New Delhi, Aug. 28: The Supreme Court has asked a truant US-based husband to show cause why his properties in India should not be attached after he went back on his word to pay his estranged wife an interim maintenance of Rs 25,000 a month.
The move of the top court, which also asked why contempt proceedings should not be started against Satish Kumar, is being seen as unprecedented.
Ranjan Mukherjee, counsel for Satish, has sought permission to withdraw from the case because of his client’s intransigence. His wife, Anuradha, is doing an MS at the International Technological University in Sunnyvale, US. The couple are fighting their legal battle through their parents who are in India.
The court yesterday issued notice to Satish after Mukherjee and Leela Sarveswar, Anuradha’s counsel, said he was sitting tight after assuring the court that he was seeking a rapprochement with his wife.
According to a petition filed by Anuradha in a matrimonial court, Satish was drawing a monthly salary of Rs 4 lakh. She had shifted to the US on an H-4 visa, which allowed her to stay in that country on condition that she would not take up a job.
“It is unprecedented in Supreme Court annals that it has decided to attach the property of the husband in a matrimonial case. There is no such recorded history,” Sarveshwar claimed to The Telegraph.
Mukherjee said he had decided to withdraw as Satish was entirely uncooperative and seemed to have scant regard for Indian court orders. “If I do not withdraw from the case, my reputation is at stake. An advocate is also an officer of the court which he has to assist conscientiously,” he said.
Satish and Anuradha married on April 20, 2007, at Vizianagaram in Andhra Pradesh under the Hindu Marriages Act. They shifted to the US soon after but their relationship began to sour within two months.
In her petition before the Vizianagaram court, Anuradha claimed that Satish started harassing her for dowry. So, she came to India and filed for divorce in June 2009.
When she returned to the US, Satish allegedly threw her out of the house. She then sought support from TANA, an association of Telugu-speaking Indians, which prodded her to contact her parents.
Anuradha’s parents then filed a petition in the matrimonial court seeking a monthly maintenance of Rs 1 lakh, saying she was staying alone in the US without any source of income. But the court awarded only Rs 25,000 plus Rs 10,000 towards legal expenses.
When she challenged the order in Andhra Pradesh High Court in April 2010, it upheld the earlier order. Satish filed an appeal in the apex court challenging the directions for interim award.
In December 2010, Satish sought time from the apex court to sort out matters with his wife, claiming they were trying to patch up. So, the court granted them a few weeks to work on their relationship.
However, Satish repeatedly kept seeking more time. When the matter was listed for hearing on July 26, 2013, his counsel again sought four more weeks to pay the interim maintenance award.
But when the matter came up for hearing yesterday, an exasperated Mukherjee told the court that despite his best efforts Satish was neither willing to pay the interim award nor commit himself on any issue. “My repeated efforts to persuade him to pay the interim award has failed,” he said.
Irked by his open defiance, the bench then asked Satish to show cause why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him and why steps should not be taken for attachment of his properties.
The next hearing has been scheduled after four weeks.