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Smt. Balwant Kunwar and ors. Vs. Addl. Munsiff, Dehra Dun and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily;Civil
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Misc. Writ No. 1120 of 1956
Judge
Reported inAIR1959All7
ActsHindu Marriage Act, 1955 - Sections 9; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Sections 9
AppellantSmt. Balwant Kunwar and ors.
RespondentAddl. Munsiff, Dehra Dun and anr.
Appellant AdvocateS.C. Khare, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateBrijlal Gupta, Adv.
DispositionPetition allowed
Excerpt:
family - jurisdiction of munsif - section 9 of hindu marriage act, 1955 - suit for restitution of conjugal rights - district court alone should deal with matters - relief incidental to restitution of conjugal rights - petitioner to combine both reliefs under one petition - district court competent to grant both reliefs - munsif has no jurisdiction to try the suit for incidental relief. - cantonments act[c.a. no. 41/2006]. section 346 & cantonment fund (servants rules, 1937, rules 13, 14 & 15: [h.l. gokhale, ag. cj, p.v. hardas, naresh h. patil, r.m. borde & r.m. savant, jj] jurisdiction of school tribunal constituted under maharashtra employees of private schools (conditions of service) regulations act, (3 of 1978) held, school run by the cantonment board is a primary school and it is..........act shall be presented to the district court within the local limits of whose ordinary original civil jurisdiction the marriage was solemnized or the husband and wife reside or last resided together.'it may be noted that both sections 9 and 19 emphasize that, a petition for restitution of conjugal rights ought to be presented to the district court.12. section 29 deals with savings, section 29(3) states:'nothing contained in this act shall affect any proceeding under any law for the time being in force for declaring any marriage to be null and void or for annulling or dissolving any marriage or for judicial separation pending at the commencement of this act, and any such proceeding may be continued and determined as if this act had not been passed.'13. section 29(3) saves pending.....
Judgment:
ORDER

V.G. Oak, J.

1. The question raised in this petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution is whether, in view of the enactment of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (hereinafter referred to as the Act, or the 1955 Act), a Munsif has jurisdiction to entertain a suit for restitution of conjugal rights where the parties are Hindus.

2. Ranjit Singh filed suit No, 306 of 1955 in the Court of Munsif, Dehra Dun against Smt. Bal-want Kunwar, Bakshish Singh and Inder Kunwar. Defendant No. 1 is plaintiff's wife. Defendant No. 2 and defendant No. 3 are her brother and mother respectively. The reliefs claimed by the plaintiff are :

(a) a decree against the defendant No. 1 directing her to live with the plaintiff and to allow him a free exercise of his conjugal rights:

(b) an injunction restraining the defendantsNos. 2 and 3 from preventing the defendant No. 1from coming to the plaintiff's house.

3. Various pleas were raised in defence. One of the pleas was that the Court has no jurisdiction to try the suit. The learned Munsif took up issue No. 1 as a preliminary issue on a question of law. On 18-4-1956 he passed an order deciding the issue in plaintiff's favour. The learnedMunsif held that he had jurisdiction to try a suit for restitution of conjugal rights.

The defendants are not satisfied with this decision dated 18-4-1956. They maintain that inview of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the suit is not maintainable. Hence the present application under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution.

4. It appears that the parties are Sikhs. According to Clause (b) of Sub-section (1) of Section 2 of the Act, the Act applies to Sikhs also. So the present par-hies are governed by the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

5. Section 9 of the Act deals with restitution of conjugal rights. Section 9 states-

'(1) When either the husband or the wife has, without reasonable excuse, withdrawn from the society of the other, the aggrieved party may apply, by petition to the district court, for restitution of conjugal rights and the court, on being satisfied of the truth of the statements made in such petition and that there is no legal ground why the application should not be granted may decree restitution of conjugal rights accordingly.

(2) Nothing shall be pleaded in answer to a petition for restitution of conjugal rights which Khali not be a ground for judicial separation or for nullity of marriage or for divorce'. The petitioners' contention is that the plaintiffs only remedy was to file a petition under Section 9 of the Act, and a suit was not maintainable in 'the Munsif's Court.

6. Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure deals with the general jurisdiction of Civil Courts. Section 9, Civil Procedure Code states:

'The Courts shall (subject to the provisions herein contained) have jurisdiction to try all suits of a civil nature excepting suits of which theircognizance is either expressly or impliedly barred'.

Before 1955 Munsifs had jurisdiction to try suits for restitution of conjugal rights. The question for consideration is whether that jurisdiction has been expressly or by implication taken away , by the 1955 Act.

7. In Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee Amritsar v. Shiv Ratan Dev Singh, (S) AIR 1955 SC 576 (A), their Lordships of the Supreme Court laid down that, the exclusion of jurisdiction of the Civil Court in respect of a suit which is normally within its competence can be brought about only by clear and unambiguous language or by the necessary implication thereof.

