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Monday, July 22, 2013

Hindu Marriage Act - Jurisdiction of Indian court in respect of couples who applied for foreign citizenship =Whether the petition by the wife for judicial separation under Section 10 of the Hindu Marriage Act and custody of the children is not maintainable. ? Since the marriage was taken place at India and since the wife is of Indian Domicile and since the husband failed to prove that he is domicle of Australia and also failed to prove of his giving up of indian Domicle = “the husband has miserably failed to establish that he ever abandoned Indian domicile and/or intended to acquire domicile of his choice”.- “A conjoint reading of Ss. 1 and 2 of the Act would indicate that so far as the second limb of S. 1(2) of the Act is concerned its intra territorial operation of the Act applied to those who reside outside the territories. First limb of sub-section (2) of S. 1 and Cls. (a) and (b) of S.2(1) would make it clear that the Act would apply to Hindus reside in India whether they reside outside the territories or not.”- Hindu marriage Act sec. (2) It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and applies also to Hindus domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends who are outside the said territories.”; The general principle underlying the sovereignty of States is that laws made by one State cannot have operation in another State. A law which has extra territorial operation cannot directly be enforced in another State but such a law is not invalid and saved by Article 245 (2) of the Constitution of India. Article 245(2) provides that no law made by Parliament shall be deemed to be invalid on the ground that it would have extra-territorial operation. - whether a nexus with something in India is necessary.= In our opinion, this extra-territorial operation of law is saved not because of nexus with Hindus but Hindus domiciled in India.; “It is, thus, clear that a condition of a domicile in India, as contemplated in Section 1(2) of H.M.Act, is necessary ingredient to maintain a petition seeking reliefs under the H.M.Act. In other words, a wife, who is domiciled and residing in India when she presents a petition, seeking reliefs under H.M.Act, her petition would be maintainable in the territories of India and in the Court within the local limits of whose ordinary civil jurisdiction she resides.”- Therefore, in our considered opinion, the Act will apply to Hindu outside the territory of India only if such a Hindu is domiciled in the territory of India.; law permits raising of alternative plea but the facts of the present case does not permit the husband to take this course. = It is specific case of the appellant that he is a Swedish citizen domiciled in Australia and it is the Australian courts which shall have jurisdiction in the matter. In order to succeed, the appellant has to establish that he is a domicile of Australia and, in our opinion, he cannot be allowed to make out a third case that in case it is not proved that he is a domicile of Australia, his earlier domicile of choice, that is Sweden, is revived. ; Domicile of origin is not necessarily the place of birth. The birth of a child at a place during temporary absence of the parents from their domicile will not make the place of birth as the domicile of the child.; Domicile of origin prevails until not only another domicile is acquired but it must manifest intention of abandoning the domicile of origin.- when we consider the husband’s claim of being domicile of Australia we find no material to endorse this plea. The residential tenancy agreement is only for 18 months which cannot be termed for a long period. Admittedly, the husband or for that matter, the wife and the children have not acquired the Australian citizenship. In the absence thereof, it is difficult to accept that they intended to reside permanently in Australia. The claim that the husband desired to permanently reside in Australia, in the face of the material available, can only be termed as a dream. It does not establish his intention to reside there permanently. Husband has admitted that his visa was nothing but a “long term permit” and “not a domicile document”. Not only this, there is no whisper at all as to how and in what manner the husband had abandoned the domicile of origin. In the face of it, we find it difficult to accept the case of the husband that he is domiciled in Australia and he shall continue to be the domicile of origin i.e. India. In view of our answer that the husband is a domicile of India, the question that the wife shall follow the domicile of husband is rendered academic. For all these reasons, we are of the opinion that both the husband and wife are domicile of India and, hence, shall be covered by the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. As on fact, we have found that both the husband and wife are domicile of India, and the Act will apply to them, other contentions raised on behalf of the parties, are rendered academic and we refrain ourselves to answer those. In the result, we do not find any merit in the appeal and it is dismissed accordingly but without any order as to costs. CIVIL APPEAL NO.487 OF 2007 In view of our decision in Civil Appeal No. 4629 of 2005 (Sondur Gopal vs. Sondur Rajini) holding that the petition filed by the appellant for judicial separation and custody of the children is maintainable, we are of the opinion that the writ petition filed by the respondent for somewhat similar relief is rendered infructuous. On this ground alone, we allow this appeal and dismiss the writ petition filed by the respondent.

             published in  http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40556
                                                    REPORTABLE




                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.4629 OF 2005


         SONDUR GOPAL                                      APPELLANT
                                   VERSUS
         SONDUR RAJINI                                    RESPONDENT




                                    With


                         CIVIL APPEAL NO.487 OF 2007


         RAJINI SONDUR                                     APPELLANT
                                   VERSUS
         GOPAL SONDUR & ORS.                            RESPONDENTS








                                  JUDGMENT






         CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD,J.





