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Sec 7 Family Courts Act | Circumstances arising out of marital relationship may include not only husband & wife but also parents-in-law
Avneet Kaur Vs Sadhu Singh and Anr
About/from the judgment:
The High Court has held that the words "circumstances arising out of marital relationship" used in reference to filing of suit for injunction under Clause (d) of the explanation to Section 7 (1) of the Family Courts Act, 1984 would include not only the husband and wife but may also include the parents-in-law.
The Court made it clear that what is to be seen is not the relationship between the parties but whether the circumstances in which the suit is filed arose out of a matrimonial relationship.
If the answer to the aforesaid is in the affirmative, then the provision would apply and the Family Courts would have exclusive jurisdiction to deal with such applications for injunction.
The Judge observed,
"There is nothing in Clause (d) of the explanation to Section 7 (1) of the Family Courts Act in which indicates that the clause would apply only where the litigation is between husband and wife. For the clause to apply, all that is required is that (i) there is a marital relationship, (ii) the martial relationship has resulted in a certain set of circumstances and (iii) the order or injunction which is sought in the suit is sought in those circumstances."
The original suit was filed by the Respondents herein against their daughter-in-law (Petitioner herein), seeking a decree of permanent injunction, restraining the petitioner from entering their house.
It was alleged that the Petitioner herein harassed the respondents and went to the extent of involving them in false criminal cases. Graphic details of the alleged atrocities committed by police officials, at the instance of the petitioner, were mentioned in the plaint.
The petitioner herein had responded to this suit by filing an application seeking transfer of the proceedings to the Family Court, relying on Sections 7 & 8 of the Family Courts Act. The provisions delineate Jurisdiction of Family Courts.
The same was rejected by the civil court while observing that in terms of Section 7, exclusive jurisdiction of family courts lies with respect to disputes "between the parties to a marriage", i.e., husband and wife.
It was held that even thigh the relationship of the parents-in-laws and daughter-in-law is created because of marriage only, they are not the parties to marriage and hence, the matter does not fall within the ambit of Section 7 (1) Explanation (c) (d) of the Family Courts Act.
Assailing this order, the present petition under Article 227 of the Constitution was preferred, raising a question relating to the exact interpretation of Clause (d) of the explanation to Section 7 (1) of the Family Courts Act, 1984.
With respect to scope of exercising supervisory jurisdiction under Article 227 is concerned, the Court observed, "where the interpretation of a statutory provision which impinges on the jurisdiction of a Court to decide the matter is, in the opinion of the Court, erroneous, the Court would be shirking in its duty if it does not correct the situation, while exercising Article 227 jurisdiction."
Coming to the merits of the case, the bench observed,
"A mere glance at the provision indicates that it has been worded in careful and cautious terms. It states that a suit or proceeding for an order or injunction in circumstances arising out of a marital relationship would lie exclusively before the Family Court."
The Court held that the test is not whether the cause of action, forming the basis of the prayer for injunction, arises out of a marital relationship or whether the marital relationship is the reason for the grievance ventilated by the plaintiff. All that must been seen is the circumstances in which the injunction is sought.
In the present case, the High Court stated that the circumstances in which injunction was sought had arisen out of a marital relationship.
It illustrated that had the petitioner not married Pardip, she would never have been the daughter-in-law of the respondents and the respondents would never had given her any permissive licence to reside therein, resulting in the present "chiaroscuro of events".
"The fact that the petitioner married the respondents' son was the foundation of the relationship that emerged between the petitioner and the respondents, and it was in the circumstances which arouse out of that relationship that the entire dispute between the respondents and the petitioner, as per the allegations contained in the plaint, filed by the respondents, arose."
Thus, the High Court made it clear that Explanation (d) in Section 7 (1) of the Family Courts Act does not, either expressly or by necessary implication, require the parties to the lis to be husband and wife.
In concluding remarks, the High Court observed that where special Courts or Tribunals are set up, and disputes regarding jurisdiction arise, the attempt should be to confer jurisdiction on such special Courts or Tribunals, rather than to exclude their jurisdiction.
"A dispute which, statutorily, is not amenable, under Section 7 (1) of the Family Courts Act, to adjudication by the Family Court, cannot, by subjecting the provision to an unduly strained interpretation, be brought within such jurisdiction. However, in the present case, as I have already opined hereinabove, Clause (d) of the explanation to Section 7 (1) of the Family Courts Act, properly interpreted, would include, within its hold, a plaint such as that which has been filed by the respondents against the petitioner."
Accordingly, the petition was allowed.
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