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The Bombay high court has set aside a Family Court order granting a divorce decree ex-parte to a 35-year-old Pune man without providing a fair opportunity to hear his wife, thereby causing prejudice to her.

Hearing the woman’s appeal against the Family Court order, the HC Bench noted last week “We are convinced that the wife is required to be provided with an opportunity to contest the matter on merits. She could not get appropriate opportunity to put up her defence and cross-examine the respondent (husband).”

Accordingly, Justices Naresh Patil and A R Joshi sent the matter back to Pune’s Family Court while ruling that denial of an opportunity of hearing had caused prejudice to the appellant (wife).

The woman’s lawyers, Vrishali Rane and Pooja Bhojne, argued that she did not get a chance to lead evidence and put up her case before the Family Court which had caused prejudice to her rights.

Moreover, when the matter was being contested in the Family Court, the appellant’s minor daughter was suffering from viral fever. She was residing in far away Dhule (around 350km from Pune) and had to travel to the city to attend the court regularly. She has been facing financial constraints and due to several factors, she could not get opportunity to defend herself, they pleaded.

However, the husband’s Counsel, Vikas Shivarkar, refuted the charge that opportunity was denied to wife to put up her case.

He submitted that the appellant, in spite of giving sufficient opportunities, failed to avail of the same and therefore the Family Court was left with no other alternative than to proceed with the matter and decide on it finally.

The HC quashed the divorce decree granted ex-parte and asked the Family Court to hear the matter afresh and decide within six months. It also asked the couple to cooperate with the lower court in this regard.

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