An estranged spouse cannot unilaterally retract their divorce consent terms without giving plausible reasons, the Bombay high court has held while granting divorce to a Zoroastrian, whose wife had accepted Rs40 lakh as permanent alimony, but later changed her mind and demanded Rs10 lakh more.
The estranged couple in this case had finalised consent terms and approached the high court seeking divorce by mutual agreement under section 32-B of the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936. Under the consent terms, the wife had agreed to accept sum of Rs 40 lakh as permanent alimony. She also decided to withdraw a domestic violence complaint against the husband, and to vacate the matrimonial premises after the HC issued a decree dissolving the marriage.
Acting on the consent terms, the husband paid Rs10 lakh to the wife who in turn withdrew the case. However, while the matter was pending before the HC, she asked for an additional sum of Rs10 lakh.
On September 2, when the matter came up before Justice Gautam Patel for hearing, the judge sought intervention of a senior advocate in an attempt to impress upon the wife that she cannot retract on earlier terms. The senior advocate tried to pursue the woman, but in vain. After speaking to her, the senior advocate informed the court that she was not willing to accept less than Rs50 lakh.
Disapproving the conduct, Justice Patel refused to take her retraction into consideration and dissolved the marriage. The judge noted that the wife signed the consent terms, accepted Rs 40 lakh as full and final settlement. “This (the retraction by the wife) is unfortunate and regrettable,” the judge said.
The court has now directed the husband to deposit balance amount of Rs 32 lakh, payable to the wife, with the HC registry. It has also clarified that the wife will have to vacate her matrimonial home within 30 days of withdrawing the amount, and in any event in 6 months from the date of the order if she does not withdraw the amount.