What is the validity of a divorce decree in India obtained by the husband from a Court of USA ?

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Supreme Court in Smt. Satya v. Shri Teja Singh, (1975) 1 SCC 120. That was a case in which the validity of a decree for divorce obtained by the husband from a Court in the State of Naveda (USA) fell for examination. This Court held that the answer to the question depended upon the Rules of private International Law. Since no system of Private International Law existed that could claim universal recognition, the Indian Courts had to decide the issue regarding the validity of the decree in accordance with the Indian law. Rules of Private International Law followed by other countries could not be adopted mechanically, especially when principles underlying such rules varied greatly and were molded by the distinctive social, political and economic conditions obtaining in different countries. This Court also traced the development of law in America and England and concluded that while British Parliament had found a solution to the vexed questions of recognition of decrees granted by foreign courts by enacting “The recognition of Divorces and Legal Separations Act, 1971” our Parliament had yet to do so. In the facts and circumstances of that case the Court held that the husband was not domiciled in Naveda and that his brief stay in that State did not confer any jurisdiction upon the Naveda Court to grant a decree dissolving the marriage, he being no more than a bird of passage who had resorted to the proceedings there solely to find jurisdiction and obtain a decree for divorce by misrepresenting the facts as regards his domicile in that State. This Court while refusing to recognize the decree observed:

True that the concept of domicile is not uniform throughout the world and just as long residence does not by itself establish domicile, a brief residence may not negative it. But residence for a particular purpose falls to answer the qualitative test for, the purpose being accomplished the residence would cease. The residence must answer “a qualitative as well as a quantitative test”, that is, the two elements of factum et animus must concur. The Respondent went to Naveda forum-hunting, found a convenient jurisdiction which would easily purvey a divorce to him and left it even before the ink on his domiciliary assertion was dry. Thus the decree of the Naveda Court lacks jurisdiction. It can receive no recognition in our courts.

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