'Domestic Violence Cases Can Go To Family Court': Bombay HC

'Domestic Violence Cases Can Go To Family Court': Bombay HC

The High Court, while ruling that the cases can be transferred to the FC from the magistrate court, observed that this would save time, effort and money of the parties, as it avoids multiplicity of proceedings.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Sunday, December 31, 2023, 10:54 AM IST
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'Domestic Violence Cases Can Go To Family Court': Bombay HC | File

Mumbai: In a significant ruling, the Bombay High Court has held that Family Courts (FC) are competent to conduct the proceedings and give relief under the Domestic Violence Act (DV Act), and the proceedings under the DV Act can be transferred from the magistrate’s court to a family court.

The High Court, while ruling that the cases can be transferred to the FC from the magistrate court, observed that this would save time, effort and money of the parties, as it avoids multiplicity of proceedings.

“The parties would save time, effort and money if the proceedings are permitted to be transferred to the Family Court,” observed Justice Kamal Khata on December 20.

The issue came up before Justice Kamal Khata while dealing with a petition in which the husbands sought transfer of proceedings under DV Act from magistrate’s court to the FC contending that there are chances of conflicting orders.

As per the norm, a domestic violence complaint ought to be registered before a local magistrate, who then decides on granting relief, including maintenance as per the DV Act, whereas a Family Court adjudicates disputes between couples, including divorces and even grant of maintenance under the Code of Criminal Procedure and various personal laws.

What Was The Case About?

The court was hearing a plea filed by a husband seeking transfer of the proceedings filed by his estranged wife from the magistrate court to the FC at Bandra. The couple returned from the US in 2008. They separated in 2019. The wife initially sought divorce and maintenance from a court in New Jersey, which was rejected.

The husband’s advocate, Irani, argued that she then filed an application before the FC for maintenance on June 27, 2022 and then within a month she filed a complaint under DV Act before a magistrate to harass the husband and pressurise him. Reliefs sought in both the applications are the same. Hence, the husband filed a plea in the HC seeking transfer of the DV case from magistrate to the FC.

The wife’s advocate, Rohan Cama, opposed the plea contending that the FC does not have jurisdiction to decide applications under the DV Act.

Similar Case Transferred To Family Court Earlier

When a similar plea came up for hearing before Justice Sarang Kotwal, the judge in August transferred the plea to Justice Khata, to avoid conflicting views. Justice Kotwal remarked that there have been conflicting views regarding transfer of DV cases to FC, and since Justice Khata had reserved order in a similar plea, the matter was transferred to him.

Advocate Abhijit Sarwate, appearing for a husband in another plea, argued that there are Supreme Court judgments, which have said that cases under DV Act can be transferred. Justice Khata observed: “The Family Court has powers to decide both civil as well as certain criminal proceedings. The Family Court has powers to assign a complaint to the Metropolitan Magistrate Court…” Transferring the case from magistrate to FC, Justice Khata noted: “The pleadings and materials on record and the totality of the facts and circumstances of this case, and particularly that the Applicant (husband) will suffer undue hardship and expense..” The case has to be transferred within four weeks

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