The Kerala High Court on Thursday held that parties to a void marriage can approach family courts for redressing their grievances. [Joseph AU v. Princy PJ].A division bench of Justices Anu Sivaraman and C Pratheep Kumar went through the provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 and the Family Courts Act, 1984 to arrive at the decision."From a conjoined reading of Section 24 (1)(i) of Special Marriage Act and Explanation (a) to Section 7(1) of the Family Courts Act, it is evident that a marriage which is void, as defined under Section 24 of the Special Marriage Act, will remain valid for all practical purposes, unless it is annulled in a suit or proceedings before the Family Court. In other words, from the above provisions, it can also be safely concluded that even the parties to a void marriage can approach the Family Court for redressing their grievance", the Court held in its judgment. .The judgment was rendered on an appeal moved by a man challenging the order of a family court which directed him to pay a sum of over ₹3 lakh plus interest to his wife. The appellant and his wife got married in 2016 as per the provisions of the Special Marriage Act, after which his wife returned to Canada where she was employed. She then arranged a student visa for the appellant. The appellant could pay a sum of ₹7 lakh for his studies so his wife paid the balance of ₹15 lakhs as well as his flight fares. Once both parties were in Canada, their marital relationship became strained.The wife moved the family court alleging that the appellant had appropriated 15 sovereigns of gold oranaments and that he had repaid only a sum of ₹8 lakh. She sought a sum of ₹3.3 lakh for the value of the gold and another sum of over ₹3 lakh for the amount spent on the appellant's education.The family court rejected the claim for the price of the gold but allowed ordered the appellant to pay the remainder of the sum due for his education. .This prompted the appellant to move the High Court where he submitted that the marriage between him and his wife was void because at the time of marriage, the wife's earlier marriage had not been dissolved. Therefore, he argued that the subject matter in the dispute does not come within the purview of the Family Courts Act. Instead, only an ordinary civil court could have considered the issue, the appellant contended. .The High Court noted that Section 24(1)(i) of the Special Marriage Act provides that "if at the time of marriage if either party had a spouse living, the said marriage shall be null and void and may, on a petition presented by either party thereto against the other party, be so declared by a decree of nullity".It then noted that Explanation (a) to Section 7(1) of the Family Courts Act reads as "a suit or proceeding between the parties to a marriage for a decree of nullity of marriage (declaring the marriage to be null and void or, as the case may be, annulling the marriage) or restitution of conjugal rights or judicial separation or dissolution of marriage".From a conjoint reading of these two provisions, the Court held that the family court had the jurisdiction to entertain the wife's plea in this case.After going through the material on record, the High Court found no reason to alter the order of the family court and accordingly, dismissed the appeal..The appellant-husband was represented by advocates Krishna Prasad S, Sindhu S Kamath, Swapna SK, Rohini Nair, and Suraj Jumar D. The respondent-wife was represented by advocate MA Zohra.