The Wife’s Residence and Registration of Nikahnam Abroad does not Oust Jurisdiction of Family Courts in Pakistan: SC

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The Wife’s Residence and Registration of Nikahnam Abroad does not Oust Jurisdiction of Family Courts in Pakistan: SC

The Supreme Court has held in a recent family case that it does not make any difference for the jurisdiction of the family courts if the wife resides abroad and Nikahnama has also been registered in the foreign country, provided the ordinary residence is Pakistan.

A case came for adjudication before the Supreme Court wherein the husbandย  alleged that a family court at Karachi wrongly assumed jurisdiction in the case filed by his wife for dissolution of marriage, as the wife resided abroad and their Nikahnama was also registered abroad. Thus, her residence in a foreign country and registration of Nikahnama therein ousted the jurisdiction of the family courts in Pakistan.

The Supreme Court referred to Rule 6 of the West Pakistan Family Courts Rules 1965, and held that the phrase “ordinarily resides” means the usual or common residence, not of a permanent nature. The Court held, in ordinary residence, the duration does not matter, only usual visits to a place are sufficient to constitute a place as place of ordinary residence. The wife in the case in hand is a USA citizen and Nikahnama was also solemnised in the USA but the wife usually visits Karachi, she has received her education in Karachi and she visits her family from time to time at Karachi. Hence, it constitutes that she resides ordinarily in Karachi. Thus, the family court at Karachi has rightly assumed jurisdiction in the case in hand, the Supreme Court held in the judgment.

The relevant Rule is reproduced herein below for ease of reference:

โ€œ6. The Court which shall have jurisdiction to try a suit will be that within the local limits of which:- (a)the cause of action wholly or in part has arisen, or (b)where the parties reside or last resided together. Provided that in suits for dissolution of marriage or dower, the court within the local limits of which the wife ordinarily resides shall also have jurisdiction.โ€

The Court further held that the intention of the legislature behind the provision of this Rule is to felicitate her and offset her handicap. The option to institute a suit of dissolution of marriage vests with the wife and she can do so according to her convenience subject to law.

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