WHEN her husband filed for divorce in 2014, Anisha Jadhav, 31, knew immediately that she would contest the plea. But the problem was making it to the family court complex in Bandra for the hearings. A resident of a remote village in Raigad district, Jadhav would start her day at 3 am, eating a quick meal and leaving home by 4 am to arrive in time for a 11 am hearing.
The journey from Nandanpada, located about 115 km from Mumbai, involved a nearly five-hour journey in one direction, including a train journey, multiple bus journeys and multiple autorickshaw rides, besides covering some stretches on foot. “On an average day when a hearing was scheduled, we would wake up at 3 am and set out by 4 am to get to court by 11 am. We would then eat something in the afternoon, leave court at 5 pm and make it home only at 10 pm,” said her father, Ramchandra Shyam Rao Dalvi, who accompanied his daughter for every trip. A farm hand, Dalvi supports his daughter who has received no financial assistance from her husband. One trip to Bandra and back home cost the duo Rs 1,000. Taking note of her hardship, the Bombay High Court recently transferred her case to Panvel. A journey to the Panvel court still means travelling five to six hours daily, but that is still a welcome relief for the family.
“According to the applicant, to attend the court at Bandra she is required to first go to Ajivali, which is four kilometres away from her village and since no transport is available she walks from Nandanpada to Ajivali, which takes about 30 minutes. From Ajivali, she is required to travel two kilometres by autorickshaw to reach Vavoshi, which takes further 15 minutes. From Vavoshi, she takes a bus for Pen and travel 18 kilometres which takes further 45 minutes. She thereafter travels a distance of 32 kilometres from Pen to Panvel which takes an hour. From Panvel to Kurla Railway Station, which is approximately 35 kilometres, she has to travel by train, which again takes an hour. From Kurla Railway Station to the Family Court at Bandra, she has to travel by autorickshaw and spend further 30 minutes.
Therefore, in order to attend the Family Court at Bandra, she has to spend a minimum of approximately eight hours (to and fro). She spends more time if she is required to wait for an autorickshaw/bus/train,” Justice S J Kathawalla observed in his order. While transferring the case to Panvel, the court said, “I am satisfied that the wife is put to grave inconvenience to attend the court proceedings filed by the husband from her village Nandanpada to the Bandra Family Court. Even if the proceedings are transferred to the court at Panvel, she will have to travel for at least six hours (to and fro) which she has agreed to since she has no other alternative. The transfer of court proceeding as sought by the wife therefore deserves to be granted.”
The couple married in 2007. The husband, a resident of Wadala, filed a divorce plea in 2014 on the grounds of cruelty, claiming that she deserted him in 2013, according to her lawyer Tanvir Shaikh. Anisha says her seven-year-old son is the inspiration for her to have made the gruelling journey every couple of months. While challenging the divorce plea, she is also seeking maintenance for herself and her son.
The High Court also noted, “Admittedly, the husband has till date not paid her any amount towards interim alimony or maintenance for the minor child, because of which she is facing grave financial hardship.” Jadhav said she and her husband lived in Kalyan. Her husband works as a technician in Film City. Unwilling to consent to a divorce, Jadhav wants to secure the future of her son, a student of PNP English Medium School near her village. “The journey is very taxing but my father has been by my side,” she said.
Despite making multiple trips to the city, she has never had the opportunity to explore the financial capital. “If we don’t get public transport, the cost of travelling increases,” she said.