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Decades for divorce decree
- Estranged 25 years ago, couple finally parts ways legally

Twenty-five years ago, they decided they had had enough of each other. They started living separately in 1979 and filed for divorce in 1983. On Tuesday, they finally got what they have wanted for decades — the legal sanction to separate.

As the war of the roses raged on, the couple’s only child, then a one-year-old girl, grew up and got married. The lawyer representing one of them died, leaving his junior to see the case to its logical legal conclusion. The one thing constant in all this while is the political establishment that came to power the year the two got married.

This, in a nutshell, is the broken world of Bimal Kumar Guha and Gaurirani Guha, a world that — for all purposes — crumbled within a couple of years of their marriage in 1977, but took another 24 years to come legally undone. They both walked out of the court on Tuesday, divorced, with the woman being accompanied by her 25-year-old married daughter.

Bimal, employed with the West Bengal State Electricity Board in Krishnagar, married Gaurirani, a resident of Shantipur’s Dhakapara, in 1977.

The daughter was born a year later, but the split started showing soon after. Amidst a flurry of allegations, they decided to separate. That was 1979, and the infant girl went with her mother.

In 1983, Bimal moved the district court in Nadia for a divorce. His estranged wife filed another case and both repeated the allegations that had led to their estrangement.

But the judge was unimpressed. Neither of them had been able to prove his or her allegations, he said, dismissing the case on grounds of insufficient evidence.

Bimal then came to Calcutta High Court, in 1984, and thus began the long wait for a court sanction for a marriage gone sour. But both estranged husband and wife — and their lawyers — played a part in the delay, court officials claimed. If the case was listed for a day, one or the other would not turn up, they explained. Besides, both changed lawyers several times, causing further delay.

A few days ago, high court lawyer Uttam Majumdar realised that his late senior’s name had cropped up in the list of cases to be heard. “I used to act as the junior when the case first came to this court,” Majumdar said on Tuesday. “I had all but forgotten about this case, as my client (Bimal), too, appeared to have forgotten all about it.”

But Tuesday was D-day. A division bench, comprising Justice Ajay Nath Ray and Justice Jayatosh Banerjee, heard out the case on Tuesday and granted divorce. A Supreme Court directive granting divorce to couples staying separately for a considerable time acted as the basis for the division bench’s decision.

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