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Thursday, September 26, 2013

conciliation/mediation = Undoubtedly, both the parties were minor at the time when the respondent claims that they were married. She further alleges that she gave birth to a daughter when the parties lived together as husband and wife. Respondent filed a suit with a prayer that the appellant be restrained from marrying anyone else during her life time. She also filed another suit claiming that she and her daughter are entitled to 1/3rd share of the property owned by the appellant and his father. She, therefore, prayed for a perpetual injunction restraining the appellant and his father from alienating the suit property.- Paramount duty of the Court in matrimonial matters should be to restore peace in the family. The attitude should not be to further encourage the parties to litigate. Only as a last resort the Court ought to decide the suit/proceeding on merits. Therefore, we are unable to approve the observations made by the High Court in the impugned judgment. In that view of the matter, the appeal is allowed; the observations made in Para 4 of the impugned judgment are deleted.

    published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40831
                                                              REPORTABLE


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8572 OF 2013
      [Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.26148 of 2011]


           BHEEMRAYA                              ...APPELLANT


                                 VERSUS


           SUNEETHA                               ...RESPONDENT


                                    ORDER


                 Delay condoned.


                 Leave granted.


                 We have heard the  learned  counsel  for  the  parties  at
           length.


                 Undoubtedly, both the parties were minor at the time  when
           the respondent claims  that  they  were  married.  
 She  further
           alleges that she gave birth to a daughter when the parties lived
           together as husband and wife.


                 
Respondent filed a suit with a prayer that  the  appellant
           be restrained from marrying anyone else during  her  life  time.
           
She also filed another suit claiming that she and  her  daughter
           are entitled to  1/3rd  share  of  the  property  owned  by  the
           appellant  and  his  father.   She,  therefore,  prayed  for   a
           perpetual injunction restraining the appellant  and  his  father
           from alienating the suit property.
                                                                      ...2/-








                                     :2:


                 In the two suits filed by the respondent, the trial  Court
           in spite of recording findings of fact that parties  were  minor
           at the time of the alleged marriage, proceeded to decide the two
           suits  on  merits.   
The  first  appellate  Court  affirmed  the
           findings of the trial Court in both the suits.


                 The respondent filed two Regular  Second  Appeals  in  the
           High Court.
The finding that  the  plaintiff  (respondent)  was
           minor at the time of the  marriage  was  affirmed  by  the  High
           Court.  
However,  the  High   Court   held   that   since   the
           plaintiff/respondent was a minor, at the  time  when  the  suits were filed, they were not  maintainable.  
Therefore,  the  trial
           Court had no jurisdiction to decide the  same  on  merits.  
The
           findings recorded on merits were set aside.
The Regular  Second
           Appeals were partly allowed as indicated above.


                 The respondent had also filed a petition under  Section  9
           of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, which was dismissed.  She  then
           filed Misc. First Appeal No.31408 of 2009,  in  which  the  High
           Court  passed   the  impugned  order,   dismissing   the   same.
           Whilst
                                                                      ...3/-








                                     :3:
           dismissing the appeal,
the High  Court  held  that  in  view  of
           Section 5(iii) of the Hindu Marriage  Act,  1955,  clearly,  the
           marriage would be void.  
In view of this finding, the High Court
           further observed that it would be  open  to  the  respondent  to
           initiate criminal proceedings for prosecution of  the  appellant
           for an offence punishable under Section 376 of the Indian  Penal
           Code.  In our opinion, the  High  Court  was  not  justified  in
           making  such  observations.   
The  only  relief  sought  by  the
           respondent  was  for  restitution   of   conjugal   rights   and
           maintenance for the child.  
The High Court had rightly  observed
           that  even  an  illegitimate  child   would   be   entitled   to
           maintenance.  
The  High  Court  failed   to   appreciate   that
 essentially it was seized of a matrimonial dispute  between  the
 parties.  
The attitude of the Court  in  such   matters   should be to encourage and persuade the parties to reconcile.   
It  was
           an ideal case to be referred to  conciliation/mediation.  Having
           perused all  the  orders  in  various  proceedings  between  the
           parties, we do not see any reference to any effort made  by  the
           Court  to  adopt  such  a  course. Instead the
                                                                      ...4/-






                                     :4:
           observations made in Paragraph 4 of the impugned judgment  would
           push the parties further into conflict.
Paramount duty  of  the
           Court in matrimonial matters should be to restore peace  in  the
           family.  The attitude should not be  to  further  encourage  the
           parties to litigate.  
Only as a last resort the Court  ought  to
           decide the suit/proceeding on merits.  
Therefore, we are  unable
           to approve the observations made  by  the  High   Court  in  the
           impugned judgment.


                 In that view of the matter, the  appeal  is  allowed;  the
           observations made  in  Para  4  of  the  impugned  judgment  are
           deleted.


                 No costs.




                                                     ....................,J.
                                                     (SURINDER SINGH NIJJAR)




                                           ..............................,J.
                                          (FAKKIR MOHAMED IBRAHIM KALIFULLA)
           NEW DELHI
           SEPTEMBER 23, 2013

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