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Sunita Bhatia vs Vineet Bhatia on 10 August, 2018

* IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI

% Date of decision: 10th August, 2018.

+ CM(M) 909/2018

SUNITA BHATIA ….. Petitioner
Through: Mr. Vishal Chhabra, Adv. with
petitioner-in-person.

Versus
VINEET BHATIA ….. Respondent
Through: None.
CORAM:
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE RAJIV SAHAI ENDLAW

CM No.32135/2018 (for exemption)

1. Allowed, subject to just exceptions.

2. The application is disposed of.

CM(M) 909/2018 CM No.32134/2018 (for stay)

3. This petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India impugns
the order (dated 13th April, 2018 in HMA No.1743/2014 of the Court of
Principal Judge, Family Court (Central)) of dismissal of the application of
the petitioner/wife under Section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908
(CPC).

4. The counsel for the petitioner/wife has been heard.

5. The respondent/husband has filed the proceedings, from which this
petition arises, for dissolution of marriage with the petitioner/wife, under
Sections 13(1)(i-a) and 13(1)(i-b) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. On the
failure of the petitioner/wife to file written statement, the defence of the
CM(M) 909/2018 Page 1 of 4
petitioner/wife to the aforesaid proceedings for dissolution of marriage was
struck off. The petitioner/wife, on 30th January, 2018, moved the
application aforesaid under Section 151 CPC for taking the written
statement on record and for condoning the delay in filing thereof. The only
ground pleaded in the application was, (i) that a new counsel for the
petitioner/wife entered appearance on 29th January, 2018; (ii) that the
petitioner/wife is working as Dak Peon with the District Court and the
daughter of the parties is suffering from Sugar and Thyroid and the
petitioner/wife is taking care of the said daughter; and, (iii) that the
petitioner/wife was not aware of the requirement to file written statement
within a period of 90 days.

6. The respondent/husband contested the aforesaid application by filing
the reply, inter alia pleading (a) that the application had been filed after
three years of the date of first appearance of the petitioner/wife in the
aforesaid proceedings; (b) that the delay of two and a half years in filing the
written statement could not be condoned; (c) that it was on account of
repeated defaults of the petitioner/wife to file the written statement, that the
order striking off her defence was made; and, (d) that the delay on the part
of the petitioner/wife was intentional.

7. The application has been dismissed vide the impugned order,
reasoning (i) that the petitioner/wife was served with the notice of the
petition for dissolution of marriage on 25th October, 2014 and had put in
first appearance on 22nd May, 2015; (ii) that on 17th November, 2015 yet
another opportunity to file written statement subject to payment of costs of
Rs.1,000/- was granted; (iii) that the cost was not paid inspite of several

CM(M) 909/2018 Page 2 of 4
opportunities; (iv) that as there was continuous delay on the part of the
petitioner/wife in filing the written statement, the defence was struck off;
(v) that the application itself had been filed belatedly, on 30 th January,
2018, after nearly 11 months of the order of striking off of the defence; (vi)
that the only argument of the counsel for the petitioner/wife was that she
had been regularly appearing in the matter but her advocate did not brief
her correctly and when she engaged a new advocate, she was made aware
that her defence had been struck off; (vii) that the aforesaid argument of the
petitioner/wife was not fathomable; (viii) that the petitioner/wife, working
as a Dak Peon in the District Court, could have easily ascertained the nature
of the proceedings and about the steps required to be taken therein, if not
from her counsel, also from her colleagues in the District Court; (ix) that
the parties are in litigation for several years, before several foras including
under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and
prosecution of the respondent/husband under Sections 498A, 406 and 34 of
the IPC; (x) that no mileage could be taken by the petitioner/wife of the
only child of the parties being looked after by the petitioner/wife; (xi) that a
bare perusal of the order sheet showed that the petitioner/wife had been
granted substantive opportunities to file written statement and to contest the
petition for dissolution of marriage but in vain; and, (xii) that the
allegations against the previous counsel were vague.

8. The petitioner/wife, along with this petition, has not placed before
this Court the order sheet of the proceedings for dissolution of marriage and
the counsel for the petitioner/wife, when asked about the same, states that
the said dates have been set out in the impugned order. The inference is

CM(M) 909/2018 Page 3 of 4
that the petitioner/wife is not disputing the reasoning given in the impugned
order.

9. The only argument of the counsel for the petitioner/wife is that the
petitioner/wife was ailing. However, on enquiry, whether the
petitioner/wife throughout the same period was on leave from her
employment in the District Court, the answer is in the negative. This again
shown the casual manner in which the proceedings are being pursued.

10. No inference in exercise of jurisdiction under Article 227 of the
Constitution of India is required with the impugned order.

11. Dismissed.

RAJIV SAHAI ENDLAW, J.

AUGUST 10, 2018
bs

CM(M) 909/2018 Page 4 of 4

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