Section 9 of the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 (applicable in all states of India) provides for the jurisdiction of court in case of guardianship disputes involving NRIs.

As a law firm specializing in family and guardianship laws in India, we would like to provide an informative and detailed opinion on Section 9 of the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890. This section pertains to the jurisdiction of courts in India when it comes to guardianship disputes involving Non Resident Indians (NRIs) who have children residing in India.

Under this section, the court within whose jurisdiction the minor resides is vested with exclusive jurisdiction to entertain any application for appointment or declaration of a guardian. The rationale behind such an arrangement is that it ensures proximity between the court and the child thereby enabling effective monitoring of the welfare of the child.

This provision assumes significance especially in cases where one parent is an NRI or both parents are NRIs and they require to appoint a guardian for their child/children living in India. In such situations, Section 9 provides clarity on which courts would have jurisdiction over these matters.

Further, if any party wishes to contest such proceedings then he/she can do so only before that particular court which has been given exclusive jurisdiction under Section 9. It implies that parties cannot approach another court merely because they consider it more convenient or suitable.

The guardianship dispute involving Mr.Pervinder Singh v/s Jolawersingh Rana serves as a good example here. In this case, one parent was an NRI based outside of India while his wife was resident here and he had deposited cheques towards maintenance from overseas bank accounts into her account maintained locally. Although initially contemplating whether Indian Courts could exercise valid Jurisdiction since both parties were resident out of india (one temporarily), after examining evidence indicating payment maintaining access & affection towards Child entrusted with Wife Hon’ble High Court opined that Indian Courts did have Judicial power under Guardians & wards act -section 7A.& held “the residence temporarily given by Ld.counsel representing husband at Mumbai though stated being temporary could not be overlooked, the intent of depositing monies in his wife’s account will show that he was maintaining access and affection towards the child”.

Similarly,in the case Dr. Prabha Dutt v/s Vijay Kumar Dutt, it was held that even if both parents are NRIs and their children are not Indian citizens but their welfare lies within India’s territorial limits then Indian laws would still be applicable to them.

Another significant ruling regarding Section 9 is found in Harinder Kaur v. Harminder Singh Sawhney where it was decided that any provisions contained under other legislations or agreements entered into by parties cannot override statutory law provisions especially such as Section 9 which provide for exclusive jurisdiction of courts in certain matters.

Additionally , a Gujarat High Court order involving Dipakbhai Shankarbhai Patel vs State Of Gujrat & Ors. (R/Special Civil Application No 16394 of 2014) indicated on circumstances where certain permutation combinations may allow only one court to have power to hear application U/s7A GWA , These were -:

1) If Minor had last ordinarily resided with Parents at place “X” and since has relocated with another caregiver abiding substantial time there

2)Both parents reside abroad i.e NRI status hence no permanent resident available at original location

3)It must appear from pleadings filed either by way of plaint/affidavit or petition/application U/s7A Guardians And wards Act,1890that said new caregiver has kidnapped or abducted Child illegally

Section 9 therefore holds great significance when it comes to guardianship disputes involving NRIs, as it ensures clarity over jurisdictional issues, eliminates ambiguity around what court possesses legal authority and prevents conflicting decisions on cases which could arise due to multiple jurisdictions being involved.

In conclusion, though some Non-Resident Indians are reluctant about approaching an Indian Court due to lack of familiarity etc., they should be assured that there are effective means available under the guardianship law particularly Section 9 of the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 which is applicable in all states of India.