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Universal Divorce: Indian Supermodel's Case to Proceed in Mumbai


Ujjwala Raut’s modeling career began at age 17, and she won a coveted "Look of the Year" prize in 1996. Since that time, she has appeared on runways all over the world and on magazine covers from ELLE to Time.

In 2001, she met Craig Maxwell Sterry, a British citizen and fellow fashion model, 16 years older than Raut. The courtship began and ended in New York, where the two married in 2004, at the home of musician David Bowie and Raut’s fellow supermodel, Iman. Despite a storybook wedding, the marriage faltered, and by 2007, the couple had separated, and Raut is currently filing for divorce.

In the divorce petition, Raut alleges that her husband has subjected her to "mental cruelty and misery" and has not sought to earn an income since the marriage. Despite being married in America, Raut has sought her divorce in Mumbai, India, a point that Sterry recently challenged.

Sterry argued that since he was not a resident of Mumbai, the court had no jurisdiction under India’s Foreign Marriages Act. He asked the judge presiding over the case to throw it out. Sterry believed that since the marriage took place in New York, the divorce would also need to take place in the United States.

Raut argued that Indian law required only that both parties live in India, and she produced tax documents to prove her residency in the city where the divorce petition has been filed.

The divorce court judge assigned to the case agreed with Raut, and held that as long as one of the two spouses was an Indian citizen, which Raut is, and provided one of the two lives in India, the Mumbai court could hear the case. The divorce hearing is scheduled to begin on July 2.

Raut, who is now 30, says that she was "young and naïve" when Sterry pursued her in 2001, agreeing to marry him because of his "charm." Shortly after the marriage, according to Raut, Sterry began living off the supermodel’s "hard-earned money," engaging in "callous and irresponsible behavior" that she endured for several years, "in the flickering hope that her husband would realize that his behavior has caused her pain and agony."

After three years of hoping in vain, Raut filed for divorce.

Sterry currently lives at one of the supermodel’s homes in Goa, India. He has not responded to the allegations of "cruelty" against him, and is opposed to the divorce. Now that his plea to have it thrown out has been denied, the former model is expected to contest the divorce on other grounds when the hearing begins later this summer.

Source: The Times of India

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