         CIVIL APPEAL NO.4629 OF 2005




                 Appellant-husband, aggrieved by  the  judgment  and  order
         dated 11th of April, 2005 passed by  the  Division  Bench  of  the
         Bombay High Court in Family Court Appeal No. 11 of 2005  reversing
         the judgment and order dated 1st of January, 2005  passed  by  the
         Family Court, Mumbai at Bandra in Interim Application No.  235  of
         2004 in Petition No. A-531 of 2004, is before us with the leave of
         the Court.


                Shorn of unnecessary  details,  facts  giving  rise  to  the
         present appeal are that
the marriage between the appellant-husband
         and the respondent-wife took place on 25th of June, 1989 according
         to the Hindu rites at  Bangalore.
It  was  registered  under  the
         provision of the Hindu Marriage Act also.
After the  marriage  the
         husband left for Sweden in the first week of July,  1989  followed
         by the wife  in  November,  1989.   They  were  blessed  with  two
         children namely, Natasha and Smyan.
Natasha was born on  19th  of
         September, 1993 in Sweden.  She is a  down  syndrome  child.
The
         couple purchased a house in Stockholm, Sweden in  December,  1993.
         Thereafter, the couple applied for Swedish citizenship  which  was
         granted to them in 1997.  
In  June,  1997,  the  couple  moved  to
         Mumbai as, according to the wife, the employer of the husband  was
         setting up his business in India.  The  couple  along  with  child
         Natasha lived in India between June, 1997 and mid  1999.
In  mid
         1999,  the  husband’s  employer  offered  him  a  job  in  Sydney,
         Australia which he  accepted  and  accordingly  moved  to  Sydney,
         Australia.
The couple and the child Natasha  went  to  Sydney  on
         sponsorship visa which allowed them to stay  in  Australia  for  a
         period of 4 years.  
While they were  in  Australia,  in  the  year
         2000, the husband disposed of the house which  they  purchased  in
         Stockholm, Sweden.  
The  second  child,  Smyan  was  born  on  9th
         February, 2001 at Sydney.  The husband lost his job on  7th  July,
         2001 and since he no longer had any sponsorship, he had  to  leave
         Australia in the second week of January, 2002.  
The couple and the
         children shifted to Stockholm and lived in a leased  accommodation
         till October, 2002 during which period the husband had no job.
On
         2nd of October, 2002, the husband got another job at Sydney and to
         join the assignment he went there on 18th of December, 2002.
But
         before that on  14th  of  December,  2002,  the  wife  along  with
         children left for Mumbai.
Later, on 31st of  January,  2003,  the
         wife and the children went to Australia  to  join  the  appellant-
         husband.
However, the wife and the children came back to India  on
         17th of December, 2003 on  a  tourist  visa  whereas  the  husband
         stayed back in Sydney.  
According to the husband, in January, 2004
         he was informed by his wife that she did not  wish  to  return  to
         Sydney at all and, according to him, he came  back  to  India  and
         tried to persuade his  wife  to  accompany  him  back  to  Sydney.
       
According to the husband, he did not succeed  and  ultimately  the
         wife filed petition before the Family  Court,  Bandra  inter  alia
         praying for a decree of judicial separation under  Section  10  of
         the Hindu Marriage Act and  for  custody  of  the  minor  children
         Natasha and Smyan.


