While dismissing Leander Paes' plea in domestic abuse case, Mumbai court tells tennis ace that 'character assassination of Rhea Pillai itself is an act of domestic violence'
In a blow to tennis star Leander Paes, the Bandra Metropolitan Magistrate has dismissed his petition against lack of jurisdiction to hear a domestic abuse case filed by his estranged partner Rhea Pillai.
Paes had filed a petition in the court saying that since he and his partner Rhea Pillai were not married, she could not be a party to the custody petition on their daughter Aiyana. Paes’ other contention was that since there was no marriage, the Bandra court did not have jurisdiction to hear their case.
The judge dismissed Paes’ plea saying that since he and Rhea are the child’s parents, there is no need for them to be legally married, for Rhea to be a party to the petition.
Leander Paes with Rhea Pillai. File Pic
Judge Shende Kulkarni opined that under the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, Rhea is an aggrieved party and is entitled to be a party in the case. The court further observed that both Paes and Rhea have undisputedly agreed they were having a relationship with each other, they lived together and are having a daughter out of the relationship who was born in 2006.
In an 11-page judgement, the court said, “When we examined the provisions of the said act, it is evident that the term "aggrieved" person" is applicable to any woman in respective of her age and status whether unmarried or not and relation in any nature with a male adultator more particularly respondent.
The court stated that, “Allegations made by the respondent, Paes, about Rhea’s character are enough to show prima facie torture and harassment caused to her at the hands of the respondents -- Paes and his father.
The court also took serious note of the fact that Paes had on sworn affidavit given to the US Embassy accepted that Rhea is his wife. The court further stated that Paes himself admitted that they are having a daughter out of relationship, for which he has filed a petition for guardianship before the family court. “This admission by Paes simply shows that they both lived together for a considerable period and they were known as husband and wife to people at large when they lived together.
This judge said that the court was of the opinion that when a couple resided together for considerable span of time and had a child out of that relationship it showed that they had lived together having relation, ‘in nature of marriage.’ The court added that the documents filed on record also showed that the duo had represented themselves as husband and wife to various authorities.