8. In the commentary on the Code of Civil Procedure by Chitaley and Rao, 6th edition, the learned authors observe on pages 212 and 213 as follows:

'The mere fact that the enactment provides another remedy or a summary remedy will not constitute a bar to a suit in a Civil Court. Nor will the jurisdiction of a Civil Court be ousted unless the entire suit, as brought, is barred. The mere fact that a portion of the claim is excluded from the jurisdiction of Civil Court is no bar to the trial, by them, of another portion of the same suit which is not so excluded .....

If there is any doubt about the ousting of the jurisdiction of an existing Court, the Court will lean to such an interpretation which would maintain the existing jurisdiction.'

Again on page 255:

'It is also a general principle that where two proceedings or two remedies are available under the law, one of them must not be taken as operating in derogation of the other.'

9. In order to decide whether jurisdiction of Munsifs to try claims for restitution of conjugal rights has been taken away by the 1955 Act, it will be necessary to examine the general scheme of the Act. According to the preamble, this is an Act to amend and codify the law relating to marriage among Hindus. The preamble suggests that Parliament intended to codify the law relating to marriage among Hindus. Section 4 of the Act deals with the overriding effect of the Act. According, to Clause (b) of Section 4

'any other law in force immediately before the commencement of this Act shall cease to have effect in so far as it is inconsistent with any off the provisions contained in this Act'.

10. Part III of the Act deals with restitution of conjugal rights and judicial separation. Section 9 dealing with restitution of conjugal rights has already been quoted. Section 10 provides for petition for obtaining Judicial separation. Before 1955 the general Hindu Law did not recognize judicial separation among Hindus. The 1955 Act recognizes the right of judicial separation among Hindus.

Before 1955 a Hindu in general could not institute a suit in a Munsifs Court for judicial separation. There is nothing in the Act to suggest that, after 1955 a Munsif can try a suit for judicial separation. If a Munsif cannot try a suit for judicial separation, there is no special reason why a Munsif must have power to try a suit for restitution of conjugal rights.

11. Part IV of the Act deals with nullity of marriage and divorce. Section 11 deals with void marriages. Mr. Brij Lal Gupta appearing for the plaintiff pointed out that, Section 11 mentions marriages solemnized after the commencement of the Act, and does not mention marriages solemnized before the commencement of the Act. Section 12 deals with voidable marriages. Section 12 deals with both types of marriages solemnized before or after the commencement of the Act. Part V of the Act deals with jurisdiction and procedure. Section 19 states:

'Every petition presented under this Act shall be presented to the district court within the local limits of whose ordinary original civil jurisdiction the marriage was solemnized or the husband and wife reside or last resided together.'

It may be noted that both Sections 9 and 19 emphasize that, a petition for restitution of conjugal rights ought to be presented to the district court.

12. Section 29 deals with savings, Section 29(3) states:

'Nothing contained in this Act shall affect any proceeding under any law for the time being in force for declaring any marriage to be null and void or for annulling or dissolving any marriage or for judicial separation pending at the commencement of this Act, and any such proceeding may be continued and determined as if this Act had not been passed.'

13. Section 29(3) saves pending proceedings in certain cases. If a divorce suit was pending from before 1955, such a suit may be continued in spite of the passing of the Act. Section 29(3) suggests that it would not be possible to institute-a fresh suit for divorce in a Munsif's Court after the commencement of the Act. Section 29(3) makes no reference to a suit for restitution of con-jugal rights. The Act came into force in May 1955. The present suit was filed in August 1955, i. e., after the commencement of the Act. Since the present suit was filed after the commencement of the Act, Section 29(3) has no application to the present case.

14. It will be useful to compare the provisions of the 1955 Act with the Indian Divorce Act (Act IV of 1869). Section 4 of the Indian Divorce Act deals with matrimonial jurisdiction. Section 4 states:

'The jurisdiction now exercised by the High Courts in respect of divorce 'a mense et toro', and in all other causes, suits and matters matrimonial, shall be exercised by such Courts and by the District Courts subject to the provisions in this Act contained, and not otherwise: .....'

The expression 'not otherwise' appearing in Section 4suggests that, Civil Judges and Munsifs have nojurisdiction to try matters dealt with in the IndianDivorce Act. Section 10 of the Indian DivorceAct provides for a petition by a husband or awife for dissolution of marriage. Section 18 providesfor a petition by husband or a wife for declarationabout nullity of marriage. Section 23 deals with apetition for judicial separation. Section 32 dealswith a petition for restitution of conjugal rights.Section 32, Indian Divorce Act states :

'When either the husband or the wife has, without reasonable excuse withdrawn from the society of the other, either wife or husband may apply, by petition to the District Court or the High Court, for restitution of conjugal rights, and the Court, on being satisfied of the truth of the statements made in such petition, and that there is, no legal ground why the application should not be granted, may decree restitution of conjugal rights accordingly.'

