22 March 2023 8:27 AM GMT
The Karnataka High Court has issued directions to be followed by magistrate courts for disposal of applications being made by an aggrieved person under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, within 60 days from the date of its filing.A single judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna said “The law Courts which exist to remedy the wrong when it is brought to its notice has to...
The Karnataka High Court has issued directions to be followed by magistrate courts for disposal of applications being made by an aggrieved person under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, within 60 days from the date of its filing.
A single judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna said “The law Courts which exist to remedy the wrong when it is brought to its notice has to act swiftly, as it is trite that, actus curiae neminem gravabit that the act of Court should prejudice no person. If an act of the Court should not prejudice any person; the Court should not permit any procrastination of the proceedings before it.”
It added “A woman, who is a victim of domestic violence, knocking at the doors of the Magistrate, under the Act seeking maintenance or shelter, such grievance, will have to be addressed with immediacy. It is for this reason that the statute mandates that such applications have to be disposed of within 60 days in terms of sub-section (5) of Section 12 of the Act. The mandate is unequivocal as sub-section (5) mandates that the Magistrate shall endeavour to dispose of every application; every application would mean each and every, not a few or more.”
Further it opined “If the delay takes away the very soul of the enactment, such delay would definitely deny justice. It is, therefore, often said that “justice delayed is justice denied”.
Before issuing the directions the bench expressed “It becomes necessary for this Court to direct the Magistrates, to henceforth decide the applications filed by the aggrieved persons within the time frame.”
Following directions have been issued by the court:
(a) Applications filed along with the application under Section 12 be it under Section 18, 19 or 20 of the Act, the concerned Court shall decide those applications filed along with the petition under Section 12 within 60 days from the date of its filing.
(b) The husband shall be granted 4 weeks time to file his assets and liabilities statement for a decision on an application filed under Section 20 of the Act. If it is not filed within the time frame, the concerned Court shall accept the application filed by the wife/aggrieved person and pass appropriate orders in accordance with law.
(c) Objections if any, to the application/s filed by the aggrieved person under Sections 18 and 19 by the opposite party, shall be filed within 4 weeks from the date of receipt of notice, failing which, the Court concerned will be at liberty to pass appropriate orders in accordance with law.
(d) To achieve the said timeline, the concerned Court shall draw up and regulate its procedure in terms of its inherent power under Section 28(2) of the Act.
The bench said “The concerned Court shall strictly adhere to what is indicated hereinabove and its deviation can only be for reasons to be recorded in writing while passing orders on the applications.”
The bench remarked “Adherence to the aforesaid timeline would be of paramount importance, as remedy under Section 12 to an aggrieved person is imperative. Therefore, timely disposal of such applications are also imperative as Section 12 is the salt of the statute; if by delay the salt would lose its savour; the statute would lose its flavour.”
The directions were given while allowing a petition filed by one Kavita M, who in 2018 instituted proceedings under the Act invoking Section 12, and also filed several other applications under Section 23 of the Act seeking non-alienation, encumbrance of schedule property, seeking alternative accommodation, monetary relief, ex-parte maintenance and return of valuable articles. The learned Magistrate in terms of his order dated 29-10-2018 rejected the application for non-alienation or encumbering the schedule property. Except that order, the learned Magistrate did not pass any order on any other applications.
The petitioner approached the court seeking directions to the magistrate court to dispose of the applications filed by her.
The bench referred the objects and reason behind promulgating the act, various provisions contained in the act and said “Sub-sections (2), (3), (4) and (5) of Section 12 permit an aggrieved person to seek relief or compensation or damages for injuries caused by the acts of domestic violence committed by the respondent.”
It added “Sub-section (5) thereof mandates that the Magistrate shall endeavour to dispose of every application made under subsection (1) within 60 days of its first hearing which would mean that when an aggrieved person approaches the learned Magistrate seeking one or more reliefs under the Act, it is mandatory that the Magistrate shall dispose of every, application made under subsection (1) within 60 days from the date of its first hearing.”
On going through the records the bench said “Applications seeking alternative accommodation, monetary relief and ex-parte interim maintenance were all pending consideration and they are pending consideration even as on date, despite the passage of 52 months after their filing.”
Observing that “If an application is filed by the aggrieved person under sub-section (1) of Section 12 and applications are filed under Sections 18, 19 and 20 they have to be decided within the time frame stipulated under sub-section (5) of Section 12 of the Act, as sub-section (5) of Section 12 mandates that any application filed before the learned Magistrate while filing an application under Section 12 should be decided by the Magistrate within 60 days from the date of its filing.”
The bench said “Section 12 therefore becomes the heart and soul of the entire Act and applications under Sections 19 & 20 are clearly maintainable along with an application under Section 12. Therefore, those applications would also be bound by the time limit stipulated under Section 12.”
Following which it held “Section 23 of the Act empowers the learned Magistrate to grant of interim and ex-parte orders in any application under Sections 18, 19, 20 and 21 or even 22 against the respondent, granting interim relief in terms of the application/s so filed cannot be after an eon, it has to be granted anon. Therefore, there is no warrant for any Magistrate to await for the procedure as stipulated under the CrPC to get concluded, and then grant the relief that is sought in the application.”
It added “It defeats the very life blood of the Act.”
Finally it said “If Section 12 is the one under which applications are filed before the concerned Court, sub-section (5) of Section 12 mandates disposal within 60 days.”
Allowing the petition the bench directed the concerned court to dispose of the applications as sought for in the prayer within four weeks. The parties to the lis shall cooperate with the Court to pass appropriate orders on the applications, failing which, the Court should be at liberty to pass ex-parte orders in terms of Section 23 of the Act.
Case Title: Kavitha M And Raghu & Others
Case NO: WRIT PETITION No.12703 OF 2022
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Kar) 116
Date of Order: 16-03-2023
Appearance: Advocate Nitin Ramesh for petitioner.
DSGI H.Shanthi Bhushan For R4.
HCGP K P Yashodha for R5.
Click Here To Read/Download Order