Leander Paes was home barely 20 days a year, when he wasn’t busy with tennis tours or affairs – this is what his estranged partner Rhea Pillai stated in court yesterday, during a hearing in the domestic violence (DV) case she filed against the tennis ace.
Pillai told the court that from 2007 till the filing of the DV petition, Paes would spend 10 months of the year on tennis tours. She added that even when he was not on tour, he would spend most of his time away from home. She explained that of the remaining 60 days, he would be away from home for 40 days.
Paes’ counsel Aabad Ponda confronted her about this claim, asking, “By this, do I take it you mean that he hardly spent 20 days at home a year and rest outside?”
To this, Pillai replied, “Yes, by various affairs stated as early as 2007.”
She also told the court that she was often in the dark about Paes’ whereabouts and companions.
Ponda also questioned Pillai about her claim in the DV petition that she and Paes had never had a happy marriage. Pillai said this was incorrect and added, “It was like any other marriage – there were good moments and not so good moments.”
Asked why she had claimed otherwise in her petition, Pillai said that she has made the statement in anger, upset about the abuse and humiliation she had been meted out by Paes and his father.
Pillai sent outside courtroom
During her cross-examination, Ponda also questioned her about her first marriage to Michael Vaz when she was 19 years old – this was before she married actor Sanjay Dutt. Pillai’s marriage with Vaz lasted four years, during which she lived in California, US. At the end of the period, they got divorced by mutual consent, she claimed.
Paes’ lawyer asked her if she remembers going to court, or to any Indian, American, British or any other authority for an official divorce, Rhea said she couldn’t recall. When Pillai’s lawyer raised objection to these questions, Ponda said he would explain the relevance once Pillai was sent out of the courtroom for some time.
As Pillai waited outside, Ponda claimed that he was asking these questions because she had not officially divorced Vaz, therefore, they were still married. Pillai was called back to the witness box and asked to produce the divorce order at the next hearing.
>> Pillai said that there was no alimony in her divorce from Vaz.
>> In the divorce from Sanjay Dutt, she received two flats in Bandra (measuring 750 sq ft each) and shares in two companies – Deja Vu Entertainment and Global Entertainment.
>> Paes lived with her in one of the flats for a year.
>> The other flat was rented out, and Pillai said the money was spent on Paes, his father, her and the children. This amounted to over Rs. 1 crore.