HC paves way for Family Court to lay down own procedure

The Madras High Court on Thursday observed that there are sufficient legal provisions for the Family Court to lay down its own procedure to reach a settlement or to get to the bottom of matrimonial disputes.

The High Court bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan and Justice M Sathyanarayanan made this observation while dismissing a PIL filed by advocate Sudha Ramalingam.

“On verification from the Registrar General of Madras High Court, we are informed that there is no circular issued for any prior permission to be obtained from the High Court through Registrar General to record evidence through video conferencing by the Family Court,” said the bench.

“Thus, a discretion is vested with the family court itself to record evidence through the process of video conferencing and under Section 10(3) of the said Act, the family court is empowered to lay down its own procedure to arrive at a settlement or to get the truth of the matter. It is not possible to issue any general direction which would affect the judicial discretion of the court under the said Act,” the bench said.

The petitioner appealed that the court should issue direction to the Registrar General and the Law Secretary, to enact concrete viable rules for all parties appearing in the family courts through video conferencing.

“Number of mutual consent petitions and cases in which both parties have agreed are all kept in abeyance with no progress due to the present dilemma and decision not to allow such course of video conference,” the petitioner argued.

The High Court, while dismissing the petition, cited the ruling by another division bench of the high court and said: “the first appearance of parties should take place in these family court proceedings to obviate possibility of impersonation. Thus, it is not possible to issue any general direction which would affect the judicial discretion of the family court under the said Act.”

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