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6/6/2016

EssayontheFamilyCourtsinIndia

Essay on the Family


Courts in India
byPragatiGhosh

HereisyouressayontheFamilyCourtsinIndia:
Until1984,matrimonialandotherfamilymattersfellwithinthe
jurisdictionoftheordinarycivilcourtsofthecountry,whereothercivil
matterswerealsolitigated.However,mostwesterncountrieshad
establishedspecialcourtsfamiliarlyknownasFamilyCourtsto
dealwithdiversematterslikedivorce,separation,maintenance,
custodyofchildren,etc.Itisgenerallyacceptedthatlitigationinfamily
mattersneedstobelessformal,lessinquisitorialandlessadverserial.
Suchcourtsshouldendeavourtosaveandstabilisetheinstitutionof
marriage,ratherthandestroyit.Itwaswiththesesocialobjectivesin
mindthatIndiaoptedfortheestablishmentoffamilycourtsbypassing
theFamilyCourtsActin1984.
TheFamilyCourtsAct,1984,extendstothewholeofIndia,exceptthe
StateofJammuandKashmir.TheActhasbeengivenanoverriding
effectanditsprovisionsaretohaveeffectnotwithstandinganything
inconsistenttherewithcontainedinanyotherlawinforceinIndia.(S.
20)
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EssayontheFamilyCourtsinIndia

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EstablishmentofFamilyCourtsinIndia:
TheActenvisagestheestablishmentofFamilyCourtsbytheState
GovernmentbyaNotificationintheOfficialGazette,afterconsultation
withtheHighCourtoftheState.AsobservedbytheSupremeCourt,
StateGovernmentsshouldestablishFamilyCourtsnotonlybecauseit
issoprovidedintheAct,butalsotodischargeitssocialobligationto
providealessformalplatformforresolvingfamilydisputes.
(Gangadharanv.StateofKerala,AIR2006SC2360)
UndertheAct,theStateGovernmentmustestablishoneFamilyCourt
foreveryareaintheStatecomprisingofatownorcitywhichhasa
populationofonemillionormore.FamilyCourtsmayalsobe
establishedforotherareasintheStateastheStateGovernmentmay
deemnecessary.
TheappointmentoftheJudgesofFamilyCourtsismadebytheState
Government,whichmayappointoneormoreJudgesforeachsuch
Court.PersonswhoareappointedJudgesmusthavethenecessary
qualificationsprescribedbytheAct.Additionally,theymustbe
committedtotheneedtoprotectandpreservetheinstitutionof
marriageandtopromotethewelfareofchildren.Preferenceistobe
giventowomenwhenmakingsuchappointments.However,noperson
canbesoappointedifhehasattainedtheageofsixtytwoyears.
WhenaFamilyCourtconsistsofmorethanoneJudge,eachJudge
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canexerciseanyorallofthepowersconferredontheFamilyCourts
bytheAct.

JurisdictionofFamilyCourts:
S.7oftheActlaysdownthatFamilyCourtsshallhaveandexercise
allthejurisdictionwhichisexercisedbyanyDistrictCourtorany
subordinatecivilcourtunderanylawforthetimebeinginforcein
respectofsuitsandproceedingsrelatingtothefollowingmatters,
namely:
(a)Asuitorproceedingbetweenthepartiestoamarriageforadecree
ofnullityofmarriage(thatis,declaringthemarriagetobenullandvoid
or,asthecasemaybe,annullingthemarriage)orrestitutionof
conjugalrightsorjudicialseparationordissolutionofmarriage
(b)Asuitorproceedingforadeclarationastothevalidityofa
marriageorastothematrimonialstatusofanyperson
(c)Asuitorproceedingbetweenthepartiestoamarriagewithrespect
tothepropertyofthepartiesorofeitherofthem
(d)Asuitorproceedingforanorderorinjunctionincircumstances
arisingoutofamaritalrelationship
(e)Asuitorproceedingforadeclarationastothelegitimacyofany
person
(f)Asuitorproceedingformaintenanceand
(g)Asuitorproceedinginrelationtotheguardianshipofthepersonor
thecustodyof,oraccessto,anyminor.
Inadditiontotheabove,aFamilyCourtalsohasjurisdictionwhichcan
beexercisedbyaMagistrateoftheFirstClassunderCh.IXofthe
CodeofCriminalProcedure,1973,inmattersrelatingtomaintenance
ofwives,childrenandparents.

