MUMBAI — Some couples take their time before legally filing for divorce, even when they’ve already separated and moved into different homes. Actor Kiefer Sutherland, for example, didn’t file for divorce from Elizabeth Kelly Winn until about five years after they first separated (and the divorce wasn’t finalized for another four years). But few cases top the one of the Gangwanis. On August 6, the Bombay high court granted a divorce to the Indian couple — who had been separated for no less than 46 years.
According to The Times of India, Justices B.H. Marlapalle and Dilip Bhosale officially dissolved the union of Pohumal and Sita Gangwani, who married in February 1960 but separated only two years later. Despite the occasional spousal-support and property dispute, neither spouse ever bothered to file for divorce. During the last maintenance dispute, the couple mutually agreed to treat it as a divorce case.
Both parties are now senior citizens. Pohumal Gangwani had long started his own family with another woman, while Sita was living with her brother at the time of the divorce.
Sita Gangwali first filed for support in 1964, and her estranged husband was ordered to pay Rs 55 per month two years afterward. In 1981, the court raised the monthly support amount to Rs 200 retroactively from 1974 on. Mrs. Gangwali sought yet another raise in the maintenance amount in 2003, and the family court ordered Pohumal Gangwali to pay Rs 3,000 per month starting from May 2006. Mr. Gangwali was also forbidden to sell the couple’s Kahr matrimonial home — and directed to pay Rs 25,000 toward his wife’s legal fees.
Pohumal Gangwali then appealed the case to the high court, and the couple finally decided to settle the dispute under the Hindu Marriage Act as a divorce. In granting the dissolution, Mr. Gangwali agreed to pay his ex-wife a permanent spousal support of Rs 8 lakh in deferred payments.
Ironically, the two judges who permitted the Gangwalis’ divorce had, only two days before, ordered a divorced couple to reunite after they’d lived separately for ten years, the Times of India reported.
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