A family Court in Delhi on Wednesday granted divorce to cricketer Shikhar Dhawan on the ground of mental cruelty by his estranged wife Aesha Dhawan. Aesha did not contest the case after “a reasonable stage” hence, the allegations raised by Dhawan were accepted as unopposed and unchallenged.

Judge Harish Kumar, while noting that the marriage was “dead long ago” and parties have not been living as husband and wife since August 2020, said, “Respondent’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 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 favorable orders from the Court in Australia.”

Dhawan alleged that his respondent 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.

The Court noted, “… it stands proved that the respondent backtracked from her assurance of setting up a 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.”

Other allegations of Dhawan, like compelling him to make her the co-owner of three properties that he had bought in Australia, were also accepted by the Court as Aesha did not contest them.

Considering the allegations of mental cruelty, the Court referred to V. Bhagat v. D. Bhagat, wherein the Apex Court said, “Mental cruelty in Section 13(1)(i-a).can broadly be defined as that conduct which inflicts upon the other party such mental pain and suffering as would make it not possible for that party to live with the other. In other words, mental cruelty must be of such a nature that the parties cannot reasonably be expected to live together. The situation must be such that the wronged party cannot reasonably be asked to put up with such unintentional. If it is physical, it is a question of fact and degree. If it is mental, the inquiry must begin as to the nature of the cruel treatment and then as to the impact of such treatment on the mind of the spouse.”

The Court did not pass any order on the permanent custody of their son and granted Dhawan visitation rights while directing that a separate plea can be filed for contesting his custody. As Aesha along with their son lives in Australia, the bench also noted that India did not come in the list of countries whose court’s judgment/order Australia is obliged to implement in its territory.

Under these circumstances, it is clear that if any order is passed by this Court (on permanent custody) the same would not be implemented in Australia, particularly when the Court in Australia is ruling otherwise, even though there is a provision in Australia to get the order of court of a foreign country whose court’s judgment/order Australia is not obliged to implement in its Australia,” 

said the judge.

The Court further added that, “Since petitioner is a reputed International pride of the nation, subject to the 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.”

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