India Legal News: Hindu Wife Can Seek Divorce Even if Husband is Foreign Citizen


As per India legal news reports, the Madras High Court has held that the courts in the country have jurisdiction to address matrimonial cases, which involve Hindus and are governed by the Hindu Marriage Act, including those cases where the opposite party is a foreign citizen, residing outside India.

India Legal News: Popular South Indian Actress Sukanya Divorces American Husband

As per India legal news reports, the Madras High Court announced this significant decision while ruling in a ‘celebrity’ divorce case.  The popular South Indian actress, R.Sukanya filed for divorce. In 2002, the actress had married R.Sridharan in New Jersey.

The following year, she returned to her acting career but her husband is reported to have sent her letters, asking her to come back. The conflict between the couple took off from there. Sukanya refused to give up her career and she filed a divorce petition in the family court in Chennai.

Without her husband’s permission, the actress obtained divorce. On knowing this, R. Sridharan filed a writ petition before the High Court of Madras, arguing that the divorce obtained in Chennai is not binding since their marriage had taken place in the US. The gist of his argument was that the Indian court had had no jurisdiction to grant divorce in this case. In this case, the Madras High Court held that their marriage was solemnized under the Hindu Marriage Act.

Therefore, the couple will be governed by it, irrespective of which part of the country or world the wife resides and even if her husband is a foreign national with domicile outside India. The division bench comprising Justice Elipe Dharma Rao and Justice K.K. Sasidharan said that after amendment of section 19, of the Hindu Marriage Act, the jurisdiction of the Act is not limited to India.

They stated that it extends outside the territory of India. They pointed out, as follows, “the fact that the husband is residing outside the territory does not prevent the wife from applying before the local designated court to redress her grievances.”

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