                After being served with the  notice,  the  husband  appeared
         before  the  Family  Court  and  filed  an   interim   application
         questioning the maintainability of the petition itself.
According
         to the husband, they were original  citizens  of  India  but  have
         “acquired citizenship of Sweden  in  the  year  1996-1999  and  as
         citizens of Sweden domiciled in  Australia”.  
According  to  the
         husband, the wife along with the children  “arrived  in  India  on
         17th of December, 2003 on a  non-extendable  tourist  visa  for  a
         period of six months and they had confirmed air tickets to  return
         to Sydney on 27th of January, 2004” and  therefore,  “the  parties
         have no domicile in India and, hence, the  parties  would  not  be
         governed by the Hindu Marriage Act”.
According  to  the  husband,
         “the parties by accepting  the  citizenship  of  Sweden  shall  be
         deemed to have given up their domicile of origin, that is,  India
         and acquired a domicile of choice by the combination of  residence
         and intention of permanent or indefinite residence.
The  husband
         has also averred that the domicile of the wife shall  be  that  of
         the husband and since they have abandoned their domicile of origin
         and acquired a domicile  of  choice  outside  the  territories  of
         India, the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act shall not apply to
         them.   
Consequently,  the  petition  by  the  wife  for  judicial
         separation under Section 10 of the Hindu Marriage Act and  custody
         of the children is not maintainable.
According to the husband, he
         did not have any intention to “give  up  the  domicile  of  choice
         namely the Australian domicile nor have  the  parties  acquired  a
         third domicile of choice or resumed the domicile of  origin”  and,
         therefore, provisions of the  Hindu  Marriage  Act  would  not  be
         applicable to them. 
In sum and substance, the plea of the  husband
         is that  they  are  citizens  of  Sweden  presently  domiciled  in
         Australia which is their domicile of choice and  having  abandoned
         the domicile of origin i.e. India, the jurisdiction of the  Family
         Court, Mumbai is barred by the provisions of Section 1(2)  of  the
         Hindu Marriage Act.


                As against this, the case set up by the wife is  that  their
         domicile of origin is  India  and  that  was  never  given  up  or
         abandoned though they acquired the citizenship of Sweden and  then
         moved to Australia.  
According to the wife, even if it is  assumed
         that the husband  had  acquired  domicile  in  Sweden,  she  never
         changed her domicile and continued to be domiciled in India.
The
         wife has set up another alternative plea. According to  her,  even
         if it is assumed that she also had acquired  domicile  of  Sweden,
         that was abandoned by both of them when they shifted to  Australia
         and, therefore, their domicile  of  origin,  that  is,  India  got
         revived.
In short, the case of the wife is that both she and  her
         husband are domiciled in India and, therefore, the Family Court in
         Mumbai has jurisdiction to entertain the  petition  filed  by  her
         seeking a decree  for  judicial  separation  and  custody  of  the
         children.


                The husband in  support  of  his  case  filed  affidavit  of
         evidence  and  he  has  also  been  cross-examined  by  the  wife.
         According to the husband “even  before  the  marriage  he  visited
         Stockholm, Sweden in Spring, 1985” and “immediately  taken  in  by
         the extraordinary beauty of the place and warmth and  friendliness
         of the people”.
According to the husband, the first thought which
         occurred to him was that “Stockholm is the place where” he “wanted
         to live and die”.
According to  his  evidence,  at  the  time  of
         marriage in 1989, he was a domicile  of  Sweden.   From  this  the
         husband perhaps wants to convey that he abandoned the domicile  of
         his birth, that is, India and acquired Sweden as the  domicile  of
         choice.
He went on to say that “keeping in  mind  wife’s  express
         desire to be in English speaking country” he “accepted  the  offer
         to move to Sydney, Australia”.
His  specific  evidence  is  that
         “parties herein are Swedish  citizens,  domiciled  in  Australia”,
         hence, according to the husband, “only  the  courts  in  Australia
         will have the jurisdiction  to  entertain  the  petition  of  this
         nature”.
The husband has further claimed that “on 5th  of  April,
         2004, the day wife  had  filed  the  petition”  he  “had  acquired
         domicile status of Sydney, Australia”.
As regards domicile status
         on the date of cross-examination, that is, 17.11.2004, he insisted
         to be the domicile of Australia.
It is an admitted position  that
         the day on which husband claimed to be the domicile of  Australia,
         that is, 05.04.2004, he was not citizen of  that  country  or  had
         ever its citizen but had 457 visa  which,  according  to  his  own
         evidence “is a long term business permit and it is not a  domicile
         document”.


