The Delhi High Court recently cautioned Family Courts against closing the "valuable" right to file a written statement or to lead evidence or to cross-examine any witness in undue haste.
Justice J.R. Midha highlighted the importance as well as difficulty in ascertaining the truth in matrimonial litigations, and observed, "This Court is of the view that it is the duty of the Courts to search the truth and then do justice; this is the very object for which Courts are created. The Courts have to remove chaff from the grain to separate falsehood from truth. The matrimonial litigation begins with parties mounting claims on each other, which are often exaggerated and are magnified to such an extent that the truth and falsehood become so inextricably mixed up, that it is difficult, if not impossible, to separate them.
It becomes even more difficult to find the truth if the right to file the written statement or the right to lead evidence or right of cross-examination of any witness is closed in undue haste. Therefore, in matrimonial litigations, the Family Courts should take due care and caution in closing the valuable right to file the written statement or to lead the evidence or the right of cross-examination of any witness."
The Court was hearing a Petition challenging an order passed by the Family Court in February this year, wherein the Court had closed the Petitioner's right to file the written statement in a case for dissolution of marriage on the ground of cruelty.
During the hearing, the High Court was informed that the Family Court granted the Petitioner just two weeks' time to file the written statement, and then closed the right to file it two weeks after the time expired. Besides, it also noted that the case was listed for counseling/ settlement, and observed that it was "unable to comprehend what was the haste in closing the valuable right to file the written statement" in such circumstances.
The Court then allowed the Petition and set aside the impugned order. As a post-script, it referred to precedents to emphasize on the importance of cross-examination in separating the truth from falsehood. With this observation, a copy of the judgment was directed to be sent to all Family Courts and other Courts dealing with matrimonial cases.