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Delhi High Court rejects plea seeking contempt proceedings against man for not filing second motion in divorce case

The High Court of Delhi has rejected a petition filed by a woman seeking contempt proceedings against her husband under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 for not honouring the Division Bench order of November 29, 2021 regarding divorce by mutual consent.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Chandra Dhari Singh noted that the respondent was entitled to reconsider and rethink about the decisions regarding his marital ties to ensure the best interest and welfare of his children. 

Therefore, there was no ground for initiation of contempt proceedings against the respondent, observed the Single-Judge bench and dismissed the petition for being devoid of merit.

The High Court further observed that it did not find any reason to exercise its powers and initiate contempt proceedings against the respondent for the sole reason of him exercising his statutory right of observing the intervening period before moving the Second Motion for divorce.

It said there was nothing to show that the respondent had wilfully disobeyed any order or directions of the Court and hence, the High Court was not inclined to allow the prayers made by the petitioner.

As per the plea filed by one Vineeta Daulet Singh, she got married to Bikkrama Daulet Singh on January 2, 2013 and out of the wedlock, two children were born, a daughter and a son. Due to temperamental issues, the couple started living separately after October 7, 2020. 

As per the case, both the petitioner and the respondent filed several litigations against each other. 

The petitioner filed a complaint under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, before the CMM, Saket Court, New Delhi. She further filed a criminal complaint before the Crime against Women Cell, Malviya Nagar, along with a petition under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1956 before the Family Court, Patiala House Courts, New Delhi.

The respondent filed for Permanent Custody and Guardianship before the Family Court, Patiala House Courts, New Delhi, along with a petition under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 before the Family Court, Patiala House Courts, New Delhi.

The respondent further filed an application under Section 12 of the Guardian and Wards Act, 1890 seeking an interim arrangement regarding the custody and visitation rights of the children. The Family Court allowed this petition by way of an order on October 9, 2021.

Against this order, the petitioner preferred an appeal before this Court by way of filing MAT. APP. (F.C.) No. 102/2021. The Division Bench of this Court in the said appeal suggested the parties to explore the possibility of an amicable settlement.

Consequently, the parties reached an amicable conclusion and a Settlement Agreement was entered into between the parties on November 27, 2021 as per which, the parties mutually decided to withdraw all pending litigations against each other and file for divorce by mutual consent under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

The Division Bench then disposed of the MAT. APP. (F.C.) No. 102/2021 in view of the Settlement arrived at between the parties.

The parties withdrew their pending litigations and filed for divorce by mutual consent and moved the First Motion before the Patiala House Courts, New Delhi, which was allowed vide order dated February 18, 2022. 

However, the respondent did not move the Second Motion petition before the appropriate Court, which aggrieved the petitioner and she moved this court seeking contempt action against the respondent.

The Counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that she made attempts to pursue the respondent to file for the Second Motion, however, the respondent did not take any definitive steps to do the same. It was submitted that even after expiry of six months, the respondent did 

not cooperate for filing the Second Motion.

After getting no positive response from the respondent, the petitioner sent an email on October 19, 2022 and a subsequent legal notice on February 13, 2023. The Counsel said despite receipt

of such communications, the respondent neither responded and nor took any steps to comply with the November 27, 2021 order.

He submitted that the respondent was deliberately and with mala fide intent not obeying the terms of the Settlement Agreement or the orders of this Court. In this regard, the Counsel sought contempt proceedings against the respondent. 

However, the Counsel appearing for the respondent vehemently opposed the instant contempt

petition and submitted that there was no case made out by the petitioner for initiation of contempt proceedings against the respondent.

He said the respondent has complied with the terms of the Settlement Agreement entered into between the parties. The respondent withdrew all the pending cases initiated by him, including the petition for divorce on the ground of adultery and cruelty and as such acted in accordance with the Settlement Agreement.

The Counsel for the respondent further submitted that the only grievance of the petitioner before this Court was that the petition for Second Motion has not been filed due to non-cooperation of the respondent.

He submitted that as per law, even if a party has given an undertaking to file for second motion, it has the right to rethink or renege under Section 13B(2) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Such an exercise of discretion cannot be termed to be opposed to the public policy or contemptuous, noted the Counsel. 

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