                The family court, after taking into consideration the  facts
         and circumstances of the case, allowed the  application  filed  by
         the husband and held the petition to be not  maintainable.
While
         doing so, the family court observed that “it cannot be held”  that
         “the husband has never given up  his  domicile  of  origin,  i.e.,
         India.”
However, in appeal, the High Court by the impugned  order
         has set aside the order of the family court and held the  petition
         filed by the wife to be maintainable.
While doing  so,  the  High
         Court held that
“the husband has  miserably  failed  to  establish that he ever abandoned Indian domicile and/or intended to acquire domicile of his choice”.

Even  assuming  that  the  husband  had
         abandoned his domicile of origin and acquired domicile  of  Sweden
         along with citizenship, according to the High Court, he  abandoned
         the domicile of Sweden when he shifted to Australia  and  in  this
         way the domicile of India got revived.
Relevant  portion  of  the
         judgment of the High Court in this regard reads as follows:


                    “15.4………It  is  against  this  factual  matrix,  we  are
                    satisfied that the respondent has  miserably  failed  to
                    establish that he ever abandon  Indian  domicile  and/or
                    intended to acquire domicile of his choice.


                    16. Even if  it  is  assumed  that  the  respondent  had
                    abandoned his domicile of origin and  acquired  domicile
                    of Sweden alongwith citizenship  in  1997,  on  his  own
                    showing the respondent abandoned the domicile of  Sweden
                    when  he  shifted  to  Sydney,  Australia.    Therefore,
                    keeping the case made out by the respondent in view  and
                    our findings in so  far  as  acquisition  of  Australian
                    domicile is concerned, it is clear that the domicile  of
                    India got revived immediately on his abandoning  Swedish
                    domicile…….”


                 It is against this order that the husband is before us with
         the leave of the court.


                We have heard Mr. V.Giri, learned  Senior  Counsel  for  the
         appellant and Mr. Y.H.  Muchhala  and  Mr.Huzefa  Ahmadi,  learned
         Senior Counsel on  behalf  of  respondent.
Mr.  Giri  draws  our
         attention to Section 1 of the Hindu Marriage Act  (hereinafter  to
         be referred to as ‘the Act’) and submits that the Act would  apply
         only to Hindu domiciled in India. 
He  submits  that   the  parties
         having ceased to be the domicile  of  India,  they  shall  not  be
         governed by the Act.
Mr. Muchhala joins issue  and  contends  that
         the benefit of the Act can  be  availed  of  by  Hindus  in  India
         irrespective of their domicile.
He submits that there is no direct
         precedent of this Court on this issue but points out that a  large
         number  of  decisions  of  different  High  Courts   support   his
         contention.
In this  connection,  he  draws  our  attention  to  a
         judgment of Calcutta High Court in Prem Singh v. Sm.Dulari  Bai  &
         Anr. AIR 1973 Cal. 425, relevant portion whereof reads as follows:


                          “On a fair reading of the  above  provisions,  it
                    seems clear from the first section that the  Act  is  in
                    operation in the whole of India except in the  State  of
                    Jammu and Kashmir and applies also to Hindus,  domiciled
                    in the territories to which this Act  extends,  who  are
                    outside the said territories.  This  section  read  with
                    Section  2(1)(a)(b)  makes  it  equally  clear  that  as
                    regards the intra-territorial operation of  the  Act  it
                    applies  to  all  Hindus,  Buddhists,  Jains  or   Sikhs
                    irrespective of the question whether they are  domiciled
                    in India or not.”


                   Reference has also been made to decision of Gujarat  High
           Court in Nitaben v. Dhirendra Chandrakant Shukla & Anr. I (1984)
           D.M.C.252 and our attention has been drawn to the following:


                              “Apparently  looking,  this  argument  of  Mr.
                    Nanavati is attractive. But it would  not  be  forgotten
                    that section 1 of the Act refers to the extension of the
                    Act to the whole of India except the State of Jammu  and
                    Kashmir and also to the territories to which the Act  is
                    applicable, and further to all  those  persons  who  are
                    domiciles of those territories but who are  outside  the
                    said territories.”






                 Yet another decision to which reference has  been  made  is
         the judgment of the Rajasthan High Court in Varindra Singh &  Anr.
         v. State of Rajasthan RLW 2005(3) Raj. 1791. Paragraphs 13 and  17
         which are relevant read as follows:


                    “13. Clause (a) of Sub-section (1) of Section 2  of  the
                    Act of 1955 makes the Act of  1955  applicable   to  all
                    persons who are Hindu by religion  irrespective  of  the
                    fact where they reside.


