Q: I have filed a divorce petition against my wife. Neither she nor her legal representative appeared for the first hearing. What if they do not appear for any of the subsequent hearings? Is there any time frame in this matter? Can the court give an ex parte decision and issue me a divorce decree?
A. Roy, Calcutta
A: Once the judge is satisfied that the summons of the divorce suit have been duly served upon your wife and she isnít appearing or contesting the suit inspite of it, he may fix a date for ex parte hearing. Then, on merits of your case, the judge may grant an ex parte decree in your favour or dismiss your suit.
Q: We have been running a tailoring shop in a rented place for the last 50 years. The receipts are issued in my late fatherís name. He died in February 2008. The landlord comes once a month to collect the rent. In all these years, he increased the rent only once, by 5 per cent. Recently, when we requested him to change the tenancy to my motherís name, he demanded a hefty sum and asked us to vacate the room if we were not ready to pay. The next month, my mother sent the rent by money order but he did not accept it. What legal action can he take against us if we continue the tenancy in my fatherís name?
M. Haque, via email
A: Continuing a tenancy in the name of a deceased person is legally not acceptable. Your mother being the legal heir would be entitled to the tenancy. Since your landlord has refused to accept the rent, your mother could deposit it with the rent controller ó in keeping with the provisions in the West Bengal Premises Tenancy Act, 1997.
Q: I have a PPF account with the State Bank of India. My wife is its nominee. She and I hold a joint savings account in the same branch, against which the bank has our photographs, PAN card numbers and copies of our voter identity cards. Are these enough to establish her as the nominee so that she can claim everything after my death? Or is there any other legal procedure to be followed?
Panchanan Banerjee, Calcutta
A: The status of a nominee is that of a mere custodian, not an heir. Though your wife can withdraw all deposits, she will have the legal duty of distributing your assets equally among all your legal heirs, if any, including herself. In case you have other heirs, maintain joint accounts with her or execute a will bequeathing all your assets to her.