The Bombay High Court has allowed a plea by a woman seeking transfer of divorce proceedings filed by her estranged husband before the family court at Nashik to Pune and observed that the wife’s convenience has to be preferred over that of the husband.
In her application, the woman reasoned that she cannot travel alone to conduct the matter in Nashik since she is staying with her elderly parents in Pune. Since her father has recently undergone eye surgery and is facing other ailments, there is no male member of the family to accompany or escort her from Pune to Nashik for the proceedings and the same should be transferred from Nashik to Pune, she requested.
However, considering the respondent-husband’s health condition, the court granted him liberty to appear before the family court in Pune through video conferencing on dates where his physical presence is not required.
A single-judge bench of Justice Abhay Ahuja on September 8 observed that “in a country like India, important decisions such as marriage, divorce are still taken with the guidance and blessings of elders in the family”. The judge added that “for a woman to travel alone for the proceedings to a Court where the fate of her marriage is going to be decided without any family member would definitely be a matter of concern and cause not only physical inconvenience but also emotional and psychological inconvenience.”
The high court noted, “respondent-husband would also no doubt be undergoing panic and anxiety, as per past Supreme Court judgement, however, in these types of matters, it is the convenience of the wife that is to be preferred over the convenience of the husband.”
Advocate Hitesh P Vyas for the applicant-wife submitted that the couple got married in 2019, and there were no issues between the two for three-and-a-half years. Vyas claimed that in October 2022, she was compelled to leave her matrimonial home due to differences of opinion.
The applicant argued that while the estranged husband dropped her at her parents’ house in Pune, he had assured her he would bring her back within a week and believing the promise, she came to stay in Pune with her parents.
As per the application, in February this year, the husband filed a petition for dissolution of marriage before the family court in Nashik, which the applicant did not know until the husband’s cousin came to Pune in April this year to hand over her belongings.
After that, the applicant issued notice to the husband seeking a decree of divorce alleging certain wrongs committed by him, and if he wanted to resolve the issue amicably, she would seek a decree by mutual consent upon conditions, including permanent maintenance of Rs 1 crore.
Vyas denied allegations made by the estranged husband of his client and sought transfer of divorce proceedings from Nashik to Pune “in interest of justice”.
However, advocate Varsha Pichaya for the husband opposed the application and said that her client’s condition had deteriorated due to alleged harassment and mental cruelty from the applicant and that she had willingly left her matrimonial home in Nashik.
Pichaya also said the applicant had travelled to Nashik in June this year to enquire about the proceedings, and she can continue to attend the same.
While allowing the wife’s application, the court clarified that its observations should not influence the trial and that the family court in Pune should decide the divorce plea on merits.