In a significant ruling, the Bombay High Court clarified that a wedding reception does not constitute a part of marriage rituals, affecting the jurisdictional authority of a Family Court in Divorce Petitions.

"There is no dispute between the parties that all the rituals of the marriage took place on 7 June, 2015 at Jodhpur, Rajasthan. In Mumbai, there was only a wedding reception on 11 June, 2015. In my view, there can’t be any doubt that a wedding reception can’t be called as a part of marriage ritual," the Court observed.

The Bench of Justice Rajesh S. Patil set aside an Order by a Family Court in Mumbai, asserting that the Court where the marriage ceremony occurred holds jurisdiction over Divorce Proceedings, rather than where the reception took place.

The Court was dealing with a case wherein a couple married was married Rajasthan's Jodhpur in 2015 under Hindu Vedic rites, followed by a reception in Mumbai. The husband subsequently filed for Divorce in Mumbai, citing the reception as grounds for jurisdiction.

However, the Court emphasized that a reception does not hold the same significance as the marriage ceremony itself, and therefore, the Family Court in Mumbai lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.

Highlighting that the couple's last shared residence was in the USA, not 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 have no jurisdiction, under section 19 (iii) of Hindu Marriage Act, to entertain Divorce Petition in Mumbai. The impugned order is quashed and set aside," it said.

Consequently, the High Court nullified the Family Court's order, ruling in favour of setting aside the Divorce plea's jurisdictional claim.

The couple's marital journey began with a wedding in Jodhpur in 2015, followed by a reception in Mumbai four days later. They briefly stayed in Mumbai before relocating to the USA, where they encountered marital issues and eventually began living separately in October 2019. Subsequently, the husband initiated Divorce proceedings in Mumbai in August 2020, alleging cruelty.

In response, the wife filed a Divorce Petition in a US court, still pending for hearing. She also contested the jurisdiction of the Mumbai Family Court, leading to her appeal before the Bombay High Court.

The Court opined, "The last residing together of the couple would be U.S.A., and it can’t be Mumbai, where the couple briefly stayed for less than 10 days immediately after marriage, in the home of parents of Husband, hence the Family Court in Mumbai will have no jurisdiction, under sub-section (iii) of 19 of Hindu Marriage Act, to entertain Divorce Petition in Mumbai."

While setting aside the impugned Order, the Court ordered, "Rule, is made absolute. The impugned judgment and order dated 21 April, 2022 is quashed and set aside and the application Exhibit - 16 filed by the wife is allowed."

Cause Title: A v. B


Petitioner: Advocates Gayatri Gokhale, Sneha Jethwa

Respondent: Advcoates Siddharth Shah, Riya Rele

Click here to read/download the Order