Section 19 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (HMA) deals with the erritorial jurisdiction of Petitions filed under the Act.
This Section states the courts to which petition can be filed-
“The Court to which petition shall be presented. Every petition under this Act shall be presented to the district court within the local limits of whose ordinary original civil jurisdiction.
- The marriage was solemnized, or
- The respondent, at the time of the presentation of the petition, resides, or
- The parties to the marriage last resided together, or
[(iii a) in case the wife is the petitioner, where she is residing on the date of presentation of the petition, or]
- The petitioner is residing at the time of the presentation of the petition, in a case where the respondent is, at that time, residing outside the territories to which this Act extends, or has not been heard of as being alive for a period of seven years or more by those persons who would naturally have heard of him if he were alive.]
This jurisdiction applies to a marriage solemnized under this Act only.
District courts means in any area for which there is a civil court, that court, and in any other area the principal civil court of original jurisdiction, and includes, any other civil court which may be specified by the State Government by notification in the official Gazettes as having jurisdiction in respect of the matters dealt within this Act.
The word “resides” must mean actual place of residence and not a legal or constructing residence, it certainly does not connote the place of residence.
It enables the parties to file the divorce Petitions under any one of them as per their Convenience.
- It provides the option of filing the Petition where the marriage was solemnized.
- It states that the Petition is to be presented where the Respondent resides.
- If the Husband (Petitioner) files a Divorce Petition, then he would be required To file it before a Court where the Wife (Respondent) resides.
- It provides that a Petition can be filed where both the Husband and Wife last resided together.
In Mahadevi v. N.N. Sirathia, the court observed,
“Section 19 does not deal with the length of residence. Even a short residence may be sufficient to give the court jurisdiction to entertain petition. If the husband and wife had lived together in the same residence then they must be deemed to have resided together. The enjoyment of marital relation is not relevant factor in determining if the husband and wife had resided together. Thus the factum of residence and not the purpose of residence that is material.”
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