oppn parties Supreme Court Raps Family Courts

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  • Anand Sharma of the Congress to replace P Chidambaram on the parliamentary committee on home affairs
Sunni Wakf Board and Nirvani Akhara write to the Supreme Court for a negotiated settlement to the Ayodhya dispute
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Supreme Court Raps Family Courts

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
The Supreme Court has come down hard on the working of the Family Courts. In the case Shamima Begum vs Imran Khan, the Court observed that these courts have become apathetic to the problems of the litigants and dispense justice at a snail’s pace, a situation it found “unacceptable” and a “distressing phenomenon.”

The Court’s ire was aroused by the fact that the final order in the above case came after almost 16 years despite the fact that it was a case where the divorced wife was seeking a fair maintenance from her ex â€"husband. The Court also found it shocking that despite the delay, the judge did not find it prudent to order an interim maintenance for the woman’s sustenance.

The Court cited several earlier cases to reinforce the fact that Family Courts were not meeting the ends of justice and were defeating the purpose for which they were set up. This is what the Court cited from the case Bhuwan Mohan Singh vs Meena & Ors.: “The purpose of highlighting this aspect is that in the case at hand the proceeding before the Family Court was conducted without being alive to the objects and reasons of the Act and the spirit of the provisions Under Section 125 of the Code. It is unfortunate that the case continued for nine years before the Family Court. It has come to the notice of the Court that on certain occasions the Family Courts have been granting adjournments in a routine manner as a consequence of which both the parties suffer or, on certain occasions, the wife becomes the worst victim. When such a situation occurs, the purpose of the law gets totally atrophied. The Family Judge is expected to be sensitive to the issues, for he is dealing with extremely delicate and sensitive issues pertaining to the marriage and issues ancillary thereto. When we say this, we do not mean that the Family Courts should show undue haste or impatience, but there is a distinction between impatience and to be wisely anxious and conscious about dealing with a situation. A Family Court Judge should remember that the procrastination is the greatest assassin of the lis before it. It not only gives rise to more family problems but also gradually builds unthinkable and Everestine bitterness. It leads to the cold refrigeration of the hidden feelings, if still left. The delineation of the lis by the Family Judge must reveal the awareness and balance. Dilatory tactics by any of the parties has to be sternly dealt with, for the Family Court Judge has to be alive to the fact that the lis before him pertains to emotional fragmentation and delay can feed it to grow. We hope and trust that the Family Court Judges shall remain alert to this and decide the matters as expeditiously as possible keeping in view the objects and reasons of the Act and the scheme of various provisions pertaining to grant of maintenance, divorce, custody of child, property disputes, etc.”

The Court was of the opinion that without showing undue haste, the Family Courts should dispense speedy and efficient justice. For this, the judge needed to have complete control over the proceedings. The Court said that “there has to be a pro-active approach in this regard and the said approach should be instilled in the Family Court Judges by the Judicial Academies functioning under the High Courts.” There can be no greater indictment of the way Family Courts are functioning in India, defeating the very purpose for which they were set up.