The language of Sub-section (1) of Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is similar to the language of Section 32 of the Indian Divorce Act. It is true that the language of Section 19 of the 1955 Act is different from the language of Section 4 of the Indian Divorce Act. But the 1955 Act follows the general pattern of the Indian Divorce Act.

15. Mr. Brij Lal Gupta contended that Section 9 of the 1955 Act merely provides for a summary remedy. This summary remedy is in addition to the rights of a party to file a regular suit. Section 21 of the Act deals with the application of the Code of Civil Procedure:

'Subject to the other provisions contained in this Act and to such rules as the High Court may make in this behalf, all proceedings under this Act shall be regulated, as far as may be, by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.'

Section 9 lays down that, if the petitioner makes out a case, the District Court may decree restitution of conjugal rights. Section 28 provides for appeals from such decrees. Thus the procedure in a petition filed under Section 9 of the Act is practically the same as in a regular suit. There is no particular reason for treating a petition under Section 9 of the Act as a summary proceeding.

Mr. Brij Lal Gupta urged that, according to Sub-section (2) of Section 9 of the Act, only particular pleas can be raised in defence in such a petition. He contended that it would be possible to raise in regular suit pleas, which are not allowed under Section 9(2) of the Act.

16. The consequence of treating petitions under the Act as summary proceedings would be this. A party would be entitled to file a regular suit in addition to a petition under the Act. Aperson who has lost in a petition under Section 9 of the Act, would be entitled to file a regular suit in the Munsif's Court. In such a situation a Munsif may have to record findings, which are in conflict with the finding of the District Court in a petition under Section 9 of the Act. I do not think that Parliament envisaged such a situation.

17. It has been noted that, it was the intention of Parliament to codify the law relating to marriage among Hindus. It appears that Parliament intended to deal exhaustively with marriages and allied questions. It appears that Parliament concluded that, restitution of conjugal rights, nullity of marriages, judicial separation and divorce are serious matters.

Junior officers should not be entrusted with such serious matters. It was, therefore decided that the District Court alone should deal with such important questions. It was, therefore, laid down in the Act that, such reliefs may be obtained by filing petitions before the District Court. I agree with Mr. Brijlal Gupta that, there are in the Act no express words taking away the jurisdiction of civil Judges and Munsifs.

At the same time the scheme of the Act suggests that, the District Court alone should deal with such matters. The District Court has been given exclusive jurisdiction with respect to restitution of conjugal rights, judicial separation, nullity of marriage and divorce. By implication, a Munsif has no jurisdiction to entertain a suit for restitution of conjugal rights.

18. There are two reliefs in the plaint. The first relief claimed by the plaintiff is for a decree against defendant No. 1 directing her to live with the plaintiff and to allow him a free exercise of his conjugal rights. In short, the plaintiff asks for a decree agninst defendant No. 1 for restitution of conjugal rights. Relief (a) is obviously covered by Section 9 of the Act. The learned Munsif has no jurisdiction to grant relief (a).

19. Relief (b) is:--

'An injunction restraining the defendants Nos. 2 and 3 from preventing the defendant No. 1 from coming to the plaintiff's house.'

Mr. Brij Lal Gupta urged that relief (b) does not fall under Section 9 of the Act; and so the Munsif has jurisdiction to grant relief (b) at least. The words used in Section 9 of the Act are:

'..... The husband ..... mayapply, by petition to the District Court, for restitution of conjugal rights .....'

Section 9 does not lay down that, a petition by the husband can be directed against the wife only. The plaintiff's case is that defendants Nos. 2 and 3 are preventing defendant No. 1 from returning to the plaintiff's house. Relief (b) mentioned in the plaint is incidental to the relief (a) in the plaint.

It was open to the plaintiff to combine both these reliefs (a) and (b) in a petition under Section 9 of the Act. If such a petition is filed, the District Court would be competent to grant both the reliefs (a) and (b) to the plaintiff-petitioner. So, both reliefs (a) and (b) are covered by Section 9 of the Act. The learned Munsif has no jurisdiction to try the suit as regards relief (b) also.

20. Since the Munsif has no jurisdiction to try the suit at all, this is a fit case for issuing a writ in the nature of prohibition. The question of jurisdiction is not free from difficulty. Parties may, therefore, be directed to bear their own costs.

21. The petition is allowed. Proceedings in suit No. 306 of 1955 pending before the learned Additional Munsif, Dehra Dun are quashed. Parties shall bear their own costs.


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