitted, even if parties are living separately for years/decades
- Mental cruelty is also a very subjective term, and every Judge and court may view it based on their respective mindset/ideology
- While the allegations made by Dhawan against Aesha are indeed grave, the fundamental question that arises from this verdict is, why did Aesha not contest these allegations?
- It can be inferred that there has been some sort of mutual settlement undertaken by the parties for the wife to not contest these charges or even give a media statement at all
- This is why this case is no victory for the common man in India who faces similar harassment in matrimonial cases for several years
- It is almost next to impossible for an Indian court to pass ex-parte order in matrimonial cases in favour of a husband
- In the first 2-3 years, a common man’s divorce petition does not even come up for arguments, while in this case, the court has swiftly concluded mental cruelty granting divorce to the husband
- Dhawan is a man of means and influence who could have perhaps paid up to his estranged wife to buy his peace
- On the other hand, there are several men whose marriage lasted for less than 6-months, but are dragging to court for more than a decade, paying maintenance to estranged wives month on month, yet the courts do not grant divorce
- Dhawan being termed as “International Pride of the Nation” even gets special court order instructing Government of India to intervene in his child custody case. On the other hand, a middle class father fighting to merely see his child, does not even get a basic hearing or timely order from courts, particularly where wives have been residing in a different jurisdiction
- In most of such cases, by the time an Indian court gives any order, the child is completely brainwashed by the custodial parent (often the mother) and most likely the child even refuses to recognise or acknowledge his father
- We will also address the generic bashing of all divorced women who are looking for remarriage. Sadly, social media thrives on trending stories/cases/opinions that trigger hate and thus we saw multiple posts by influencers, even many Men’s Rights Activists calling for a boycott on divorced Bengali women. In our opinion, such generalisation is not just absurd but similar to calling all men as dowry seekers and domestic abusers
- One can be critical about women in a particular case, but repeated personal remarks, hounding of any side must be discouraged
- We are not trying to create sympathy for Aesha at all, but making Dhawan some martyr is also laughable
- In a nutshell, Dhawan’s uncontested divorce seems more like a mutual settlement or understanding between the estranged couple, and thus, this case by no means can be seen as any ray of hope for Indian Men who are not considered as International Pride
- Most public figures do not even speak up against the anti-men matrimonial laws in India, even after conclusion of their respective cases. Most of them get back to projecting their feminist image in society and continue to give lectures to other men on women empowerment
Are Divorce Laws Biased Against Indian Men? | Justice Markandey Katju | Voice For Men India
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