A Delhi family court has finalised the divorce between cricketer Shikhar Dhawan and his wife, Aesha Mukerji, citing Dhawan’s reports of mental cruelty by his spouse.
In the proceedings overseen by Judge Harish Kumar, a substantial number of allegations laid out by Dhawan against his former partner were acknowledged. The judgment recognised that Aesha imposed significant emotional distress and cruelty upon the cricketer.
The court concurred with Dhawan’s assertion that his mental peace was disrupted by Aesha’s demand that he live separately from his sole son for an extended period. Dhawan was granted visitation rights, enabling him to spend quality time with his son in both India and Australia, as well as to engage with him through video calls.
Aesha has been directed by the court to facilitate the child’s visits to India, including overnight stays with Dhawan and his family, especially during school holiday periods.
Dhawan’s grief was palpable in his plea, noting that while Aesha initially agreed to reside with him in India, she reneged on this commitment due to obligations to her ex-husband and her two daughters in Australia. The court acknowledged Dhawan’s pain, stemming from the separation from his son and the frustration caused by Aesha’s reluctance to establish a matrimonial home in India post-wedding, leading to a long-distance marital arrangement.
Legal attention was also drawn to Dhawan’s assertion regarding Aesha pressuring him into allocating her a 99% ownership stake in three Australian properties purchased with his finances. Furthermore, she insisted on being named a co-owner in two additional properties, the court highlighted. Aesha did not dispute these claims, thereby tacitly acknowledging Dhawan’s statements, and consequently, the court deemed them credible.
The court also addressed accusations that Aesha dispatched slanderous messages to numerous Indian cricket board officials, Indian Premier League (IPL) team owners, and fellow players. Despite her insistence that these communications were merely aimed at ensuring the punctuality of her monthly maintenance payments from Dhawan, the court determined that the messages were intended to exert pressure and tarnish the cricketer’s reputation.
Moreover, the court affirmed the allegation that Aesha initiated conflicts with Dhawan for ‘allocating time’ to accompany his COVID-19-stricken father to the hospital.
In early 2020, Aesha and their son travelled to India for an extended stay, while her daughters remained in Australia. Despite this, she demanded Dhawan to dispatch AU $15,500 per month (inclusive of mortgage payments) to her daughters, arguing that they were struggling financially. Additional school fees were also shouldered by Dhawan, which subsequently rose to AU $16,500, and eventually, AU $17,500 per month.
The court’s order was grounded in the principal belief that Shikhar Dhawan, being a celebrated international cricketer and a source of national pride, deserves to maintain a consistent and meaningful relationship with his son. It requested the Indian government to liaise with their Australian counterparts to facilitate regular visitations or permanent custody arrangements.