                          xxx       xxx       xxx


           17. Therefore, Section 2 of the Act of 1955 is very  wide enough
                    to  cover  all  persons  who  are  Hindu   by   religion
                    irrespective of the fact where  they  are  residing  and
                    whether they are domiciled in Indian territories or not”




                 Lastly, learned Senior Counsel has  placed  reliance  on  a
         judgment of the Kerala High  Court  in  Vinaya  Nair  &  Anr.   v.
         Corporation of Kochi AIR 2006 Ker. 275 and our attention has  been
         drawn to the following passage from Paragraph 6  of  the  judgment
         which reads as follows:


                 “A conjoint reading of Ss.  1  and  2  of  the  Act  would
                    indicate that so far as the second limb of  S.  1(2)  of
                    the Act is concerned its intra territorial operation  of
                    the  Act  applied  to  those  who  reside  outside   the
                    territories. First limb of sub-section (2) of S.  1  and
                    Cls. (a) and (b) of S.2(1) would make it clear that  the
                    Act would apply to Hindus reside in India  whether  they
                    reside outside the territories or not.”




                 Rival submission necessitates examination  of  extent  and
         applicability of the Act. Section 1(2) of  the  Act  provides  for
         extent of the Act. The same reads as follows:


                    “1. Short title and extent.-




                    (1)      xxx        xxx        xx


                    (2) It extends to the whole of India except the State of
                    Jammu and Kashmir, and applies also to Hindus  domiciled
                    in the territories to which this  Act  extends  who  are
                    outside the said territories.”


                From a plain reading of Section  1(2)  of  the  Act,  it  is
         evident that  it  has  extra-territorial  operation.
The  general
         principle underlying  the sovereignty of States is that laws  made
         by one State cannot have operation in another State. A  law  which
         has extra territorial operation cannot  directly  be  enforced  in
         another State but such a law is not invalid and saved  by  Article
         245 (2) of the Constitution of India. Article 245(2) provides that
         no law made by Parliament shall be deemed to  be  invalid  on  the
         ground that it would have extra-territorial  operation.  
But  this
         does not mean that law having extra-territorial operation  can  be
         enacted which has no nexus at all  with  India.  In  our  opinion,
         unless  such  contingency  exists,   the   Parliament   shall   be
         incompetent to make  a  law  having  extra-territorial  operation.
         Reference in this connection can be made to  a  decision  of  this
         Court  in   M/s.Electronics   Corporation   of   India   Ltd.   v.
         Commissioner of Income Tax & Anr. 1989 Supp (2) SCC 642  in  which
         it has been held as follows:


                        “9.But  the  question  is  whether  a  nexus   with
                    something in India is necessary. It  seems  to  us  that
                    unless  such  nexus  exists  Parliament  will  have   no
                    competence to make  the  law.  It  will  be  noted  that
                    Article 245(1) empowers Parliament to enact law for  the
                    whole or  any  part  of  the  territory  of  India.  The
                    provocation for the  law  must  be  found  within  India
                    itself. Such a law may have extra-territorial  operation
                    in order to sub-serve the object, and that  object  must
                    be related to something in India.  It  is  inconceivable
                    that a law should be made by Parliament in  India  which
                    has no relationship with anything in India.“




                 Bearing in mind the principle aforesaid, when  we  consider
         Section 1(2) of the Act, it is evident that the Act extends to the
         Hindus of whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir and
         also applies to Hindus domiciled in India who are outside the said
         territory. In short, the Act, in our opinion, will apply to Hindus
         domiciled in India even if  they  reside  outside  India.  If  the
         requirement of domicile in India is omitted  altogether,  the  Act
         shall have  no  nexus  with  India  which  shall  render  the  Act
         vulnerable  on the ground that extra-territorial operation has  no
         nexus with India. In our opinion, this extra-territorial operation
         of law is saved not  because  of  nexus  with  Hindus  but  Hindus
         domiciled in India.


                 At this  stage,  it  shall  be  useful  to  refer  to  the
         observation made by the High Court in the impugned order which  is
         quoted hereunder.


