International custody Battle

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court, which tried to thaw a cold marital relationship of a young couple with two children in a trans-continental custody battle, shook its head in defeat on Tuesday.

It was a “herculean task” to first try and get the couple to see sense, said a bench of Justices Ranjana Desai and Mridula Bhatkar. When they failed, a second option presented itself when the wife, who is in Pune with the children while the husband is in the US, agreed to a mutual consent divorce, which was negotiated and settled last Friday.

On Tuesday, when the matter came up for finalising the divorce terms, the wife sprung a surprise, which disappointed not just the husband’s family but also the judges. “Last Friday, the proposed settlement was fixed at Rs 40 lakh to the wife and the two children with her having custody and him having visitation rights. Now, the wife wants Rs 50 lakh, a house and all her jewellery back,” a lawyer said.

The husband’s family and his lawyer Prabhjit Jauhar said they could not accept the “new” demands. Even the judges appeared fed up. “It doesn’t appear there will be a compromise. Let the matter come up for hearing before a regular bench on March 18,” the bench said.

The case revolved around an Indian couple who were married in Pune, went and lived in the US where they had two children, a boy and a girl (both minor). Things went awry when the wife came home for a vacation last year never to return with the children. The husband moved a local court in the US and got custody orders. The wife moved a court in Pune for maintenance, not divorce.

The husband moved the HC with a habeas corpus plea to see his children. “We will now fight the original habeas corpus matter. The Supreme Court order on the issue is very clear, the US court order has to be followed” said Jauhar.

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