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It’s an Indian wife’s fight to protect marriage’

MUMBAI: Their lives are getting enmeshed in a messy marital dispute, but for Joan Nayar, the 60-year-old stepmother of Liz Hurley’s former arm candy Arun Nayar, it is a fight “as an Indian wife” to protect her marriage and her matrimonial home.

“I have never deserted the respondent (Vinod Nayar),” she recently told the Esplanade court, which she had approached under the domestic violence law against her 71-year-old husband. “He is trying to gain sympathy by emphasizing his age, but he seems to not realize his age when it comes to having an extramarital affair with a woman 20 years his junior,” she said. Summing up primary grievance that many women may share, she added, “For a wife, her husband staying out of the house with another woman even for a day amounts to domestic violence and cruelty as there is nothing more traumatic for a woman than to see her husband having an affair with another woman.”

The ‘other woman’ whose name figures in the court papers is Julia Noakes, a British national and a single mother who worked as a psychological consultant with a top multinational bank in Mumbai till recently. Joan said it began last May when she was waiting for Vinod to join her in the UK where they go every summer. “He kept delaying the trip on the pretext of IPL matches. When I learnt he was in Lonavla, I knew something was amiss,” she said. “I arrived in June to a hostile husband who was angry that I disobeyed him,” she added.

The “final straw”, as Joan said in court, was when Vinod packed up his pillow, suitcase, crockery, silver, over 20 paintings, furniture and carpets to establish a house at Akash Ganga on Warden Road last November, where Noakes was staying and the rent of Rs 1.7 lakh was being paid by Nayar.

Efforts to contact Noakes failed.

Joan said Vinod had sent out Christmas and New Year’s Eve cards to friends in India and abroad with a picture of him and Noakes looking into each others eyes and signed ‘with love to you & yours, Vinod & Julia’. But in his reply, Vinod denied any extramarital affair with the British woman.

Denying that he had any intention of throwing Joan out of their sea-facing Marine Drive penthouse, he said, “Julia is just a friend who visits on certain occasions when I am unwell as my wife is never around for me.” He denied the allegations made by Joan.

Joan has a British residency but only Indian citizenship. She argued that Vinod “orchestrated” the media publicity around his son’s 2007 wedding as he wanted to disown them. He transferred the St James Court tenancy receipt to Joan’s name in December 2007 but reverted it to his name last June as the building belonges to the Nayars, Joan claimed. She moved the small causes court over this issue separately.

The court had asked for a report from the protection officer on the Nayars. “The report shows that the respondent (Vinod Nayar) has abused, mentally tortured and insulted the applicant (Joan) by not providing her with maintenance and using force to remove her from her residence,” the magistrate said and held that “domestic violence” has taken place, before passing an interim order to protect her right to reside. “The case will now be heard in August,” said Vinod’s lawyer Edith Dey.


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