Family Courts Act 1984
The Family Courts are established in India with a view to amicably settle family disputes. Many social work organizations, women associations and individuals have urged from time to time for establishment of a forum where the stress would be on conciliation for peaceful settlement of family disputes.
The Law commission in its 59 th report in 1974 also expressed a strong urge that certain courts concerning family disputes be established and the rules of procedure to be followed by such courts be much simpler and radically different from the rigid ruled of procedure and evidence.
ii. How was the act enacted ?
For speedy disposal of disputes concerning family matters, the Parliament enacted the Family Court Act, 1984 in the 35 th year of the Republic of India .
The object of the act is to establish special family courts by state governments in every city or town with a population exceeding 1 million. One of the important aspect of the act is that it is a social and beneficent legislation.
Section 7 - Jurisdiction
(1) Subject to the other provisions of this Act, a Family Court shall-
(a) have and exercise all the jurisdiction exercisable by any district court or any subordinate civil court under any law for the time being in force in respect of suits and proceedings of the nature referred to in the explanation; and
(b) be deemed, for the purposes of exercising such jurisdiction under such law, to be a district court or, as the case may be, such subordinate civil court for the area to which the jurisdiction of the Family Court extends. Explanation: The suits and proceedings referred to in this sub-section are suits and proceedings of the following nature, namely,-
(a) a suit or proceeding between the parties to a marriage for a decree of nullity of
marriage (declaring the marriage to be null and void or, as the case may be,
annulling the marriage) or restitution of conjugal rights or judicial separation or
dissolution of marriage;
(b) a suit or proceeding for a declaration as to the validity
of a marriage or as to the matrimonial status of any person;
(c) a suit or proceeding between the parties to a marriage with respect to the property of the parties or of either of them;
(d) a suit or proceeding for an order or injunction in circumstances arising out of a marital relationship;
(e) a suit or proceeding for a declaration as to the legitimacy of any person;
(f) a suit or proceeding for maintenance;
(g) a suit or proceeding in relation to the guardianship of the person or the custody of, or access to, any minor.
(2) Subject to the other provisions of this Act, a Family Court shall also have and exercise-
(a) the jurisdiction exercisable by a Magistrate of the First Class under Chapter IX (relating to order for maintenance of wife, children and parents) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974); and
(b) such other jurisdiction as may be conferred on it by any other enactment
Section 8 - Exclusion of jurisdiction and pending proceedings
Where a Family Court has been established for any area,-
(a) no district court or any subordinate civil court referred to in sub-section
(1) of section 7 shall, in relation to such area, have or exercise any jurisdiction in respect of any suit or proceeding of the nature referred to in the explanation to that sub-section;
(b) no magistrate shall, in relation to such area, have or exercise any jurisdiction or power under Chapter IX of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974);
(c) every suit or proceeding of the nature referred to in the explanation to sub-section
(1) of section 7 and every proceeding under Chapter IX of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974),-
(i) which is pending immediately before the establishment of such Family Court before any district court or subordinate court referred to in that sub-section or, as the case may be, before any Magistrate under the said Code; and
(ii) which would have been required to be instituted or taken before or by such Family Court if, before the date on which such suit or proceeding was instituted or taken, this Act had come into force and such Family Court had been established, shall stand transferred to such Family Court on the date on which it is established.
Section 9 - Duty of Family Court to make efforts for settlement
(1) In every suit or proceeding, endeavour shall be made by the Family Court in the first instance, where it is possible to do so consistent with the nature and circumstances of the case, to assist and persuade the parties in arriving at a settlement in respect of the subject-matter of the suit or proceeding and for this purpose a Family Court may, subject to any rules made by the High Court, follow such procedure as it may deem fit.
(2) If, in any suit or proceeding, at any stage, it appears to the Family Court that there is a reasonable possibility of a settlement between the parties, the Family Court may adjourn the proceedings for such period as it thinks fit to enable attempts to be made to effect such a settlement.
(3) The power conferred by sub-section
(2) shall be in addition to, and not in derogation of, any other power of the Family Court to adjourn the proceedings.
