Although the marriage (of the litigants) was celebrated and divorced under French law, when it comes to the division of immovable property, especially that located in Pondicherry, only Indian civil law comes into force, a bench division of Judge T Raja and Judge D said Bharatha Chakravarthy.
In this regard, it ruled admissible an action for division brought before an Indian family court.
The issue relates to an appeal lodged by a man, challenging the order of the Pondicherry Family Court dated January 30, 2017 ruling in favor of his wife who requested the division of the properties belonging to the couple.
As their marriage falls under the community regime under French law, after the divorce, the property owned by the couple during their marriage would be shared equally between the two.
According to the husband, in accordance with French civil law, in order to obtain the properties, the wife must apply to the “notaries of France” within three months of the dissolution of the marriage. Failing this, the partition ordered during the divorce would become null.
Since the divorce was pronounced in 2005 by a French court, there has been an eight-year delay in requesting the partition. He further argued that since marriage and divorce were governed by French law, an action for partition filed in the Family Court of Pondicherry was not admissible.
Refusing to agree, the court said: “The manner of effecting the partition is a procedural rule and therefore in matters of procedural rules the law of the forum (rule of the land) will apply.”
There is no “notary” system under the land rule. Unlike Indian law, where there are separate laws dealing with substantive law and procedural law, the French Civil Code is a compendium of all of their civil law. Therefore, French law would not apply,” the judges said.
In addition, the “notaries of France” do not have territorial jurisdiction to proceed with the division of properties located in India since all the properties were located only in Pondicherry, the court added.