The Supreme Court on February 18 adjourned a plea filed by former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah against a Delhi High Court by two weeks. The Delhi HC order had dismissed his challenge to the High Court circular mandating consent from both parties before a matter could be taken up for final hearing during the Court’s restricted functioning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Omar Abdullah is seeking final hearing of the matrimonial appeal filed by him in 2016 in the Delhi High Court, against the refusal of the Family Court to grant him a decree of divorce against his estranged wife Payal (Nath) Abdullah.
Later in 2018, Abdullah had filed an application in the appeal stating that he wanted to re-marry and sought divorce on the ground that his marriage had irretrievably broken down.
On 26th April last year, an office order had been issued by the High Court’s Registrar-General for “listing of certain matters with the consent of both sides”. This was challenged by Abdullah on the grounds that the circular retained a scope for misuse and therefore, ought to be modified.
In February 2021, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde heard the submission of Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Abdullah, who stated that the other party was not giving consent for final hearing despite appearing in the Family Court physically in a related proceeding for maintenance.
To this, the CJI asked whether the Court could coerce someone to give consent to appearing for physical hearing. As reported by LiveLaw,
CJI: How can we coerce someone to give consent for physical hearing?
Sibal: If she is appearing physically in another court, she cannot refuse consent. The respondent is trying to circumvent the HC circular.
Sibal added that it has been 13-years since conjugal relations have stopped between Omar Abdullah and Payal Abdullah and that his client is now over 50-years. After the brief hearing, the bench said that it will consider the matter after two weeks.
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