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Raghunath Prasad Vs. Smt. Urmila Devi and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily;Civil
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. No. 26 of 1972
Judge
Reported inAIR1973All203
ActsHindu Marriage Act, 1955 - Sections 23(2)
AppellantRaghunath Prasad
RespondentSmt. Urmila Devi and anr.
Appellant AdvocateT.P. Singh and ;S.M.K. Chaudhary, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateG.P. Bhargava and ;A.N. Bhargava, Advs.
Excerpt:
.....between the parties but it failed in the performance of its duty by not requiring the opposite party no. these words indicate that the court should make use of its good offices for bringing about reconciliation between the estranged parties at any stage of the suit whether it is the initial stage or a later stage whenever it finds it possible to do so regard being had to the nature and circumstances of the case. relinquishing the effort in such matters merely on the statement made by the counsel for a party would amount to failure on the part of the court in the performance of a duty enjoined upon it by law. this was clearly not in consonance with the provisions of sub-section (2) of section 23 of the aforesaid act. in my view the requirements of the law were not complied..........on 14th april, 1971, the applicant filed an application before the court below praying that the opposite party no. 1 be directed to produce herself for reconciliation and to produce herself before the lady doctor of civil hospital, varanasi for her medical examination. the opposite party no. 1 filed an objection to the said application on 15-5-1971. she alleged inter alia that as there had been 'chhuttam chutta' (perhaps meaning thereby 'divorce') between the parties the applicant was not entitled to have the medical examination of the opposite party no. 1. it was, however, not alleged in her aforesaid objection that she would not appear before the court in connection with the proposed reconciliation proceedings. on 23-7-1971 the learned district judge after hearing the counsel for.....
Judgment:
ORDER

T.S. Misra, J.

1. This revisional application is directed against the order dated 29-10-1971 passed by the learned District Judge, Varanasi in the case No. 2 of 1971 which has been filed by the applicant claiming a decree against the Opposite Party No. 1 for restitution of conjugal rights.

2. On 14th April, 1971, the applicant filed an application before the court below praying that the Opposite Party No. 1 be directed to produce herself for reconciliation and to produce herself before the lady Doctor of Civil Hospital, Varanasi for her medical examination. The Opposite Party No. 1 filed an objection to the said application on 15-5-1971. She alleged inter alia that as there had been 'chhuttam chutta' (perhaps meaning thereby 'divorce') between the parties the applicant was not entitled to have the medical examination of the Opposite Party No. 1. It was, however, not alleged in her aforesaid objection that she would not appear before the Court in connection with the proposed reconciliation proceedings. On 23-7-1971 the learned District Judge after hearing the counsel for the parties directed the applicant and the Opposite Party No. 1 to be present in person on the next date of hearing which was fixed for 27-8-1971. The case could not, however, be taken up on 27-8-1971 and it was adjourned to 24-9-1971. As the parties were not present in person on 24-9-1971 the case was adjourned to 29-10-1971 for disposal of the aforesaid application and objection and for issues and the parties were required to be present in person. On 29-10-1971 when the case was taken up the counsel for the Opposite Party No. 1 stated that there were absolutely no chances for reconciliation whereupon the learned District Judge ordered that the attendance of the Opposite Party No. 1 in court would not be necessary and he recalled his previous order in this behalf. It is this part of the order of the Court below which is being impugned in this revision.

3. The learned counsel for the applicant contended that as laid down in subsection (2) of Section 23 of the Hindu Marriage Act, it was the duty of the court below to make every endeavour to bring about a reconciliation between the parties but it failed in the performance of its duty by not requiring the Opposite Party No. 1 to appear in person before the Court. It was urged that in the matter of reconciliation the Opposite Party No. 1 should have been directed to appear in person before the court so that the question of reconciliation should have been taken directly with her and the matter should not have been dropped merely on the statement of her counsel. It was, however, argued on behalf of the Opposite Party No. 1, that the statement of her counsel in that behalf was quite sufficient and keeping in view the nature and circumstances of the case the court below was justified in not directing her to appear in person before the Court The contentionof the Opposite Party No. 1, is, however, not tenable. Sub-section (2) of Section 23 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, provides:--

'Before proceeding to grant any relief under this Act, it shall be the duty of the Court, in the first instance, in every case where it is possible to do so consistently with the nature and circumstances of the case, to make every endeavour to bring about a reconciliation between the parties.'

