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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The Family Courts Act of 1984 is modified by the Family Courts (Amendment) Bill of 2022. 
  • State governments may create Family Courts under the Act.
  •  Dates for the Act's implementation in various states may be announced by the federal government. 
  • In accordance with the Act, the governments of Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland established Family Courts in their respective states. 
  • The Act has not, however, been made applicable to any of these states by the federal government.

INTRODUCTION 

The Amendment Act proposes to alter the Act of 1984 by adding a proviso to Section 1(3) to allow for the creation of Family Courts in the States of Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland, respectively, beginning on February 15, 2019, and September 12, 2008, respectively. Additionally, it aims to include a new section 3A that will retroactively legalize all actions performed by the Family Courts and State governments of Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland under the aforementioned Act before the Family Courts (Amendment) Act of 2022 took effect.

FURTHER DETAILS

Important aspects of the Bill

By adding a provision to Section 1 of the Family Courts Act, the Bill will alter that law. With effect from the dates the family courts were established, the proposed new Section 3A of the amendment expands the application of the Act to Himachal Pradesh (2019) and Nagaland (2008). The Family Courts (Amendment) Act, which will take effect in 2022, would seek to legalize all measures taken by the State Governments of Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland and the Family Courts of those states in accordance with the aforementioned Act previous to that date. Additionally, it states that any appointments of family court judges and any postings, promotions, or transfers made in accordance with the Act will be legal in both States.

The 1984 Family Courts Act

For the purpose of establishing Family Courts, the Family Courts Act, 1984 was passed in order to encourage negotiation and provide a prompt resolution of conflicts involving marriage, family, and related issues. According to the Family Court Act, any city or town with a population of more than one million must have a family court established by the state government. The Family Courts Act, passed in 1984, was a component of the general trend of legislative changes affecting women. On September 14, 1984, the Family Courts Act received the president's approval. According to the Act, those nominated to the family courts must be dedicated to the need to safeguard and uphold the institution of marriage and to encourage the resolution of disputes through mediation and counselling. Additionally, women would be preferred for the position of Family Court Judges. The Act allows each of the High Courts the authority to establish regulations for the process that family courts must follow in order to reach settlements and resolve other issues. The Central Government has the authority to enact regulations that specify additional requirements for the appointment of a family court judge. 

Additionally, the State Government has the authority to enact regulations governing, among other things, the compensation of family court judges, the terms and conditions of employment for counsellors, and other procedural issues. The Act was intended to provide a forum that would swiftly, justly, and with an attitude that ensured the greatest welfare of society and the dignity of women, assist in the satisfactory resolution of family-related problems. Additionally, the Act combined criminal and civil jurisdiction. The decision to consolidate all cases involving women was viewed favorably. The Act deals with two different sorts of family dispute resolutions, including the use of family therapy to bring about peace or a resolution between the parties involved and keep the "Family" together as a whole. Instead of implementing streamlined rules of evidence and process, quicker adjudication of instances when the parties cannot come to an agreement is achieved by consulting professionals, social welfare organizations, or even individuals with knowledge in the area of family welfare as supplied.

Why was the Amendment Needed?

  • There are 715 family courts that have been formed and are now operating in 26 States and Union territories, including two family courts in Nagaland and three in Himachal Pradesh.
  • However, the Central Government did not issue a notification for the aforementioned Act to take effect in Himachal or Nagaland.
  • The State of Himachal Pradesh's Family Courts' lack of jurisdiction has been contested before the Himachal Pradesh High Court.
  • As the Central Government has not released any notification extending the authority of Family Courts to the State of Himachal Pradesh, it was claimed that these Courts are operating without authority and that anything done or any action taken in accordance with the aforementioned Act appears to be null and void from the beginning (Having no legal effect from inception).
  • Since 2008, the family courts in Nagaland have also been working without any legal jurisdiction.

On July 18, 2022, the Family Courts (Amendment) Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha. The Family Courts Act of 1984 is modified by the bill. State governments may create Family Courts under the Act. Dates for the Act's implementation in various states may be announced by the federal government. In accordance with the Act, the governments of Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland established Family Courts in their respective states. The Act's applicability to these states has not, however, been expanded by the federal government.

Application of the Act in Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland: According to the proposed legislation, the application of the Act will be extended to the states of Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland, respectively, beginning on February 15, 2019, and September 12, 2008, respectively. From these dates forward, both states' family court systems will be in operation. All activities conducted in accordance with the Act in both states, such as judicial appointments and orders and judgments rendered by the Family Courts, will likewise be considered to be legitimate going forward from these dates.

What modification has been suggested?

With effect from the dates the family courts were established, the proposed new Section 3A expands the scope of the Act's applicability to Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland. All actions, appointments, and notifications made under the Act in Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland prior to the start of the modification are considered legitimate under Section 3A. According to the text, all appointments of family court judges and any postings, promotions, or transfers made in accordance with the Act shall be legal in both States.

CONCLUSION

The bill aims to make provisions for the creation of family courts in the states of Nagaland and Himachal Pradesh starting on September 12, 2008, and February 15, 2019, respectively. Additionally, it aims to include a new Section 3A that will retroactively legitimize all actions made by the state governments of Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland as well as their respective family courts under the aforementioned Act before the Family Courts (Amendment) Act of 2022 took effect. The measure stipulates that any appointments of family court judges, as well as any postings, promotions, or transfers made in accordance with the Act, will be valid in both States.
 


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