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Report No. 178

14. Section 19 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 Section 19 of the Hindu Marriage Act reads as follows:

"19. 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 civil jurisdictio.-

(i) the marriage was solemnized;

(ii) the respondent, at the time of the presentation of the petition, resides; or

(iii) the parties to the marriage last resided together; or

(iv) the petitioner is residing at the time of presentation of the petition, in 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.

[Emphasis supplied]

According to this section, a suit seeking any of the reliefs provided by the Act has to be filed either at the place (a) where the marriage was solemnized; (b) where respondent, resides or (c) where the married couple last resided together. A petition can be filed where the petitioner resides only when the respondent is residing outside India or who is not heard of 104 being alive for a period of seven years or more.

We are concerned with a situation where the wife who has been driven out or deserted, seeks a remedy under the Act. As the Act stands now, she cannot file a suit where she resides. More often than not, such deserted/driven out wife stays with her parents or brother or some other relative, who may not reside in any of the places mentioned in clauses (i), (ii) or (iii) of section 19. Sometimes, the marriage also does not take place at the bride's place but at the place where the husband resides or some other convenient place.

For a woman, in the said situation to go and file a suit in any of the places mentioned in the said three clauses means unbearable expense and inconvenience. The deserted woman has to travel long distances to file a suit and to attend hearings. It is, therefore, necessary that section 19 should be amended by amending and inserting a new clause, clause (iiia) in section 19 to the following effect:

"(iiia) in case the wife is the petitioner, where she is residing on the date of presentation of the petition."

Such amendment will give the wife the choice of court, including where she is residing, to file a suit for redressal of her grievance and would go a long way in relieving her of the additional burden and expense now being faced by her. It would also serve to advance the cause of gender justice consistent with justice and fair play.

It may be mentioned that when the maintenance is claimed by the wife under section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1973, the wife or husband is entitled to file petition for maintenance at the place of the residence as per clause (b) of section 126. The section reads as under:

"126. Procedure.- (1) Proceedings under section 125 may be taken against any person in any distric.-

(a) where he is, or

(b) where he or his wife resides, or

(c) where he last resided with his wife, or as the case may be, with the mother of the illegitimate child.

Thus in any proceedings under section 125 of the CrPC, a wife is entitled to file an application for her maintenance in a court of jurisdiction where she is residing. There is no reason why section 19 of Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 be not amended to accord with the position under section 126/125 of CrPC, 1973.

Recommendations for amending various Enactments - Both Civil and Criminal Back

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