ProceduretobefollowedbyFamilyCourts:
ProceduralmattersrelatingtoFamilyCourtsmaybesummedupas
under:

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i.AFamilyCourtisdeemedtobeacivilcourtandhasallthepowers
ofacivilcourt.TheprovisionsoftheCodeofCivilProcedure,1908,
applytoallsuitsandproceedingsbeforeaFamilyCourt.
ii.Ineverysuitorproceeding,theFamilyCourtmust,wheneveritis
possibletodoso,endeavourtoassistandpersuadethepartiestothe
litigationtoarriveatasettlement.
iii.AllsuitsandproceedingsmaybeheldincameraiftheFamilyCourt
sodesires,andshallbesoheldifeitherpartysodesires.
(Proceedingsaresaidtobeheldincamerawhenmembersofthe
publicarenotallowedtoattendsuchproceedings.)
iv.Ineverysuitorproceeding,theFamilyCourtmaytakethe
assistanceofmedicalandwelfareexperts,indischargingitsfunctions
undertheAct.
v.NopartytothesuitorproceedingbeforeaFamilyCourtcanengage
alawyerasamatterofright.HecandosoonlyiftheCourtconsiders
itnecessary,intheinterestofjustice,toallowhimtoberepresentedby
alawyer.
vi.AFamilyCourtmayreceiveasevidence,anyreport,statement,
document,informationorothermatterwhich,initsopinion,would
assistitineffectivelydealingwithadisputebeforeitwhetherornot
thesamewouldberelevantoradmissibleundertheIndianEvidence
Act,1872.
vii.AFamilyCourtneednotrecordtheevidenceofwitnessatlength.It
wouldbesufficientiftheJudgerecords,orcausestoberecorded,a
memorandumofthesubstanceofthedepositionofthewitness.The
Judgeandthewitnessmustsignsuchamemorandum,whichthen
formspartoftherecordofthecase.
viii.Ifevidenceisofaformalnature,itmaybegivenbywayofan
affidavit.
ix.ThejudgmentoftheFamilyCourtmustcontainaconcisestatement
ofthecase,thepointsfordetermination,thedecisionoftheCourtand
thereasonsforthedecision.

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x.AlldecreesandordersofaFamilyCourtcanbeexecutedunderthe
relevantprovisionsoftheCodeofCivilProcedure,1908.
xi.AppealsfromjudgmentsandordersofaFamilyCourtcanbefiled,
bothonpointsoflawandoffacts,beforetheHighCourt,withinthirty
daysofthedateofthejudgmentororder.Noappealcan,however,be
filed:
a.AgainstaninterlocutoryorderoftheCourt,or
b.Againstanorderordecreepassedwiththeconsentoftheparties.
AllsuchappealsaretobeheardbyaBenchoftheHighCourt
consistingoftwoormoreJudges.

Caselaw:
1.Awifecanimpleadacloserelativeofherhusbandorevena
strangertosupportherclaimthatthehusbandhadhandedoverhis
propertytothemtoavoidrecoveryofsuchproperty.Thisfactwould
nothavetheeffectofdeprivingtheFamilyCourtofitsjurisdiction.
(Shyniv.George,AIR1997Ker231)
2.Theexpressionpartiestoamarriagewouldincludeadivorced
wife,andtherefore,suchapersoncanfileproceedingsinaFamily
Court.(.A.Abdulv.T.A.Sahida,AIR1997Ker269)
3.TheBombayHighCourthasobservedthattheActdoesnotcontain
anyabsolutebartotheappointmentofadvocatestorepresentthe
parties,andwherevernecessary,theCourtmustfreelymakeavailable
theserviceofanadvocatetothepartybeforeit.(Leelav.Mahadeo,
AIR1991Bom105)
4.Acivilsuitcannotbefiledtodeclareasnullandvoid,adecree
passedbyaFamilyCourt.(Shahnazv.Shirin,AIR1955Bom30)
5.AsnospecificprocedurehasbeenprescribedbytheActfor
decidingapplicationsforcustodyofminorchildren,theonlypointsto
beensuredinappealarewhethertheprocedurewhichwasfollowed
bytheCourtconformedtotherulesofnaturaljusticeandwhetherthe
paramountconsiderationinthemindoftheFamilyCourtwasthe
welfareofthechild.(Dr.RohitDandekarv.Dr.RajKavitha,(2004)1
DMC216)
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6.ThejurisdictionofFamilyCourtshaveprecedenceovermatrimonial
andfamilylawsstatutesinforceinIndia.(Rajanv.Shobha,AIR1995
Bom246)
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