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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 03 August, 2022

  • 11 Min Read

FAMILY COURT AMENDMENT BILL 2022

FAMILY COURT AMENDMENT BILL 2022

The Lok Sabha passed the Family Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2022 which seeks to amend the Family Court Act, 1984 to establish a family court in Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland.

About the Bill:

The Bill amends the Family Courts Act, 1984.

  • The Act allows state governments to establish Family Courts to deal with disputes related to family and marriage.
  • The Central Government is empowered to notify the dates for the Act to come into force in different states.
  • The governments of Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland have set up Family Courts in their states under the Act.
  • However, the central government has not extended the application of the Act to these states.
  • The Bill seeks to extend the application of the Act to the state of Himachal Pradesh, with effect from February 15, 2019, and to the state of Nagaland, with effect from September 12, 2008.
  • The establishment of Family Courts in both states will be retrospectively valid from these dates.
  • All actions taken under the Act in both the states, including the appointment of judges and orders and judgments passed by the Family Courts, will also be deemed to be valid from these dates retrospectively.

What was the Need for the Amendment?

  • There are 715 Family Courts that are established and functioning in 26 States and Union territories, including three Family Courts in the State of Himachal Pradesh and the two-Family Courts in the State of Nagaland.
  • However, for Himachal and Nagaland, the Central Government notification was not issued for bringing the said Act into force in these states.
  • The issue of lack of jurisdiction of Family Courts in the State of Himachal Pradesh has been challenged before the High Court of Himachal Pradesh.
  • It was stated that as the Central Government has not issued any notification to extend the jurisdiction of Family Courts in the State of Himachal Pradesh, such Courts are functioning without jurisdiction and anything done or any action taken under the said Act appears to be void ab initio (Having no legal effect from inception).
  • The family courts in Nagaland too were operating without any legal authority since 2008.

What is the Family Courts Act 1984?

Establishment of Family Courts:

  • The Family Courts Act, 1984 was enacted for the establishment of Family Courts to promote conciliation and secure speedy settlement of disputes relating to marriage and family affairs and for related matters.

Appointment of Judges:

  • The State Government may, with the concurrence of the High Court, appoint one or the more persons to be the Judge or Judges of a Family Court.

Association of Social Welfare Agencies:

The State Government may provide with a Family Court of:

  • Institutions or organizations engaged in social welfare.
  • Persons professionally engaged in promoting the welfare of the family.
  • Persons working in the field of social welfare.
  • Any other person whose association with a Family Court would enable it to exercise its jurisdiction more effectively in accordance with the purposes of this Act.

In India, the Family Court can accept the appeals for grant of a decree of divorce under various acts like the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939, Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936, the Divorce Act, 1869, the Special Marriage Act, 1954, Foreign Marriage Act, 1969, etc.

Family courts help in the disposition of cases related to marriage, divorce, and maintenance. The Family Courts are also equipped with Counsellors and Psychologists who help even in reconciliation and mutual settlement.

Issues:

  • Procedures are too complex for the common man to understand. The Act hasn’t created any simplified rules which can be understood by a layman.
  • There are instances of a lack of proper judgment and efficient human resources. The Judges of the family court are appointed based on the qualification as that of judges of the District Court. There is a need to change this process.
  • Lack of Gender equality often child custody is provided to the woman and the Family Court has often failed to ensure gender justice and equality due to the orthodox thinking of judges that a mother can nurture a child better.

Way Forward

Making the procedures and language more litigant-friendly so that the common man can understand the complex law, and providing efficient justice delivery could further strengthen the institution.

Family Courts can take assistance from NGOs and other welfare societies to help the court in discharging its functions by ensuring professional competence and gender justice.

Read also - VK Paul Taskforce on MonkeyPox

Source: The Indian Express


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