Section 10 -Procedure generally
(1) Subject to the other provisions of this Act and the rules, the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) and of any other law for the time being in force shall apply to the suits and proceedings] other than proceedings under Chapter IX of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974)], before a Family Court and for the purposes of the said provisions of the Code, a Family Court shall be deemed to be a Civil Court and shall have all the powers of such court.
(2) Subject to the other provisions of this Act and the rules, the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, (2 of 1974) or the rules made thereunder, shall apply to the proceedings under Chapter IX of that Code before a Family Court.
(3) Nothing in sub-section
(1) or sub-section
(2) shall prevent a Family Court from laying down its own procedure with a view to arrive at a settlement in respect of the subject-matter of the suit or proceedings or at the truth of the facts alleged by the one party and denied by the other.
Section 11 - Proceedings to be held in camera
In every suit or proceedings to which this Act applies, the proceedings may be held in camera if the Family Court so desires and shall be so held if either party so desires.
Section 12 - Assistance of medical and welfare experts
In every suit or proceedings, it shall be open to a Family Court to secure the services of a medical expert or such person (preferably a woman where available), whether related to the parties or not, including a person professionally engaged in promoting the welfare of the family as the court may think fit, for the purposes of assisting the Family Court in discharging the functions imposed by this Act.
Section 13 - Right to legal representation
Notwithstanding anything contained in any law, no party to a suit or proceeding before a Family Court shall be entitled, as of right, to be represented by a legal practitioner: PROVIDED that if the Family Court considers it necessary in the interest of justice, it may seek the assistance of a legal expert as amicus curiae.
Section 14 - Application of Indian Evidence Act, 1872
A Family Court may receive as evidence any report, statement, documents, information or matter that may, in its opinion, assist it to deal effectually with a dispute, whether or not the same would be otherwise relevant or admissible under the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (1 of 1872).
Section 15 - Record of oral evidence
In suits or proceedings before a Family Court, it shall not be necessary to record the evidence of witnesses at length, but the Judge, as the examination of each witness proceeds, shall, record or cause to be recorded, a memorandum of the substance of what the witness deposes, and such memorandum shall be signed by the witness and the Judge and shall form part of the record.
Section 16 - Evidence of formal character on affidavit
(1) The evidence of any person where such evidence is of a formal character, may be given by affidavit and may, subject to all just exceptions, be read in evidence in any suit or proceeding before a Family Court.
(2) The Family Court may, if it thinks fit, and shall, on the application of any of the parties to the suit or proceeding summon and examine any such person as to the facts contained in his affidavit.
Section 17 - Judgement
Judgement of a Family Court shall contain a concise statement of the case, the point for determination, the decision thereon and the reasons for such decision.
Section 18 - Execution of decrees and orders
(1) A decree or an order [other than an order under Chapter IX of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974)], passed by a Family Court shall have the same force and effect as a decree or order of a Civil Court and shall be executed in the same manner as is prescribed by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908)] for the execution of decrees and orders.
(2) An order passed by a Family Court under Chapter IX of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) shall be executed in the manner prescribed for the execution of such order by that Code.
(3) A decree or order may be executed either by the Family Court which passed it or by the other Family Court or ordinary Civil Court to which it is sent for execution.
Section 19 - Appeal
(1) Save as provided in sub-section
(2) and notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) or in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), or in any other law, an appeal shall lie from every judgement or order, not being an interlocutory order, of a Family Court to the High Court both on facts and on law.
(2) No appeal shall lie from a decree or order passed by the Family Court with the consent of the parties 2[or from an order passed under Chapter IX of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) : PROVIDED that nothing in this sub-section shall apply to any appeal pending before a High Court or any order passed under Chapter IX of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) before the commencement of the Family Courts (Amendment) Act, 1991.]
(3) Every appeal under this section shall be preferred within a period of thirty days from the date of judgement or order of a Family Court.
3[(4) The High Court may, of its own motion or otherwise, call for and examine the record of any proceeding in which the Family Court situate with in its jurisdiction passed an order under Chapter IX of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for the purpose of satisfying itself as to the correctness, legality or propriety of the order, not being an interlocutory order, and, as to the regularity of such proceeding.]
3[(5)] Except as aforesaid, no appeal or revision shall lie to any court from any judgement, order or decree of a Family Court.
3[(6)] An appeal preferred under sub-section
(1) shall be heard by a Bench consisting of two or more Judges.