I am sure many of you know me from my time at the photo store in Forest Hill Village, Toronto.
Each one of you opened up your lives, your joys, your achievements, your grievances, the treasures you valued, your children, grand-children and parents. I became a part of your family and knew intimately the happenings in your world. I journeyed with you on your childbirths, on holidays, your bar mitzvahs, your Hanukkah, your soccer games, graduations, birthdays and surprise anniversaries parties! Thank you for making me part of your lovely and lively lives.
Now I am single-handedly fighting a legal battle against a corrupt judicial system in India while coping with my psychologically traumatized daughter and I come to you to help me in my testing times…
What happened - The background story
In 2006 my estranged husband took heavy loans in Canada to start a photo business in Forest Hill Village and in less than 30 days he abandoned me with the loan and business. He deserted my minor daughter and me without any prior information and disappeared. By doing so he left me on the verge of bankruptcy, so I left my lucrative software job in Waterloo and stepped in to take charge of the photo business, thus ensuring that the franchisor does not take over the business leaving me with the loan. It was a trade I had no knowledge of and spent hours learning to work the business. And my young daughter faced the brunt of the matter, as I had to pull her out of school and uproot her from familiar surroundings in Waterloo and bring her to Toronto overnight. In all, due to my husband’s sudden action, I lost financial stability, a career and a peaceful family life.
Canadian jurisdiction Vs Hindu Law
Subsequently to defend myself from any further damage from my husband, I filed for divorce in Canada. But my husband responded by sending a letter to the Superior Court of Justice, Toronto, Family Courts, stating
1.) that the Canadian courts do not have jurisdiction to pronounce divorce for a marriage solemnized under Hindu Laws on Indian soil and governed by the Hindu Marriage Act
2.) that he was not submitting to the jurisdiction of the Canadian courts
3.) that he will not be bound by any exparte Canadian order and
4.) that he was filing for divorce and custody in the Chennai Family Court under Indian laws and jurisdiction. Despite those objections the Canadian court ordered divorce and custody while the same matter was being contested in India under Hindu law.
Need to submit to the Indian legal proceedings
Fearing that the India courts would grant custody to my husband and I would be set exparte if I did not appear in the Indian proceedings and that my dowry, immovable and movable assets in India would also pass to my husband in an exparte order, I submitted myself to the Indian jurisdiction. Besides as per Hindu laws, my daughter is the rightful heir to half the inherited ancestral assets worth some $10 million and which was at stake too with her custody battle. So I made short annual trips for the suit hearings and appointed lawyers and a power of attorney to represent me. In the meanwhile I ran the photo business in Toronto and raised my daughter in the same neighbourhood. Being an excellent student, my daughter secured scholarships at school and participated in a variety of activities.
As a single mom, during the day, with all your help and assistance I ran the business in the Forest Hill Village, developed a strong customer base, became part of the BIA and encourage my daughter through school and extra-curriculars. Behind the scenes, each night, I continued to battle the legal matters in India.
Corrupt judicial system and unethical practices
But as the years flew, my husband started to bribe my Indian lawyers one after the other, and my costs started to fly up. And I had to spend time and money for longer trips to India. My husband started to pay off even the judges, both in the Chennai family court as well as in the upper Madras High Court.
1.) In one instance, a lady lawyer represented me and in my absence her business partner/husband represented my husband, well against professional ethics.
2.) Our suit never came up for hearing even after repeated requests and documented complaints. It came to point where I had to appear before the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court and mentioned the discrepancies so that the suits would be listed and heard.
3.) At another time, the Family Court judge asked all other litigants and lawyers to leave the court hall and threatened me to sign and leave without anything. In other words she was running a Kangaroo court and tried to divert the regular court process.
4.) For years many of my petitions have been hidden and not taken up despite repeated written requests.
5.) Many times due to the lack of funds, I have appeared as Party-in-person and have been bullied by prominent lawyers assisting my husband.
6.) Documents and suit files went missing for months and even the Madras High Court vigilance did not have answers for it. My estranged husband was bribing the court clerks and asking them to hide files, pull documents out, pre-date files and number false documents.
