SC Rejects Husband’s Plea For Anti-Suit Injunction Against Wife’s Plea In US Court Seeking Divorce On Ground Of Irretrievable Breakdown Of Marriage [Read Judgment]

SC Rejects Husband’s Plea For Anti-Suit Injunction Against Wife’s Plea In US Court Seeking Divorce On Ground Of Irretrievable Breakdown Of Marriage [Read Judgment]

The Supreme Court dismissed a husband’s plea seeking an anti-suit injunction against his wife to restrain her from pursuing petition she had filed in a Florida (US) court, seeking divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage.

The husband had approached the apex court challenging the Punjab and Haryana High Court order that rejected his challenge against district court order which vacated ad-interim injunction granted against the wife.

His main contention was that the wife, along with her minor children, is residing in India since 2003 and filing of petition for divorce in the court in the USA, after receipt of notice in the divorce petition filed by him in India, is an abuse of process of law and amounts to multiplicity of proceedings. Further, he contended that wife seeking a decree of divorce in a foreign court on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage which is not a ground for divorce under the Act are liable to be stayed.

A bench of Justice RK Agrawal and Justice R Banumathi explained anti-suit injunctions as follows: “Anti-Suit Injunctions are meant to restrain a party to a suit/proceeding from instituting or prosecuting a case in another court, including a foreign court. Simply put, an anti-suit injunction is a judicial order restraining one party from prosecuting a case in another court outside its jurisdiction. The principles governing grant of injunction are common to that of granting anti-suit injunction. The cases of injunction are basically governed by the doctrine of equity. It is a well-settled law that the courts in India have power to issue an anti-suit injunction to a party over whom it has personal jurisdiction, in an appropriate case. However, before passing the order of anti-suit injunction, courts should be very cautious and careful, and it should be granted sparingly and not as a matter of routine as such orders involve a court impinging on the jurisdiction of another court, which is not entertained very easily especially when it restrains the parties from instituting or continuing a case in a foreign court.”

The bench further observed that the mere fact that the wife filed the case in Florida Court on the ground which is not available to her under the Hindu Marriage Act does not mean that there is a likelihood of her being succeeding in getting a decree for divorce. The court also observed that the husband has raised this contention before the Circuit Court, Florida, and both the parties will produce evidence with regard to the question whether their marriage is governed by the Act or any other law. “Foreign court cannot be presumed to be exercising its jurisdiction wrongly even after the appellant being able to prove that the parties in the present case are continued to be governed by the law governing Hindus in India in the matter of dispute between them,” the bench said.

The bench also rejected the contention of the husband that the husband will suffer grave injustice if the proceedings are allowed to be continued in the Circuit Court, Florida, taking note of the fact that he himself has been residing there after 2007 and the proceedings for grant of anti-suit injunction were initiated by him in India through another person by empowering him through a power of attorney to file and pursue the disputed litigation on his behalf.

Read the Judgment Here