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Family equations are changing in India. The saas (mother-in-law) remembers how she was when she was the bahu (bride) in the family and then, on occasions, sides with the bahu, against her own son, if she thinks he has been on the wrong.

This is not a scene from another hot-cake television serial, but a real life court drama, in which the mother-in-law not only took up the cudgels for her daughter-in-law, but forced her son to play a hefty alimony to her bahu.

Added to this was the fact that this referred to the family of former Karnataka minister SR Kashappanavar. A family court in Bengaluru recently ordered the late minister’s son, Devanand Shivashankarappa Kashappanavar, to pay a permanent alimony of Rs 4 crore to his estranged wife within 60 days. The verdict was given by fifth additional principal family court judge K Bhagya on July 24.

The wife had petitioned the court in 2015, seeking dissolution of their four-year-old marriage and payment of Rs 4.85 crore as alimony. The couple had been living separately since February 12, 2012.

In the hearing before the judge, the mother-in-law deposed for her daughter-in-law to prove that there was no cohabitation between the two during the time of separation.

The petitioner, the judge maintained, had tried rapprochement, but was rebuffed.

The judge quoted Section 13(1) 9(b) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, which says that if the desertion dates back more than two years prior to filing of the petition for divorce, the petitioner is entitled to a divorce.

That was when the court acknowledged the respondent’s mother’s presence in the witness box, supporting the daughter-in-law and saying that even though her son had married this lady, her son had another marriage to another woman from which he also had a child.

The mother made it clear in court that her son’s marriage to the other woman was against the advice of all elders in the family. She also made it clear that the son was rich, owning large tracts of land, luxury cars, et al.

That validated the huge amount in alimony.

India Legal Bureau

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