The Bombay High Court while allowing a transfer petition in a divorce case has observed that not only physical but also emotional, psychological inconvenience for a lady to travel alone has to be considered.

The Court further allowed the transfer of a divorce case from Family Court at Nashik to the Family Court at Pune holding that in transfer matters convenience of the wife will take precedence. The application was filed by the wife (applicant) under Section 24 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC) seeking to transfer the divorce proceedings initiated by the husband (respondent) in the Family Court at Nashik to the Family Court at Pune.

A Bench of Justice Abhay Ahuja held, “For a lady 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 applicant and respondent got married in Nashik in February 2019 and registered their marriage. In October 2022, due to marital issues, the applicant left the matrimonial home and went to Pune.

On February 23, 2023, the respondent filed a divorce petition in Nashik, which the applicant was unaware of until April 6, 2023. The applicant, through her advocate, issued a notice to the respondent in April 2023, alleging matrimonial wrongs and offering to seek a mutual consent divorce with certain conditions. The respondent replied to the notice in May 2023.

Since the applicant had not received the summons for the divorce petition, she went to Nashik in June 2023 to verify the status and obtained a copy of the petition.

Advocate H.P. Vyas appeared for the Applicant and Advocate Varsha Pichaya appeared for the Respondent.

It was submitted by applicant’s counsel that she being a lady litigant cannot travel alone for court proceedings due to residing with her parents in Pune, and her father's health issues.

The husband's counsel opposed the transfer, arguing that the wife's claim of inconvenience due to travel is invalid since she traveled to Nashik in June 2023. The husband also has panic/anxiety attacks and is under medical treatment.

The Court said that the convenience of the wife is to be considered in transfer cases, as per Supreme Court decisions. The Court added, “The respondent would also no doubt be undergoing panic and anxiety as referred to in the reply, however, as observed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in case of Rajani Kishor Pardeshi (supra) that in these type of matters, it is the convenience of the wife that is to be preferred over the convenience of the husband.”

The Court noted that the wife does not have any male family members who can accompany her to Nashik for court proceedings, given her father's health condition. The Court said that even though the wife traveled to Nashik once, her family's guidance and support are important in such matters. The Court said, “True that the respondent may have been suffering from panic/anxiety attacks since 2014 and may also be under the treatment, however, it is law settled by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in several decisions, with the most recent one being the case of N.C.V. Aishwarya Vs. A.S. Saravana Karthik Sha, SCC Online SC 1199 (2022) where the Hon’ble Supreme Court has considering the present day socio-economic paradigm in Indian Society held that it is the wife’s convenience which must be looked at while considering transfer.”

The Court acknowledged husband's health condition, and held, “However, keeping in mind the health condition of the respondent husband, it is made clear that the respondent husband would be at liberty to appear before the Family Court, Pune through video conferencing, upon an application made in that behalf to the said Family Court on dates where his physical presence is not required.”

The application was allowed, and the divorce proceedings were ordered to be transferred to the Family Court in Pune.

Cause Title: Devika Dhiraj Patil v. Dhiraj Sunil Patil, [2023:BHC-AS:26371]

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