Family Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2022

The Family Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was introduced in Lok Sabha on July 18, 2022. This bill was passed by Lok Sabha on 26th July 2022, and it seeks to amend the Family Courts Act, 1984. This bill has granted statutory cover to already established family courts in Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland. 

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Subordinate Courts Indian Judiciary
Family Laws & Custodial Rights What is the purpose of family courts?
Conjugal Rights Important Supreme Court Judgments UPSC

Features of Family Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2022

  • The Bill seeks to extend the scope of the Act for the establishment of Family Courts in the State of Himachal Pradesh with effect from the 15th February 2019 and in the State of Nagaland with effect from the 12th September 2008. 
  • Every order of appointment of a person as a Judge of a Family Court and every order of posting, promotion or transfer, as the case may be, made under this Act in the States of Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland prior to the commencement of the Family Courts (Amendment) Act, 2022 shall be deemed to be validly made under the provisions of this Act.
What is a Family Court?

The Family Court is a special court, which is mainly concerned with resolving family disputes. The Government of India established Family Courts with the objectives that family disputes be dealt with separately from general criminal cases so that they are handled with a humanitarian view and to enable women to approach the court easily without having to appear with general criminals.

The Family Courts Act, 1984

  • The Family Courts Act, 1984 was enacted for the establishment of Family Courts with a view to promote conciliation in, and secure speedy settlement of, disputes relating to marriage and family affairs and for matters connected therewith.
  • The Family Court Act stipulates the establishment of Family Courts by State Governments in every city or town with a population exceeding one million. 
  • The Family Courts Act which was passed in 1984 was part of the trend of legal reforms concerning women. 
  • The President gave his assent to the Family Courts Act on September 14, 1984.
  • The Act provides that persons who are appointed to the family courts should be committed to the need to protect and preserve the institution of marriage and to promote the settlement of disputes by conciliation and counselling. 
  • Preference would also be given to the appointment of women as Family Court Judges. 
  • The Act gives power to each of the High Courts to make rules for the procedure to be followed by the family courts in arriving at settlements and other matters. 
  • The Central Government has been given the power to make rules prescribing additional qualifications for the appointment of a Judge of the family court. 
  • The State Government has also been empowered to make rules providing for, inter alia, the salaries of family court judges, terms and conditions of service of counsellors and other procedural matters.
  • The Act was expected to facilitate satisfactory resolution of disputes concerning the family through a forum, and this forum was expected to work expeditiously, in a just manner and with an approach ensuring maximum welfare of society and dignity of women.
  • The Act also brought civil and criminal jurisdiction under one roof. This was seen as a positive measure to centralize all litigation concerning women.
  • The Act addresses itself to two types of remedies to family disputes, namely:
    • Employment of Family Therapy in order to effect reconciliation or a settlement between the parties to a family dispute, thereby maintaining the ‘Family’ as a cohesive unit.
    • Speedier adjudication of cases where differences between the parties are irreconcilable by not adopting simplified rules of evidence and procedure but also seeking the assistance of professional experts, social welfare organisations or even individuals with expertise in the field of family welfare as provided.
  • The jurisprudence of Family Courts revolves around three broad objectives, namely:
    • To conserve and not disrupt the family life
    • To be helpful and not harmful to individual parents and their children and
    • To be preservative rather than punitive to family and marriage.
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Jurisdiction of the Family Courts in India

Section 7(1) of the Family Court Act, states that the Family Court may adjudicate on the following matters:

  • A suit or proceeding between parties to a marriage for a decree of nullity of marriage in declaring the marriage to be Null and Void or Restitution of Conjugal Rights, Judicial Separation and Dissolution of Marriage. 
  • A suit or proceeding for a declaration to the validity of a marriage or as to the matrimonial status of any person.
  • A suit or proceeding between the parties to a marriage with respect to the property of the parties of either of them.
  • A suit or proceeding for an injunction in the circumstances arising out of a marital relationship.
  • A suit or proceeding for a declaration as to the legitimacy of any person.
  • A suit or proceeding of maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC.
  • A suit or proceeding in relation to the guardianship of a person or the custody of or access to any minor.

Exclusion of Jurisdiction

Once a Family Court is established for an area, its jurisdiction in regard to the matters specified is exclusive. Neither the District Court nor Subordinate Civil Court or Magistrate can have jurisdiction on these matters. 

Family Courts in India

  • As of April 2022, there are 715 Family Courts which are established and functioning in 26 States and Union territories, including three Family Courts in the State of Himachal Pradesh and two Family Courts in the State of Nagaland.
  • The cases related to family and marriage disputes are resolved in the Family Court. The following types of cases are handled in Family Courts:
    • Dissolution of marriage, i.e. divorce-related suits
    • Suits related to the restitution of conjugal rights
    • Suits related to the declaration of marriage as null and void
    • Suits regarding legality or validity of marriages
    • Suits regarding the property of married couples
    • Suits related to maintenance and alimony
    • Suits related to the custody and guardianship of children.

All these cases are resolved in Family Courts. It is necessary that one should have all the relevant information regarding the case before registering it in the Family Court. These laws are applicable to all Indian citizens and the cases are handled according to the personal law of their religion. For example, the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is applied to Hindus, the Muslim Personal Law to Muslims, the Indian Divorce Act to Christians, the Parsi Personal Law to Parsis, etc.

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