Representative illustration
Representative illustrationIllustration: Saai

Women struggles over divorce case jurisdiction, seeks help from HC

This was one of several family dispute cases filed before the Madras High Court where the women are forced to approach the court seeking transfer, noting that it was not easy for them to travel to the court situated near their husband’s residence for proceeding with divorce petitions.

CHENNAI: In a recent verdict, Justice SM Subramaniam of the Madras High Court ordered the transfer of a marriage dissolution petition from the Poonamallee sub-court to the file of the family court at Tiruchy, after the petitioner, Kavitha, an unemployed woman with a 1-month-old child to look after, explained the difficulties she was facing to come to Poonamallee frequently to attend the case proceedings.

This was one of several family dispute cases filed before the Madras High Court where the women are forced to approach the court seeking transfer, noting that it was not easy for them to travel to the court situated near their husband’s residence for proceeding with divorce petitions.

Among these hundreds of cases is that of Karthiga* of Hosur, who got married to Murugan* from Salem. Two years later, their marriage hit a tough spot after differences of opinion. She returned to her maternal house in Hosur with their daughter, and Murugan filed a divorce petition in a court in Salem.

“As I have no income and have to take care of my child and elderly parents, I could not travel to Salem. I want my case to be heard in Hosur,” she informed the court. Considering her plea, Justice Subramaniam passed a direction in her favour and transferred the case from Salem to Hosur court.

Explaining the procedure, Madras High Court advocate Ajitha said if both husband and wife resided in the same district, they can file a petition before the district court to transfer the case. “If it is inter-district, there is no other option than approaching the High Court,” the advocate told DT Next.

“There is no rule mandating either husband or wife to file the divorce case at a particular place. As per the Hindu Marriages Act, 1955, the divorce petition can be filed at the husband’s place, place of occurrence of marriage or place where the couple lastly ran the family,” advocate Ajitha noted.

Ajitha pointed out an order of the Supreme Court passed by the bench of justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and justice UU Lalit in 2017 in Krishnaveni Nigam Vs Harish Nigam.

“The apex court issued direction to make video conference arrangement to hear divorce cases so that travelling and financial issues will not happen against one of the parties. The judges also noted that if it is necessary to appear in a court which is far away from the wife’s place, then the husband should pay the cost of travel and lodging. Interestingly, the order was later overturned after a review application was filed,” the advocate noted.

It is an automatic issue that has to be dealt with only through the district court or the High Court. “Pertaining to the jurisdiction of the divorce cases, an amendment was made recently in favour of the woman. Either it is the woman’s maternal house, or, if it is away from the husband’s or mother’s places, the case proceedings could be conducted in a court near where she is living,” Ajitha explained.

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