                             “It is, thus,  clear  that  a  condition  of  a
                    domicile in India, as contemplated in  Section  1(2)  of
                    H.M.Act, is necessary ingredient to maintain a  petition
                    seeking reliefs under the H.M.Act.  In  other  words,  a
                    wife, who is domiciled and residing in  India  when  she
                    presents a petition, seeking reliefs under H.M.Act,  her
                    petition would be maintainable  in  the  territories  of
                    India and in the Court within the local limits of  whose
                    ordinary civil jurisdiction she resides.”


                 Now, we revert to the various decisions of the High Courts
         relied on by the Senior Counsel for the respondent-wife; the first
         in sequence is the decision of Calcutta High Court in the case  of
         Prem Singh  (supra).  In  this  case,  the  husband  submitted  an
         application for restitution of conjugal rights inter alia pleading
         that he had married his wife according to Hindu  rites  in  India.
         After the marriage, they continued to live as husband and wife and
         a daughter was born. The grievance of the  husband  was  that  the
         wife had failed to return to the matrimonial home which  made  him
         to file an application for restitution  of  conjugal  rights.  The
         trial court noticed that the husband was a Nepali and he was not a
         domicile in India and therefore, he could  not  have  invoked  the
         provisions of the Act. While interpreting Sections 1(1)  and  2(1)
         of the Act, the Court held that as regards  the  intra-territorial
         operation of the Act, it is  clear  that  it  applies  to  Hindus,
         Buddhists, Jaina and Sikhs irrespective  of  the  question  as  to
         whether they are domiciled in India or not. Having given our  most
         anxious consideration, we are unable to endorse the  view  of  the
         Calcutta High Court in such a wide term. If this view is accepted,
         a Hindu living anywhere in the world, can invoke the  jurisdiction
         of the Courts in India in regard to the matters covered under  the
         Act.
To say that it  applies  to  Hindus  irrespective  of  their
         domicile extends the extra-territorial operation of  the  Act  all
         over the world without any nexus which interpretation if approved,
         would make such provision invalid.
Further, this will render  the
         words  “domiciled”  in  Section  1(2)  of   the   Act   redundant.
         Legislature ordinarily does not waste its  words  is  an  accepted
         principle  of  interpretation.   Any  other  interpretation  would
         render  the  word  ‘domicile’  redundant.   We  do  not  find  any
         compelling reason to  charter  this  course.   Therefore,  in  our
         opinion, the decision of the Calcutta High  Court  taking  a  view
         that the provisions of the Act would  apply  to  a  Hindu  whether
         domiciled in the territory of India or not does not lay  down  the
         law correctly.  One may concede to the applicability of the Act if
         one of the parties is Hindu of Indian domicile and the other party
         a Hindu volunteering to be governed by the Act.


                 As regards the passage from the judgment  of  the  Gujarat
         High Court in  Nitaben (Supra) relied on by the wife, it does  not
         lay down that the Act applies to  all  Hindus,  whether  they  are
         domiciled in India or not.  In fact, the High Court has held  that
         it extends to all  those  persons  who  are  domiciles  of  India,
         excluding Jammu and Kashmir.


                 So far as the decision of  the  Rajasthan  High  Court  in
         Varindra Singh (supra) is concerned, it is true that under Section
         1(2) of the Act, residence in India is not necessary and Section 2
         also  does  not  talk  about  requirement  of  domicile  for   its
         application.   This  is  what  precisely  has  been  said  by  the
         Rajasthan High Court in this judgment but, in  our  opinion,  what
         the learned Judge failed to notice is that the application of  the
         Act shall come into picture only when  the  Act  extends  to  that
         area.  Hence, in our opinion, the Rajasthan High Court’s  judgment
         does not lay down the law correctly.  For the same reason, in  our
         opinion the judgment of the Kerala High Court is erroneous.


                 Section 2(1) provides for the application of the Act.  The
         same reads as follows:


                    2. Application of Act.- (1) This Act applies –


                    (a) to any person who is a Hindu by religion in  any  of
                    its forms or developments,  including  a  Virashaiva,  a
                    Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana or  Arya
                    Samaj,


                    (b) to any person who is a Buddhist, Jaina  or  Sikh  by
                    religion, and


                    (c) to any other person domiciled in the territories  to
                    which this Act extends who is not a  Muslim,  Christian,
                    Parsi or Jew by religion, unless it is proved  that  any
                    such person would not have been governed  by  the  Hindu
                    law or by any custom or usage as part  of  that  law  in
                    respect of any of the matters dealt with herein if  this
                    Act had not been passed.”


