New Delhi: Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed a bill to grant statutory cover to family courts set up in Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland and retrospectively validate all actions taken by them, with Law Minister Kiren Rijiju saying that he would requests all state governments to set up one family court in every district.
Responding to a debate on the Family Court (Amendment) Bill, 2022, he said there are at present 715 family courts in the country with 11,49,907 cases pending at the beginning May.
“I am telling you the record till May, 69,464 new cases have been registered. I am giving you the statistics of the month of May. 75,386 cases have been disposed,” he said.
According to the Family Court Act of 1984, it is mandatory for the state government to set up a family court for every city or a town whose population exceeds one million.
Rijiju said he would request the state government to set up family courts in every district.
The Family Courts Act was enacted to set up family courts to promote conciliation and secure a speedy settlement of disputes related to marriage and family affairs.
Two family courts were established in Nagaland in 2008 and three in Himachal Pradesh in 2019 through notifications issued by the respective state governments.
The issue of lack of jurisdiction of the family courts in Himachal Pradesh came to the fore during proceedings of the Himachal Pradesh High Court last year.
Another petition in the Himachal Pradesh High Court stated that the central government had not issued any notification extending the Family Court Act to Himachal Pradesh and the state government directives to establish such courts were without any legal authority.
The family courts in Nagaland too were operating without any legal authority since 2008.
The Family Courts (Amendment) Bill seeks to insert a provision in sub-section 3 of section 1 to provide for the establishment of family courts in Himachal Pradesh with effect from February 15, 2019 and in Nagaland with effect from September 12, 2008.
The bill also seeks to insert a new section 3A to retrospectively validate all actions under the said Act taken by the governments of Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland and the family courts of those states.
Defending the amendment, he said it would be incorrect to blame the Centre for not bringing the notification as the state governments seek permission for setting up such courts.
“If the government had not brought this amendment today, that what would have been the plight of those thousands of cases which are still pending. If we don’t do retrospective then what would be plight of those thousands cases whose decision has already been taken. It is our responsibility to validate those. Therefore this amendment is retrospective for all purpose,” he said.
Setting up family courts and their functioning fall within the domain of the state governments in consultation with the respective high courts.