The Family Court on Wednesday granted divorce to a daughter of a wealthy businessman from a Manchester-based NRI, after he refused to consummate their marriage despite being married for two years. Despite repeated attempts to save the marriage, the groom said he married the woman only to please his parents.
Judge S D Tulankar of the Bandra Family Court granted Priya Makhija a divorce and concluded, “After marriage [Manish Sharma] avoided her company and avoided physical intimacy... she was ill-treated by the respondent and his family members, who abused and insulted her. This version of the petitioner remains unchallenged and unshaken as [Sharma] failed to remain present before the court.”
Priya Makhija (29), a resident of Juhu, was introduced to her future husband Manish Sharma (37) on a business trip to the UK in April 2008, as a prospective bride. Sharma readily agreed to the alliance following which Makhija then returned to India. The couple stayed in touch over telephone and emails.
Later that June, Makhija and her parents visited Sharma in the UK and fixed their engagement for July 11. Once Sharma and his parents came to India, the engagement ceremony took place at a five star hotel, for which all the expenses were borne by Makhija’s father. The couple and their parents then went for a holiday to Goa.
Makhija once again flew to Manchester on an 8-day visit to spend time with her future husband for his birthday. Upon her return, she noticed a significant ‘change in his behaviour’, as Sharma reduced his communication with her to just once a week and that too only for a few minutes. Sharma’s mother and sister visited India twice and the expenses of their stays were borne by the Makhija family. Concerned about the diminishing communication, between her and her future husband, Makhija broached the topic with Sharma’s mother, only to be told that he was ‘busy’.
The couple finally tied the knot on February 12, 2009, at a temple in Bandra. Sharma arrived in Mumbai just three days before the ceremony was to take place and thus skipped all the pre-wedding functions. The court judgment recorded, “The wedding took place in a grand manner as demanded by [Sharma’s] family and the reception was held in Goa on February 12, 2009. All expenses were incurred by the [Makhija] family. The petitioner stated that she started sensing the greedy nature of the respondent’s family, but kept quiet.”
After the marriage, Sharma and his family decided to extend their stay in India and once again the their expenses for a visit to the Tirupati Balaji temple were borne by the Makhijas who paid for hotel and airfare. The newlywed couple departed for UK to settle down with Makhija’s in-laws after the marriage was registered.
The couple then flew to the US for a two-week long honeymoon. But during the trip, Sharma refused to consummate the marriage. He also refused to provide Makhija with any money, instead asked her get her money from her father. He told her that he was no longer interested in her and wanted a divorce. Upon their return to the UK, Sharma continued to neglect Makhija. She was allegedly disallowed from communicating with any of her family members in India.
The court order noted, “Thus, the petitioner was jailed in the house as a domestic servant. The respondent used to lead a lavish life, but he was not providing for the basic needs of the petitioner.” During the reception organised for the couple in Manchester in March 2009, Makhija told her parents of her husband’s behaviour. Her in-laws admitted there had been a mistake on the part of their son, and it would not happen again. But Sharma’s misbehaviour continued. Makhija even caught Sharma sending messages to other women.
When the time came to apply for a permanent residency, Sharma’s family refused to help Makhija. She later learnt that her husband had withdrawn her application from the UK consulate. She alleged that Sharma and her in-laws would constantly ask for money from her father, which he continued to provide hoping to keep her marriage alive. Both the families then tried to reconcile the couple at a meeting in Dubai in May 2010. Here, Sharma admitted he had only married Makhija to pacify his parents, and was not at all interested in her.
(Names of the litigants changed to protect identities)