Terming the “alarming” increase in the number of NRI grooms deserting their wives and putting them to protracted trials as a serious threat to Punjab’s social order and culture, the Punjab and Haryana high court has maintained that such extraordinary ill-conceived notions have to be curbed through extraordinary measures only.
Disposing a contempt of court application filed by a Jalandhar resident, Kulwinder Kaur, against her US-based father-in-law Tasminder Singh, justice Surya Kant said there were hundreds of “unnoticed” victims like her, while offenders living aboard have got a tendency to disown the relationship. The court observed that hallmark of these contempt proceedings is how the dreams of a newly-married young girl were shattered by an “absentee husband” living abroad.
Kulwinder got married to Tasminder’s US-based son Baljit Singh more than a decade back. He went back to the US about two weeks after the marriage. Subsequently, he filed a “joint petition” for divorce in the US though Kulwinder was never taken to that country.
Tasminder, on his occasional visit to India, was impleaded as party in a criminal complaint lodged by Kulwinder, while the court concerned had attached his immovable property as he was keen to dispose the same and run away from the scene.
Tasminder, thus, had to stay in India per force and not by choice, the court said. “Tasminder, in brazen violation of the court orders, had sold out his property. The intention of the respondent to dupe Kulwinder or to play fraud on the court and to hoodwink the law of land stands proved beyond any doubt,” the court said.
The land was sold for Rs 1.30 crore per acre and substantial part of sale consideration was received by Tasminder in cash, except for a sum of Rs 26.40 lakh, the court said, while rejecting Tasminder’s plea that he was forcibly taken to court by the vendee for execution of sale deed.
“The respondent has knowingly, deliberately and willfully breached his own undertaking given before the court and the orders passed by the court. Hence, he is guilty of committing civil contempt,” Justice Kant added.
“I am of the firm view that the respondent doesn’t deserve any leniency. I accordingly award the respondent sentence of six months’ civil imprisonment,” he said.
Subject to his right to appeal and/or expiry of period of limitation of appeal, he was directed to surrender before the chief judicial magistrate, Jalandhar, who shall then take him into custody for sufferance of the sentence, the court ruled.
The court invoked the powers under Article 215 of the constitution so as to grant some effective relief to the victim. Since the petitioner’s husband has fled and arms of the law are yet to get the desired length to catch hold of him, the petitioner cannot be consoled with illusory relief of one after the other court orders in her favour unless some independent source of interim maintenance is made available to her at the cost of respondent and his family, justice Kant said.
“The sale consideration received by the respondent has also been gulped by him alone. I direct the district magistrate, Jalandhar, to dispossess Tasminder from the remaining more than 5-acre land owned by him and entrust the possession thereof to Kulwinder and make necessary entries in the revenue record.
She shall be entitled to perpetual possession of the said land as a source of her livelihood besides her first charge of the land, the respondent or his family shall have no right whatsoever to sell, mortgage, and transfer or to create any type of encumbrance thereupon,” the court said.
The court ruled that in the event of any instrument registered in respect of the said land, it shall be cancelled forthwith and the revenue officers and registering authority shall be personally responsible for the same.