                  This section contemplates application of the Act to  Hindu
         by religion in any of its  forms  or  Hindu  within  the  extended
         meaning i.e. Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh and, in fact, applies to  all
         such persons  domiciled  in  the  country  who  are  not  Muslims,
         Christians, Parsi or Jew, unless it is proved  that  such  persons
         are not governed by the Act under any custom or usage.  Therefore,
         we are of the opinion that Section 2 will apply to Hindus when the
         Act extends to that area  in  terms  of  Section  1  of  the  Act.
         Therefore, in our considered opinion, the Act will apply to  Hindu
         outside the territory of India only if such a Hindu  is  domiciled
         in the territory of India.


                 There is not much dispute that the wife  at  the  time  of
         presentation of the petition was resident of India.  In  order  to
         defeat the petition on the ground  of  maintainability,  Mr.  Giri
         submits that the wife will follow the domicile of the husband  and
         when Sweden has become the domicile of  choice,  the  domicile  of
         origin i.e. India has come to an end.  According to  the  husband,
         the parties had India as the domicile of origin, but in  1987  the
         husband  moved  to  Sweden  with  an  intention  to  reside  there
         permanently and acquired the Swedish domicile as his  domicile  of
         choice. After the marriage, the  wife  also  moved  to  Sweden  to
         reside  permanently  there  and  both  of  them  acquired  Swedish
         citizenship in 1996-97 thereby giving up their domicile of  origin
         and embracing Sweden as their  domicile  of  choice.  Further,  on
         account of express desire of  the  wife  to  move  to  an  English
         speaking country, the family moved to Australia in June, 1999 with
         an intention to reside there permanently and initiated the process
         to acquire the permanent resident status in  Australia.  On  these
         facts, the husband intends to  contend  that  they  have  acquired
         Swedish domicile as domicile of  choice.  Mr.  Muchhala,  however,
         submits that the specific case of the husband  is  that  he  is  a
         Swedish  citizen  domiciled  in  Australia  and,  therefore,   the
         appellant cannot be allowed to contend that  he  is  domiciled  in
         Sweden. He points out that the  husband  is  making  this  attempt
         knowing very  well  that  his  claim  of  being  the  domicile  of
         Australia is not worthy of acceptance and in that  contingency  to
         contend that the earlier  domicile  of  choice,  i.e.  Sweden  has
         revived.


                We have bestowed our consideration to the  rival  submission
         and we find substance  in  the  submission  of  Mr.  Muchhala.  In
         certain contingency, law permits raising of alternative  plea  but
         the facts of the present case does not permit the husband to  take
         this course.
It is specific case of the appellant  that  he  is  a
         Swedish citizen domiciled in Australia and it  is  the  Australian
         courts which shall have jurisdiction in the matter.  In  order  to
         succeed, the appellant has to establish that he is a  domicile  of
         Australia and, in our opinion, he cannot be allowed to make out  a
         third case that in case it is not proved that he is a domicile  of
         Australia, his earlier domicile of  choice,  that  is  Sweden,  is
         revived.  
In this connection, we deem it  expedient  to  reproduce
         the averment made by him in this regard:


                    “22……..In the instant case, it is submitted that in  the
                    year 1996 the applicant acquired citizenship as well  as
                    domicile  of  Sweden  and  is  presently  domiciled   in
                    Australia.   Thus,  the  Hindu  Marriage  Act   is   not
                    applicable to the parties herein and  the  Family  Court
                    Mumbai has no jurisdiction to proceed in the matter  and
                    the petition is not maintainable under Section 10 of the
                    Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.”


                The appellant has further averred  that  the  parties  never
         acquired a third domicile of choice, the same reads as follows:


                    “19…..In the instant case, there is no intention to give
                    up the domicile of choice namely the Australia  domicile
                    and nor have the parties acquired a  third  domicile  of
                    choice or resume the domicile of origin……….”


                Further, the husband in his evidence has stated that at  the
         time of marriage in 1989, he was a domicile of Sweden, but  it  is
         not his case that he shall be  governed  by  the  Swedish  law  or
         Swedish courts will have jurisdiction.  His specific  evidence  in
         this regard reads as follows:




                    “7……as  the  parties  herein   are   Swedish   citizens,
                    domiciled in Australia, and hence it is only the  Courts
                    in Australia that have the jurisdiction to  entertain  a
                    petition of this nature…….”




