The right to choose the location of a Court for adjudication of a matrimonial dispute lies with the wife, the High Court of Punjab & Haryana has said.
The HC bench of Justice Arun Monga made the observation while ordering the transfer of a matrimonial dispute from a Bhiwani Family Court to Mohali on the plea of a woman, a housewife.
“Only in a case where the wife is residing outside India, the husband can institute proceedings where he is residing. Whereas, the wife can, in any case, file a petition in a competent court, within whose local limits she is residing. The said right has been exclusively conferred on a wife so as to keep her convenience in mind in the matrimonial matters,” Justice Monga said while allowing her plea.
The woman had sought the transfer of the 2020 case to Mohali from Bhiwani, where she & her husband were last living when he moved the Court in the matrimonial dispute.
The man, who lives in the United States, had argued that his wife had sufficient means & could easily appear in the Bhiwani Court.
On the other hand, she had argued that she was currently living with her parents in Mohali, which was over 250km away from Bhiwani.
Her father was a heart patient, while her 2 brothers were married & living separately, she had told the Court, adding that there was no other male family member to accompany her to the Court hearings. Therefore, it was difficult for her to visit Bhiwani.
The Court observed that ethos as manifested under Article 51-A of the Constitution of India envisaged that it will be the fundamental duty of every Indian citizen to uphold the dignity of women.
In addition, as per Article 15 (3), power had also been conferred on the state to make special provisions for women & children. It was perhaps in this spirit that an amendment was inserted in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, whereby, in case the wife was the petitioner, she could pick a court near where she was residing on the date of presentation of the plea, it added.