Declaration in regard to matrimonial Status of any person had to be sought only before Family Court.

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 Petitioner

VERSUS

FULMANIYA YADAV Respondent

J U D G M E N T

KURIAN, J.
Leave granted.
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-”
(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.”

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 notwithstanding 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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