                From the aforesaid, it is evident that  the  appellant  does
         not claim to be the domicile  of  Sweden  but  claims  to  be  the
         domicile of Australia and,  therefore,  the  only  question  which
         requires our consideration is  as  to  whether  Australia  is  the
         husband’s domicile of choice.


                Domicile are of three kinds, viz. domicile  of  origin,  the
         domicile by operation of law and the domicile of  choice.  In  the
         present case, we are concerned only with the  domicile  of  origin
         and domicile of choice.  Domicile of  origin  is  not  necessarily
         the place of birth. The  birth  of  a  child  at  a  place  during
         temporary absence of the parents from their domicile will not make
          the place of birth as the domicile of the child. In  domicile  of
         choice one is abandoned and another domicile is acquired  but  for
         that, the acquisition  of  another  domicile  is  not  sufficient.
         Domicile of origin prevails until not only   another  domicile  is
         acquired  but  it  must  manifest   intention  of  abandoning  the
         domicile of origin. In order to establish that Australia is  their
         domicile of choice, the husband has relied  on  their  residential
         tenancy agreement  dated  25.01.2003  for  period  of  18  months;
         enrollment of Natasha in Warrawee  Public  School  in  April,2003;
         commencement of proceedings for grant of permanent resident status
         in Australia during October-November,  2003;   and  submission  of
         application by the husband and  wife  on  11.11.2003  for  getting
         their permanent resident status in Australia.


                The right to change the domicile of birth  is  available  to
         any person not legally dependant  and such a  person  can  acquire
         domicile of choice.
It is done by  residing  in  the  country  of
         choice with intention of continuing to reside there  indefinitely.
         Unless  proved,  there  is  presumption  against  the  change   of
         domicile.
Therefore, the person who alleges it has to prove that.
          Intention is always lodged in the mind,  which  can  be  inferred
         from any act, event or circumstance in the life  of  such  person.
         Residence, for a long period, is an evidence of such an  intention
         so also the change of nationality.


                In the aforesaid background,
when we consider the  husband’s
         claim of being domicile  of  Australia  we  find  no  material  to
         endorse this plea. 
 The residential tenancy agreement is only  for
         18 months which cannot be termed for a long  period.
Admittedly,
         the husband or for that matter, the wife and the children have not
         acquired the Australian citizenship.
In the absence thereof, it is
         difficult to accept that they intended to  reside  permanently  in
         Australia.
The claim  that  the  husband  desired  to  permanently
         reside in Australia, in the face of the  material  available,  can
         only be termed as a dream.
It does not establish his intention to
         reside there permanently.
Husband has admitted that his visa  was
         nothing but a “long term permit” and “not  a  domicile  document”.
       
Not only this, there is no whisper at all as to how  and  in  what
         manner the husband had abandoned the domicile of  origin.
In  the
         face of it, we find it difficult to accept the case of the husband
         that he is domiciled in Australia and he shall continue to be  the
         domicile of origin i.e. India. 
In view  of  our  answer  that  the
         husband is a domicile of India, the question that the  wife  shall
         follow the domicile of husband  is  rendered  academic.
For  all
         these reasons, we are of the opinion that  both  the  husband  and
         wife are domicile of India and, hence, shall  be  covered  by  the
         provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. 
As on  fact,  we  have
         found that both the husband and wife are domicile  of  India,  and
         the Act will apply to them, other contentions raised on behalf  of
         the parties, are rendered academic and  we  refrain  ourselves  to
         answer those.


                In the result, we do not find any merit in the appeal and it
         is dismissed accordingly but without any order as to costs.


         CIVIL APPEAL NO.487 OF 2007


                In view of our decision in Civil Appeal  No.  4629  of  2005
         (Sondur Gopal vs. Sondur Rajini) holding that the  petition  filed
         by the appellant  for  judicial  separation  and  custody  of  the
         children is maintainable, we are of  the  opinion  that  the  writ
         petition filed by the respondent for somewhat  similar  relief  is
         rendered infructuous.  On this ground alone, we allow this  appeal
         and dismiss the writ petition filed by the respondent.




                                       ………………………………………………………………J.

                                       (CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD)






                                                   ………..……….………………………………..J.
                                             (V.GOPALA GOWDA)




         NEW DELHI,
         JULY 15, 2013.



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