Edinburgh sheriff divorced by wife while in India on holiday

Dr Raj Jandoo was the first Asian member of the Faculty of Advocates. Picture taken in July 1991.
Dr Raj Jandoo was the first Asian member of the Faculty of Advocates. Picture taken in July 1991.
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A former Edinburgh sheriff whose wife divorced him without his knowledge while he was on holiday in India has asked a judge to scrap the ruling.

Lawyer Raj Jandoo, who was the country’s first Asian advocate, said he returned from a three-month trip to learn his 49-year-old wife Nerinder Kaur had been granted a ‘quickie’ divorce.

Mr Jandoo, from Edinburgh, has now taken the case to the Court of Session to have the decree of divorce scrapped and have the couple declared as still legally married.

However, his former wife has already remarried, meaning she could be left open to accusations of bigamy if his case proves successful.

The 60-year-old, who was once tipped to be Scotland’s first black judge, said he had no interest in continuing the relationship, but insisted they had financial matters to sort out and a quickie divorce - known as simplified procedure - was not appropriate.

Following a hearing, judge Lord Woolman said he was minded to grant Mr Jandoo’s request, but added matters were complicated by his wife having remarried.

He said cancelling the divorce would leave her in “legal limbo” as she “cannot be married to two men at the same time”.

The judge has instead given the lawyer, who led an inquiry into the handling of the 1998 murder of waiter Surjit Singh Chhokar, and his former wife three months to come to an agreement.

The court heard the couple met in 2010 through an online dating agency and married in December 2012.

Shortly before the marriage, Mr Jandoo transferred two neighbouring flats, which he owned in Edinburgh, into Miss Kaur’s name. They were worth £180,000 and £56,700.

He told the court he made these property transfers to show his “love and commitment to her”, but insisted they were not “outright gifts” and he intended them to be part of the matrimonial assets.

The couple split within three months of their wedding day.

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Miss Kaur first sought a simplified divorce in May 2015, but her application was refused by a sheriff.

She was granted a divorce in February 2016 at Dunfermline Sheriff Court while Mr Jandoo was in India.

He said he did not receive emails and letters about the case as he was out of the country and was unable to challenge the decision.

In a written ruling, Lord Woolman expressed sympathy with Mr Jandoo and said he had suffered “despair, distrust and desolation” following the breakdown of his marriage.

He said: “The pursuer emphatically does not want to resume his marriage, yet he seeks to set aside the decree.

“He does so because he seeks an order for financial provision. He contends that there was a dispute about their finances at the time of the divorce. Accordingly, the simplified procedure was not appropriate.

“Further, he did not know that the action had been raised. If he had known, he would have taken steps to enter the process or to ensure that decree was not granted in absence.

“The defender has since remarried. She maintains that she properly followed all the required steps in the divorce action.

“She served the relevant documents on the pursuer and he failed to respond. He did not mark an appeal in time, or promptly raise the present proceedings.”

The judge said he would find in favour of Mr Jandoo, but gave them more time to reach an amicable agreement to avoid further legal complications.

He added: “The defender knew that six months earlier, the pursuer had told her that he would press his financial claims in the event of a divorce; that he was not residing at the address and that service at that address therefore might not be effective; and that his solicitors had indicated in January that he was still likely to insist on his financial claims and that the simplified procedure was inappropriate.

“By proceeding as she did, the defender deprived the pursuer of the opportunity to seek an order for financial provision.

“When the pursuer returned from India in March, the days of appeal had already expired.”

Mr Jandoo was convicted in 2005 in Stornoway of endangering an aircraft and frightening and alarming passengers by making references to a bomb during a flight to the Isle of Lewis. He was fined £2,500.

He also admitted two charges of breach of the peace in Edinburgh in 2013.

A further hearing in the case is due to take place in May.

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