Srija Choudhury
Asked September 08, 2014

contempt of court in a divorce case

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A settlement agreement out of a common property and assets of a divorced couple was made.A contempt of Court charge was made against the husband where he owed the wife her part. The husband has now left town without paying her half. Can the wife freeze his assets until her Contempt of Court case is heard?

Answer 1

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Sarthak Vidyarthi
Yes. The wife can approach the court for freezing of assets in pursuance of the Settlement Agreement. In case of a settlement between husband and wife, the agreement is formulated by the direction of the Court. Therefore the settlement arrived between the parties has to be honored, and any violation of that understanding will amount to contempt of Court. The Supreme Court has always been in favor of the two parties to agree upon a settlement under the guidance of the Court during divorce proceedings for the formulation of Settlement Agreement. The wife in such a situation is now required to apply for an injunction before the Court. Even if she does not apply for injunction, she has the option of initiating the contempt proceedings. Since the settlement will be covered under the contempt, the immovable property so involved will be automatically sealed on the basis of the principle of lis pendens Since the property will be attached in the contempt proceeding, no transfer or alienation of property can take place till the case is settled and her interests would be protected. Therefore the wife can apply for contempt proceeding to freeze the immovable property under the Settlement Agreement. References: Shikha Bhatia v. Gaurav Bhatia & Ors., being CONT. CAS(C) 274/2009, decided on 13.05.2010, B.S Joshi v. State of Haryana, (2003) 4 SCC 675; G.V Rao v. L.H.V Prasad, (2000) 3 SCC 693 Available on Shantabai v. State of Bombay, AIR 1958 SC 532 Section 52 of Transfer of property act, 1882 Hiranyabhusan v. Gouri Dutt, AIR 1943 Cal 227
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