Wedding Reception Not Part of Marriage Rituals: Bombay High Court

Bombay HC rules wedding reception not part of marriage rituals; jurisdiction lies where ceremony occurred. Husband's divorce plea dismissed.

The Bombay High Court recently overturned a family court's decision regarding the jurisdiction to hear a divorce petition, emphasizing that a wedding reception does not constitute part of the marriage ritual. Single-judge Justice Rajesh Patil set aside the family court's order, asserting that the court where the marriage ceremony occurred holds jurisdiction over divorce proceedings, not where the reception took place.

"In my view, there can’t be any doubt that a wedding reception can’t be called as a part of marriage ritual," Justice Patil remarked in his April 15 order.

The dispute arose when a couple, who had married according to Hindu Vedic rites in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, in 2015, encountered marital issues leading to separation. The husband subsequently filed for divorce in Mumbai, where the wedding reception had been hosted, citing cruelty under the Hindu Marriage Act.

However, Justice Patil noted that the couple's last shared residence was in the USA, not Mumbai, where they briefly stayed for only 10 days following their marriage. Consequently, the family court in Mumbai lacked jurisdiction to entertain the divorce petition.

"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," the High Court ruled.

The wife, represented by Advocates Gayatri Gokhale and Sneha Jethwa, contested the husband's divorce plea's competency before the family court, leading to the High Court's intervention.

Notably, the wife had also filed a divorce petition in a USA court, which remains pending. The ruling underscores the importance of clarifying jurisdictional matters in divorce proceedings, especially concerning cross-border marriages.

Advocates Siddharth Shah and Riya Rele represented the husband in the legal proceedings.