In view of this provision of law, it is the duty of the trial Court to make every endeavour to bring about reconciliation between the parties. This duty is to be performed consistently with the nature and circumstances of the case. The object behind this provision is to provide all help in the maintenance of marital ties and restoration of peace to the estranged couple. Emphasis is, however, laid that steps for bringing about reconciliation between the parties should be taken by the Court 'in the first instance.' In other words, the endeavour should bo made right from the start of the case. This does not, however, mean that the attempt for bringing about reconciliation can be made only at the initial stage of the case and not at any later stage. The effort in that direction should be made by the court whenever the circumstances of the case warrant it to do so. The contention of the learned counsel for the Opposite Party No. 1 that the endeavounr for bringing about reconciliation can be made only after the closure of the final hearing of the case and before the Court proceeds to grant any relief under the Act cannot therefore be sustained. The words 'in the first instance', in subsection (2) of Section 23 do not bear out that contention. These words indicate that the Court should make use of its good offices for bringing about reconciliation between the estranged parties at any stage of the suit whether it is the initial stage or a later stage whenever it finds it possible to do so regard being had to the nature and circumstances of the case. However, if no endeavour is made by the Court though it was possible to do so consistently with the nature and circumstances of the case the Court would be failing to perform a duty which the law enjoins upon it. In a delicate matter pertaining to marital obligations the differences between the parties may be resolved and they may be persuaded to reconcile only when they appear before the court in person and explain their grievances and appreciate the sentiments of each other. As it is a matter very much personal to the parties, their appearance in person before the Court is all the more essential while the Court proceeds to bring about reconciliation between them. A duty is cast upon the Court 'to make every endeavour' to bring about reconciliation. In other words, the Court should make sincere efforts at reconciliation. It should ascertain from the parties themselves as to what brought the rupturain their relations as husband and wife and explore the possibilities of reconciliation between them. This may be achieved only when the parlies appear before the Court in person. Effort for reconciliation cannot be given up merely on the ground that the counsel for one or both the parties had stated that there was absolutely no chance for reconciliation. Relinquishing the effort in such matters merely on the statement made by the counsel for a party would amount to failure on the part of the Court in the performance of a duty enjoined upon it by law.

4. In the case on hand the court below had at first ordered the parties to appear in person. However, on 27th October, 1971, the learned counsel for the Opposite Party No. 1 stated that there were absolutely no chances for reconciliation, whereupon the Court ordered that the attendance of the opposite Party No. 1 would not be necessary and it recalled its previous order in this behalf. This was clearly not in consonance with the provisions of Sub-section (2) of Section 23 of the aforesaid Act. The court below did not direct the Opposite Party No. 1 to appear in person and state about that fact nor did it ask for her personal affidavit. In my view the requirements of the law were not complied with and the Court below failed to perform its duty laid down in the aforesaid provision of the Act.

5. It was next contended by thelearned counsel for the Opposite Party No. 1 that it was within the discretion of the court below not to ask the Opposite Party No. 1 to appear in person and not to proceed with the effort at reconciliation when it was stated on behalf of the Opposite Party No. 1 that there were absolutely no chances for reconciliation. The learned counsel argued that the impugned order being discretionary in nature should not be interfered with in revision. This contention is, however, not sustainable. It is not in the discretion of the Court not to make endeavour to bring about reconciliation. In fact it is the duty of the Court to make every endeavour in that behalf regard being had to the nature and circumstances of the case before proceeding to grant any relief under the said Act. This duty is to be performed, by complying with the requirements of the provisions of law contained in the Sub-section (2) of Section 23 of the Act. Moreover, it was not made out that the alleged discretion was exercised by the Court below in a judicial manner.

6. No other point was urged.

7. The impugned order dated 29-10-1971 is tontaincd in three paragraphs. No arguments were raised before me against those parts of the order which are contained in paragraphs Nos. 2 and 3 and which relate to the injunction restraining the Opposite Party No. 1 from being married elsewhere and the medical examination of the Opposite Party No. 1; hence the same are not set aside. The arguments were confined to that part of the order which is contained in the first paragraph of the impugned order dated 29-10-1971 and which relates to reconciliation matter. For the reasons stated above the order contained in the first paragraph of the impugned order dated 29-10 1971 is liable to be set aside.

8. In the result the revision application is allowed. That part of the order dated 29-10-1971 which is contained in its first paragraph is set aside and the case is sent back to the court below with a direction to act in accordance with law in the light of observations made above. In the circumstances the parties shall bear their costs of this revision. The stay order dated 10-1-1972 is vacated. Record of the case shall be sent back to the court below forthwith.


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