Divorce appeals in 90 days: Bombay High Court

Mumbai : The Bombay High Court on Thursday held that an appeal against the verdict of the Family Court can be filed within a period of 90 days. The decision of the HC comes as a relief to estranged Hindu couples who want challenge the orders, decrees or verdicts of the Family Courts.

The ruling came from a full bench presided over by Justice Naresh Patil, Justice Ramesh Dhanuka and Justice Sadhana Jadhav. In 2014, another division bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka had referred the matter to a full bench, wherein the full bench was requested to deal with the legal controversy of appeal period for Hindu couples.

The basic controversy was that whether the provisions of Family Courts Act which provides for a 30 days deadline will be applicable for divorcing Hindu couples or the provisions mentioned in the Hindu Marriage Act, which provides for a total of 90 days deadline to file appeals.

The significance of the limitation provided by law is that once the appeal deadline ends, the divorced couple is free to remarry without the fear of challenge to the family court decree.

In its 30-page order, the full bench said, “While interpreting the provisions of the said two enactments (Family Courts Act and Hindu Marriage Act), it needs to be considered that we are a country of vast population, millions of people face financial hardship for litigating a matter, people have to spend considerable amount of time, money and energy. The geographical conditions further make easy access to justice difficult.”

“We are of the view that considering the scheme of both the enactments it would not be appropriate to apply different period of limitation, one in case of orders passed by the Family Courts and in another by the regular Civil Courts. Such an approach would frustrate very purpose of legislation,” the bench added.

Accordingly, the bench held that if an appeal is filed by any Hindu individual under the provisions of the Family Courts Act, the period of limitation prescribed under the Hindu Marriage Act (90 days) would apply.

Relief for estranged Hindu couples

The decision of the HC comes as a relief to estranged Hindu couples who want challenge the orders, decrees or verdicts of the Family Courts.

The controversy was that whether the provisions of Family Courts Act which provides for a 30 days deadline will be applicable for divorcing Hindu couples or the provisions mentioned in the Hindu Marriage Act, which provides for a total of 90 days deadline to file appeals.

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