kerala high court

Kerala High Court: In a petition challenging order passed by the Family Court allowing application for amendment in pleadings in an ongoing Maintenance Case filed by the petitioner’s wife and minor child, V.G. Varun, J. dismissed the instant petition with the opinion that the objective of Section 125 CrPC is to ameliorate the sufferings of destitute wives and children, and that technicalities have no place in maintenance cases.

It was contended on behalf of the petitioner that the Family Court committed gross illegality in allowing the amendment in pleadings to incorporate new facts and allegations, while there was no provision as per the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. On the other hand, it was explained on behalf of the respondents that the case originally filed lacked requisite details which were supplemented through the said application for amendment in pleadings, and that Family Court allowing the same was justified in the interest of justice.

The Court referred to the decision of Supreme Court in U.P. Pollution Control Board v. Modi Distillery, (1987) 3 SCC 684 wherein, based on facts, the Court held the said technical infirmity which could be easily cured by remitting the matter with a direction to make the requisite amendment. The said decision was also approved in S.R. Sukumar v. S. Sunaad Raghuram, (2015) 9 SCC 609.

The Court mentioned its own case of Madhavi v. Thupran, 1987 SCC OnLine Ker 219 wherein, the Court had considered the power of criminal courts to permit amendment of pleadings in maintenance cases. The facts of the case involved the misspelled name of the petitioner, which was sought to be corrected, refused by the Magistrate but allowed by the High Court. However, a different view was taken in Linda John Abraham v. Business India Group Company, 2011 SCC OnLine Ker 4082 wherein permission was rejected due to the reason that the amendment went to the core of the matter and that if allowed, would have resulted in substantial change in the complaint.

The Court further referred to Kuttan v. Varanamalyam Kuries (P) Ltd., 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 273 wherein it was held that “If the amendment of the complaint proposed is only formal and not substantial, it can be allowed. But, if the amendment of the complaint would cause serious prejudice to the accused, it shall not be allowed.” The Court also perused the powers of the Magistrate while exercising jurisdiction under Section 125 CrPC through Sabita Sahoo v. Khirod Kumar Sahoo, 1990 SCC OnLine Ori 433.

The Court opined that the objective of Section 125 CrPC is to ameliorate the sufferings of destitute wives and children, and that technicalities have no place in maintenance cases. It further said that “The attempt should be to assimilate the required details and reach the correct conclusion at the earliest, rather than mulling over mundane objections. The prejudice, if any caused to the husband by the amendment can be offset by permitting him to file an additional counter affidavit/objection.”

With the said view, the Court dismissed the instant petition and directed the Family Court to accept the additional counter affidavit which may be filed by the petitioner within 2 weeks.

[Govindarajan v. Vidya, 2023 SCC OnLine Ker 4741, decided on 23-06-2023]

Judgment: Justice V.G. Varun

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Petitioner: Advocate Rajesh Sivaramankutty, Advocate Arul Muralidharan;

For Respondents: Advocate Sruthy N. Bhat.

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