[Case Brief] Dinesh Singh Thakur v/s Sonal Thakur – Supreme Court of India

Case nameDinesh Singh Thakur v/s Sonal Thakur
Case numberCivil Appeal No. 3878 of 2018
CourtSupreme Court of India
BenchJustice R.K.Agrawal and Justice R. Banumathi
Author of the judgmentJustice R.K.Agrawal
Decided OnApril 17, 2018
Relevant Act/Sections 1) Hindu Marriage Act, Sections 13 and 26
2) Specific Relief Act, Section 41(a) and 41(b)
Author of the case briefSneha Chugh

BRIEF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Dinesh Singh Thakur, the appellant, and Sonal Thakur, the respondent had married on 20.02.1995 according to Hindu Rites. At the time, when the marriage took place, the appellant was working in the United States of America (USA) and after the marriage was solemnized he also took his wife, the respondent to USA on Dependent Visa. Two children were born out of the said wedlock. Later, both the parties got the citizenship of USA and further obtained PIO status (Person of Indian Origin) in 2003 and OCI status (Overseas Citizen of India) in 2006.

In 2016, the appellant filed a petition against the respondent under Sections 13 and 26 of the Hindu Marriage Act. Subsequently, the respondent-wife filed a case for divorce in the Circuit Court of the Sixth Judicial Circuit in and for Pinellas County, Florida, USA, on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage and other reliefs.

Thereafter, a civil suit was filed by the appellant-husband before the District Judge at Family Court, Gurgaon, under Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act for a permanent injunction and declaration inter alia to restrain the respondent-wife from pursuing the petition for divorce before the Court in USA. Learned District Judge, vide order dated 26.09.2016, granted an ex parte ad interim injunction to the appellant-husband. Later, the Learned District Judge vacated the injunction granted after the respondent, being aggrieved, filed an application for the vacation and modification of the order. The appellant then appealed before the High Court where his petition was dismissed.

Aggrieved by the judgment of the High Court, the appellant filed an appeal by way of special leave in the Supreme Court.

ISSUE BEFORE THE COURT OF LAW

The only point for consideration before the court was whether the appellant husband was entitled to the decree of anti-suit injunction against the respondent-wife?

Arguments advanced

The counsel for the appellant contended that the respondent along with her minor children had been residing in India since 2003 and filing of petition for divorce in the Court at USA, after receipt of notice in the divorce petition filed by the appellant-husband in India, is an abuse of process of law and amounts to multiplicity of proceedings. Moreover, since the respondent was currently residing at Gurgaon, the court at Gurgaon would be the forum convenient to both the parties. It was further contended by the counsel for the appellant that only the provisions of Section 41(b) of the Specific Relief Act and the judgment in Rakesh Kumar vs. Ms. Ashima Kumar were considered by the trial Court but the provision of Section 41(a) of the Specific Relief Act, which are relevant in the present context, were not taken into consideration and that High Court was not right in upholding the order of the court below on vacating the ad-interim injunction.

In response, counsel for the respondent claimed that petition filed before the Court at Florida was not only for dissolution of the marriage of the parties but also for claiming various other reliefs such as equitable distribution of marital assets, child support, alimony, partition and other reliefs that were not available under the Indian Law.

RATIO OF THE COURT

The Court referred to its judgment in Modi Entertainment Network and Another vs. WSG Cricket PTE Ltd. and stated that the cases of the injunction are governed by the doctrine of equity and that the Courts of India have the powers to issue anti-suit injunction over whom it has personal jurisdiction in an appropriate case. However, the power has to be exercised sparingly where such an injunction is sought and if the injunction is not granted, it would amount to the defeat of ends of justice and injustice would be perpetuated. The court also referred to various other judgments where an anti-suit injunction was granted.

It was further stated that the respondent was amenable to the jurisdiction of Family court, Gurgaon. However, taking this into consideration, there was nothing on record to hold that the other party would suffer grave injustice if the injunction is not granted.

The contention that the appellant-husband will suffer grave injustice if the proceedings are allowed to be continued in the Circuit Court, Florida USA did not stand to the ground as the appellant himself had been residing there after 2007 and the proceedings for grant of anti-suit injunction were initiated by him in India through another person by empowering him through a power of attorney to file and pursue the disputed litigation on his behalf.

If the injunction is declined, it cannot be said that the ends of justice will be defeated and injustice will be perpetuated.

DECISION HELD

The Court held that it was inappropriate to interfere with the decision rendered by the High Court and gave the opinion that the proceedings in the Foreign Court cannot be said to be oppressive or vexatious. The appeal was accordingly dismissed.