In 2014, taking note of the undue delay in granting maintenance and alimony in divorce cases under the Hindu Marriage Act, the Delhi High Court had directed the lower courts to ensure that the trial in the matrimonial dispute cases be completed within six months as prescribed by the Act. The court then said,
Section 21-B of the Hindu Marriage Act provides for an expeditious trial — to be concluded within a period of six months. However, the disposal of petitions before the trial courts take many years.
However, recently Madras High Court has dismissed a contempt petition filed against a family court judge remarking:
The judges of the Family Court (Family Court) are in judicial suffocation.
- A woman had filed a case under Section 125 Cr.P.C. against her husband, claiming maintenance and the said case was pending on the file of the III Additional Family Court, Chennai (for brevity “the Family Court”)
- Since the family court did not clear the case as per the Madras High Court directive to settle the case within 6 months, the woman filed a contempt petition against the Judge of the Family Court alleging that they did not comply with the High Court instructions
- When the matter was listed on August 16 this year, there was no representation from the petitioner and therefore, this Court directed the Registrar to post the matter under the caption “for dismissal” on August 20
- On the date of dismissal, when Madras HC questioned the woman’s counsel about maintaining contempt case / proceedings against the family court judge, the learned counsel stated that the Supreme Court had recently taken action against a former judge
To this argument, Justice P.N. Prakash said,
It is indeed very sad and unfortunate that a lawyer who claims to practice in the Supreme Court is unaware of the circumstances under which the Supreme Court took action in the case referred to by him. This cannot be cited as a precedent for action against a Judge of the Family Court for not disposing of the case as directed.
The court further stated,
Whenever a court subordinate to the High Court, determined by the High Court is unable to complete a case within the time limit, the concerned judge requests extension of time, which is normally granted.
Noting that this petition has been filed only to terrorise a family court judge, the court observed,
In the opinion of this court, this petition is filed only to terrorize a family court judge. We are aware of the fact that although Chennai has six Family Courts, each Family Court is so burdened with marital disputes that the Family Court Judges are subject to judicial suffocation.
Therefore, this petition is eligible to be dismissed with exemplary costs. However, in view of the fact that the petitioner may suffer damages due to improper advice given by his counsel, this court is not imposing costs.
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