F.A. No. 05/2014. Case: Anita Deb Vs Kartik Nandi. Tripura High Court

Case NumberF.A. No. 05/2014
CounselFor Appellant: K. Nath, Advocate
JudgesT. Vaiphei, C.J. and S.C. Das, J.
IssueFamily Courts Act, 1984 - Sections 13, 19(1); Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 - Section 9
Judgement DateJanuary 19, 2017
CourtTripura High Court


T. Vaiphei, C.J., (At Agartala)

  1. This appeal U/s 19(1) of the Family Courts Act, 1984 ("the Act" for short) is directed against the order dated 17-8-2013 passed by the learned Judge, Family Court, West Tripura in Title Suit (RCR) No. 155 of 2012 for restituting the conjugal rights of the respondent-husband vis-à-vis the appellant.

  2. No representation from the respondent despite proper service of notice. After hearing Mr. K. Nath, the learned counsel for the appellant at length, it becomes clear that the controversy centers around the correct procedure to be adopted by the Family Court in examining the parties. The case of the appellant is that she and her husband solemnized their marriage about 16 years ago after duly observing Hindu rites and rituals at the residence of her father at Nutan Nagar under East Agartala Police Station. From this marriage, they were blessed with two sons, who at the time of filing the appeal, were aged 16 years and 12 years respectively. While the elder son is residing with the appellant, the younger son is residing with the respondent. The marriage apparently went to the rock, which resulted in their separation and living apart. The respondent thereupon instituted Title Suit (RCR) No. 155 of 2012 U/s 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 before the learned Judge, Family Court, Sadar, Agartala, West Tripura seeking a decree of conjugal rights against the appellant. The appellant contested the suit and denied all the allegations of the respondent. In particular, she asserted that a reconciliation meeting was convened by the Nutan Nagar Gram Panchayat on 23-3-2011 wherein a resolution was passed to the effect, among others, that both the appellant and the respondent would live separately from each other for two years whereafter they would again decide whether they would live together or not. The appellant made allegations against the respondent about his torture, abuse and cruel treatment upon her. In utter disregard of the resolution passed by the Gram Panchayat, the respondent instituted the suit against her, which resulted in the impugned order.

  3. The Family Court framed one issue, namely, whether the husband- petitioner is entitled to get a decree of restitution of conjugal rights with his wife-respondent? Two witnesses were examined on behalf of the respondent-husband to substantiate his case. Similarly, two witnesses were examined on behalf of the appellant to prove her case. The Family Court at the conclusion of the trial held that it did not find any reason for the appellant live separately or to withdraw from the respondent and, therefore, allowed the prayer of the respondent for restitution of his conjugal rights. The Family Court, accordingly, directed the appellant to immediately go back to her marital home and restore conjugal life with him.

  4. A number of contentions have been raised by Mr. K. Nath, the learned counsel for the appellant to assail the impugned order, but ultimately confines himself to the absence of legal assistance to defend herself thereby causing grave prejudice to her. He draws my attention to her cross-examination of PW-1 and 2 which speaks volume on the ineffectiveness thereof due to her ignorance about the art of cross-examination. According to the learned counsel, the appellant is absolutely unaware of even the meaning of cross-examination or the purpose of cross-examination; she should have been informed, on the peculiar facts of this case, by the Family Court of the need to arrange a counsel to defend her. The learned counsel, therefore, submits that the proceedings adopted by the trial court resulting in the impugned order suffer from grave miscarriage of justice warranting the setting aside thereof on this ground alone.

  5. After hearing the learned counsel for the appellant, the question which falls for consideration in this appeal is whether the Family Court has the duty to inform ignorant litigant of a matrimonial dispute to engage a counsel...

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