Alienate his own child and cut off communication
Meanwhile my daughter was trying to connect with her father for many years. Despite the advancement in communication technology with the arrival of Skype, Face Chat, Whatsapp, email, etc., my husband cut off all calls and all means of communication with his daughter. As a young adolescent, feeling the lack of intimate family support, especially her father, she started sinking deeper and deeper and falling rapidly into depression. Due to privacy laws I cannot go deeper into her current health conditions and I hope you will appreciate that.
Winding up my Canadian business
Unable to leave my daughter behind in Canada in the given condition and with her general health also deteriorating, I was forced to wind up my business in Forest Hill, take my daughter out of school and return to India to pursue the legal battle in 2012.
Move to India
Arriving in India we had no proper accommodation and were forced out of each rental due to my husband threatening the landlords from keeping us. We moved around and finally my daughter became more sick and we could not afford the mounting legal expenses, accommodation, daily expenses and medical expenses.
Back to Canada
Having been raised in Canada, my daughter was unable to adjust to Indian settings and decided to fly back and study in Canada. She took up subsidized accommodation, finished school and got accepted into Trinity College, U of T on a scholarship. But her depression increased and she could not continue through without my support. Hence I returned back to Canada with no place to live, no job and no assistance.
No support payment in 12 years
Thus far the Indian court has ordered payment for support, which even by Canadian standards was substantial and my husband appealed the same to have the order squashed. Till date it has not been reordered. A paltry amount of CDN $10,000 had been handed out as temporary amount till support payment is decided once again. In the interim, my husband was forcing the Indian Courts to close all suits as exparte without considering the needs and health conditions of his daughter.
Twist in the tale - bigamy
After claiming for eleven years that a divorce can only be granted in an Indian Court under Hindu Laws and dragging me and my daughter across continents, leaving us without income for basics such as shelter, food and medical expenses, my estranged husband has married another woman while divorce is still pending in an Indian Court. This leads to bigamy and I am at this time fighting this out as well.
Dishonest law enforcement officials
I have made several complaints to the local police to no avail:
1.) In 2013 I was assaulted within the court premises and again in 2016 when approaching a property registration office where my husband was illegally transferring ancestral land. Both times I made formal complaints to the police and they did not take any action on my husband. Walking inside court premises during the day is more unsafe than walking outside in the dark.
2.) In 2014, he tried to kidnap our daughter and even that complaint was dropped by the police.
3.) When he committed bigamy, the matter was reported to the police and they did not charge him as per regulations. Hence a court direction was made to the police and that too was ignored by the local police. Now a contempt order has been slapped on the police and I am waiting to see if they will atleast now charge my husband.
After lots of medical assistance and counselling for my daughter, we have now moved back to India and my daughter is now living with me in a one room unit with a bath and a shared kitchen. And here in India, unlike Canada with no medical insurance we are both struggling for basic health care facilities, psychiatric counselling and medicines.
We are fighting a battle on all fronts because of the corrupt judiciary and law enforcement officers.
We need money to pay the legal and court fees. After fighting the legal battle for the last twelve years we are actually at a point of getting some justice!
Over the years we have borrowed from friends, family and well-wishers and have slowly exhausted all our resources. I am unable leave my daughter unattended for long periods and hence cannot take up any full-fledged job as well.
Hence to fight the corrupt legal system and to get Dia her rightful inheritance and most of all, support payment which has been pending for the last 12 years and to enable her to have a quiet life with basic medical attention and simple accommodation I need your help.
Help Dia get justice & good health!
1.) Our legal expenses and court fees, including outstandings amount close to $30,000, some of which has been due for a more than a year. In many suits I have represented as Party-in-Person, but frankly I lack the expertise of a lawyer and the many judges do not given much consideration when a litigant, especially a woman, represents herself. Hence only on hiring expert lawyers I can expedite the litigation to some extent. It has also come to a point where I may have to approach the Supreme Court of India.
2.) Our accommodation costs are close to $15,000, as rent deposit unlike Canada is for 10 months here.
3.) Dia’s medical expenses including prescription medicines, counselling and consultations are $12,000.
4.) Other expenses such as food, electricity, transport, etc. amount to $6,000.
In total $63,000 would be necessary for me to fight a legal battle not just against my estranged husband but also against the corrupt judicial system and bring my daughter back to proper health.
Please help me get justice for Dia!
- Judy librach
- Leeanne Weld
- Sharon Fogel
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