Sunday, 8 May 2016

Whether declaration as to matrimonial status can be obtained from family court?

Under Section 7(1) Explanation (b), a Suit or a proceeding
for a declaration as to the validity of both marriage and
matrimonial status of a person is within the exclusive jurisdiction
of the Family Court, since under Section 8, all those jurisdictions
covered under Section 7 are excluded from the purview of the
jurisdiction of the Civil Courts. In case, there is a dispute on
the matrimonial status of any person, a declaration in that regard
has to be sought only before the Family Court. It makes no
difference as to whether it is an affirmative relief or a negative
relief. What is important is the declaration regarding the
matrimonial status. Section 20 also endorses the view which we
have taken, since the Family Courts Act, 1984, has an overriding
effect on other laws.
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO.4500 OF 2016
(Arising out of SLP(C) No. 8076 OF 2015)
BALRAM YADAV 
 VERSUS
FULMANIYA YADAV 

KURIAN, J.
Dated;APRIL 27, 2016
Citation:AIR 2016 SC 2161:2016(4) ALLMR 470 SC

1. The appellant instituted a Civil Suit before the Family
Court, Ambikapur, Sarguja, Chhattisgarh seeking a declaration to
the effect that respondent is not his legally married wife. By
judgment dated 28.12.2013, the Civil Suit was decreed declaring
that the respondent was not appellant's legally married wife.
2. The respondent, being aggrieved, moved the High Court of
Chhattisgarh. The High court, as per the impugned order dated
14.01.2015, allowed the appeal holding that the Family Court lacked
jurisdiction to deal with the matter. According to the High Court,
a negative declaration was outside the jurisdiction of the Family
Court.
3. Heard the learned counsel for the parties.
4. Section 7 of the Family Courts Act, 1984(for short “the
Act”) deals with the jurisdiction of the Family Courts, which reads
as follows:-
“Jurisdiction.-(1) Subject to the other provisions
of this Act, a Family Court shall-"Page 2
2
(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); andPage 3
3
(b) such other jurisdiction as may be conferred on
it by any other enactment.”
5. Section 8 of the Act deals with the exclusion of
jurisdiction, which reads as follows:-
“8. Exclusion of jurisdiction and pending
proceedings.-Where a Family Court has been
established for any area,- .-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.”
6. Section 20 of the Family Courts Act, 1984 provides for
overriding effect of the Act on other laws or instruments having
the effect of law. The said Section reads as follows:-
“20.Act to have overriding effect- The provisions
of this Act shall have effect notwithstandingPage 4
4
anything inconsistent therewith contained in any
other law for the time being in force or in any
instrument having effect by virtue of any law other
than this Act.”
7. Under Section 7(1) Explanation (b), a Suit or a proceeding
for a declaration as to the validity of both marriage and
matrimonial status of a person is within the exclusive jurisdiction
of the Family Court, since under Section 8, all those jurisdictions
covered under Section 7 are excluded from the purview of the
jurisdiction of the Civil Courts. In case, there is a dispute on
the matrimonial status of any person, a declaration in that regard
has to be sought only before the Family Court. It makes no
difference as to whether it is an affirmative relief or a negative
relief. What is important is the declaration regarding the
matrimonial status. Section 20 also endorses the view which we
have taken, since the Family Courts Act, 1984, has an overriding
effect on other laws.
8. In view of the above, the appeal is allowed. The impugned
judgment of the High Court is set aside. The matter is remitted to
the High Court to be decided on merits. We request the High Court
to hear the appeal afresh and dispose it of expeditiously,
preferably within a period of six months.
No costs.
 …....................J
 (KURIAN JOSEPH)
 …....................J
NEW DELHI (ROHINTON FALI NARIMAN)
APRIL 27, 2016
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