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Wedding reception not part of marriage rituals: Bombay High Court

In a landmark ruling, the Bombay High Court clarified that a wedding reception is not part of marriage rituals, affecting the jurisdiction of a family court in divorce petitions.

“There is no dispute between the parties that all the rituals of the marriage took place on June 7, 2015 at Jodhpur, Rajasthan. In Mumbai, there was only a wedding reception on June 11, 2015. In my opinion, there cannot be any doubt that a wedding reception cannot be organized as part of a wedding ritual.” the Court noted.

The bank of Judge Rajesh S. Patil quashed an order by a family court in Mumbai, which held that the court where the wedding ceremony took place had jurisdiction over divorce proceedings, and not where the reception took place.

The Court was hearing a case in which a married couple got married in 2015 in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur under Hindu-Vedic rituals, followed by a reception in Mumbai. The husband subsequently filed for divorce in Mumbai, citing receipt as a ground of jurisdiction.

However, the Court emphasized that a reception does not have the same meaning as the wedding ceremony itself, and therefore the Family Court in Mumbai had no jurisdiction to hear the case.

The Court emphasized that the couple’s last shared residence was in the United States and not in Mumbai. The Court concluded that the Mumbai Family Court could not entertain the divorce petition under Section 19 (iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act. “The Family Court in Mumbai will not have jurisdiction under Section 19 (iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act to entertain a divorce petition in Mumbai. The impugned order is quashed and set aside,” it said.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the Family Court’s order and ruled in favor of quashing the divorce plea’s jurisdictional claim.

The couple’s honeymoon started with a wedding in Jodhpur in 2015, followed by a reception in Mumbai four days later. They briefly stayed in Mumbai before moving to the US, where they experienced marital problems and eventually began living separately in October 2019. Subsequently, the husband initiated divorce proceedings in Mumbai in August 2020, alleging cruelty.

In response, the woman filed a divorce petition in a US court, which is still pending. She also challenged the jurisdiction of the Mumbai Family Court, which led to her appeal to the Bombay High Court.

The Court opined, “The couple’s last place of residence would be the United States, and it cannot be Mumbai, where the couple stayed at the husband’s parents’ house for less than ten days shortly after the wedding. Therefore, the Family Court at Mumbai will have no jurisdiction, under sub-section (iii) of 19 of the Hindu Marriage Act, to entertain a divorce petition in Mumbai.”

While the court annulled the contested decision, it ruled: “Rule is made absolute. The impugned judgment and order dated April 21, 2022 is set aside and set aside and the petition filed by the wife Exhibit – 16 is allowed.”

Cause title: A v. B

Appearance:-

Petitioner: Advocates Gayatri Gokhale, Sneha Jethwa

Respondent: Lawyer Siddharth Shah, Riya Rele

Click here to read/download the Order