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Bill granting statutory cover to family courts in Himachal, Nagaland gets Parliament nod  


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NEW DELHI: Parliament on Thursday passed a bill granting statutory cover to family courts set up in Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland and retrospectively validating all actions taken by them.

Rajya Sabha passed the Family Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2022 by a voice vote amid sloganeering by the Opposition, led by Congress members who alleged misuse of the Enforcement Directorate by the government.

In reply to the discussion on the bill, Minister of Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju stressed on the need to have the legislation passed considering the long list of pending cases.

There are at present 715 family courts in the country with over 11 lakh pending cases, he said, adding the emphasis of the government is to have at least one family court in each district so that there could be speedy disposal of the cases.

According to the Family Court Act of 1984, it is mandatory for a state government to set up a family court for every city or a town whose population exceeds one million. Rijiju also said the Centre has already asked judicial officers to give importance to family matters.

In India, marriage is not only a getting together of two individuals but it is an union of families and communities and when a marriage breaks down the whole structure crumbles, he said.

The minister said he wanted to have a detailed discussion on the important bill but the way the Opposition, specially Congress members, are behaving, it won't be possible. Lok Sabha had passed the bill last week.

The Family Courts (Amendment) Bill seeks to insert a provision in sub-section 3 of section 1 to provide for setting up family courts in Himachal Pradesh with effect from February 15, 2019 and in Nagaland with effect from September 12, 2008.

The bill also seeks to insert a new section 3A to retrospectively validate all actions under the act taken by the governments of Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland and the family courts of these states.

Two family courts were established in Nagaland in 2008 and three in Himachal Pradesh in 2019 through notifications issued by the respective state governments.

The issue of lack of jurisdiction of the family courts in Himachal Pradesh came to the fore during proceedings of the Himachal Pradesh High Court last year.

Another petition in the Himachal Pradesh High Court stated that the central government had not issued any notification extending the Family Court Act to Himachal Pradesh and the state government directives to establish such courts were without any legal authority.

The Family Courts Act was enacted to set up family courts to promote conciliation and secure speedy settlement of disputes related to marriage and family affairs.

Earlier, taking part in the discussion, Saroj Pandey (BJP), Ram Nath Thakur JD(U), and AD Singh supported the bill.

Similarly, Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar (TDP) supported the bill but said there is no mention in it about the time limit for disposal of cases. M Thambidurai (AIADMK) also made a similar demand.

As soon as the bill was cleared, Deputy Chairman Harivansh adjourned the House for the day.

Earlier in the day, the proceedings were also adjourned for an hour till 12 PM as Congress members created uproar over the issue of alleged misuse of central probe agencies by the government.

Leader of the Opposition and senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge charged that autonomous bodies were being misused by the government to settle political scores, an allegation that was countered by Treasury benches. This led to heated exchanges between MPs of the two sides.

(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)