Expedition is the Mantra that Must Guide Family Courts – Justice Gita Mittal

Expedition is the Mantra that Must Guide Family Courts – Justice Gita Mittal

Saurav Datta

Speaking at the inauguration of the Family Court at the Karkardooma Court Complex in North-East Delhi on 19 July, Justice Gita Mittal, Acting Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court said that family courts must render compassionate and just decisions without falling into the trap of inordinate delays.

To buttress her point, she quoted from Chief Guest the Supreme Court’s Justice Dipak Misra’s 2014 decision in Bhuwan Mohan Singh v Meena :

“The Family Judge is expected to be sensitive to the issues, for he is dealing with extremely delicate and sensitive issues pertaining to the marriage and issues ancillary thereto. When we say this, we do not mean that the Family Courts should show undue haste or impatience, but there is a distinction between impatience and to be wisely anxious and conscious about dealing with a situation. A Family Court Judge should remember that the procrastination is the greatest assassin of the lis before it. It not only gives rise to more family problems but also gradually builds unthinkable and Everestine bitterness. It leads to the cold refrigeration of the hidden feelings, if still left.

The delineation of the lis by the Family Judge must reveal the awareness and balance. Dilatory tactics by any of the parties has to be sternly dealt with, for the Family Court Judge has to be alive to the fact that the lis before him pertains to emotional fragmentation and delay can feed it to grow. We hope and trust that the Family Court Judges shall remain alert to this and decide the matters as expeditiously as possible keeping in view the Objects and Reasons of the Act and the scheme of various provisions pertaining to grant of maintenance, divorce, custody of child, property disputes, etc.” 

Justice Mittal said that Family Court judges must be empathetic to the precarious plight of litigants especially because emotions of spousal animosity dominate over those of love and understanding. On the face of it, decision- making in family cases seems easy, but in reality they are difficult because there is no objective evidence – everything is not only subjective but also relative, she said. Hence, judges to man these court must must be appointed with extreme care and caution and continuously sensitised.

Quoting Justice Misra, she said that family judges must build a rapport with the parties before them, and emphasize upon “rationalisation of emotions” so that an amicable solution can be arrived at.

Praising the Delhi High Court’s e-courts project started by Justice B.D. Ahmed, Justice Mittal expressed hope that it would scale newer heights under the present stewardship and guidance of Justice S. Muralidhar. She expressed optimism about all family courts being soon brought within the ambit of the project, and the extension of video-conferencing facilities to be made available so that litigants and their cases were not impeded by the factor of distance from the courtroom.

Considering the constant requests for increase in the number of Family Courts, upon recommendation of the Delhi High Court, six more Family Courts stood sanctioned by the Government including one each at Shahdara, East and North-East Districts in Karkardooma. These six courts, added to the already existing fifteen courts, brings the total count of Family Courts to twenty-one.

Justice Hima Kohli, Chairperson, Family Courts Committee of the Delhi High Court, along with other judges who are members of the committee, also graced the occasion.

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news