Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: With a view to provide an alternative to seeking transfer of proceedings on account of inability of a party to contest proceedings at a place away from their ordinary residence on the ground that if proceedings are not transferred it will result in denial of justice, the bench of A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit, Jj held that in matrimonial or custody matters or in proceedings between parties to a marriage or arising out of disputes between parties to a marriage, wherever the defendants/respondents are located outside the jurisdiction of the court, the court where proceedings are instituted, may examine whether it is in the interest of justice to incorporate any safeguards for ensuring that summoning of defendant/respondent does not result in denial of justice.

Availability of video conferencing facility; availability of legal aid service; deposit of cost for travel, lodging and boarding in terms of Order XXV CPC; E-mail address/phone number, if any, at which litigant from out station may communicate, were some of the safeguards suggested by the Court.

The Bench noticed that transfer is not always a solution acceptable to both the parties. It may be appropriate that available technology of video conferencing is used where both the parties have equal difficulty and there is no place which is convenient to both the parties. The Court said that wherever the facility of video conferencing is available, it ought to be fully utilized and all the High Courts should issue appropriate administrative instructions to regulate the use of video conferencing for certain category of cases.

The Bench further added that to combat the issue of ignorance about availability of suitable legal services, Legal Aid Committee of every district should make available selected panel of advocates whose discipline and quality can be suitably regulated and who are ready to provide legal aid at a specified fee. Such panels should be notified on the websites of the District Legal Services Authorities/State Legal Services Authorities/National Legal Services Authority. This may enhance access to justice consistent with Article 39A of the Constitution.

It was also said that every district court must have at least one e-mail ID. Administrative instructions for directions can be issued to permit the litigants to access the court, especially when litigant is located outside the local jurisdiction of the Court. A designated officer/manager of a district court may suitably respond to such e-mail in the manner permitted as per the administrative instructions. Similarly, a manager/ information officer in every district court may be accessible on a notified telephone during notified hours as per the instructions. [Krishna Veni Nagam v. Harish Nagam, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 236, decided on 09.03.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: While deciding a reference arising from a batch of transfer petitions, the Court held that the High Court in exercise of power under Section 24 of the Civil Procedure Code  has the power to transfer matrimonial proceedings from one Family Court to another Family Court or Family Court to District Court or District Court to Family Court and similarly, the High Court has also the power to transfer a proceedings under Chapter IX of the Criminal Procedure Code from the Family Court to the Magisterial Court and from Magisterial Court to Family Court and vice versa.
The issues for consideration before the Division Bench were:
(1) Whether petitions can be transferred from the Court of the District Judge to the Family Court in another District?
(2) Whether the proceedings pending before the Family Court in one District can be transferred to a District Judge in another District where there is no Family Court?

The Court observed that clearly the proceeding before the Family Court shall be dealt with, as per the procedure prescribed in the Act itself. The procedural law  prescribed in CPC which is not in conflict and/or inconsistent with the provisions of the Family Courts Act and Rules framed thereunder shall apply. Admittedly, in the scheme of the Family Courts Act, there is no provision of transfer of a proceeding from one Family Court to another Family Court or from a Family Court to a District Court and from a District Court to Family Court. Since there is no such provision prescribed in the Family Courts Act, the general provision prescribed under Section 24 of the Code of Civil Procedure in respect of all civil proceedings, shall apply which authorizes the High Court to transfer any suit or proceeding from one Civil Court to another Civil Court under its jurisdiction.

Observing that the High Court  in exercise of power under Section 24 CPC and Section 407 CrPC could transfer cases, the Court held that, “it cannot be said that once a proceeding from Family Court to a District Court is transferred, the parties will be deprived of the special provisions of the Family Courts Act. Be that as it may, the Family Courts Act has not as a whole excluded the application of CPC or CrPC. The provisions of the procedural law prescribed in CPC, CrPC or in the Evidence Act which is not in conflict and/or inconsistent with the provisions of the Family Courts Act shall apply in respect of proceedings to which the Family Court exercises jurisdiction. Once, the Family Court is also a court subordinate to the High Court, the High Court’s power to transfer a proceeding from the Family Court to any other District Court or from the District Court to the Family Court cannot be said to have excluded or restricted. The High Court in exercise of power under Section 24 CPC, in our considered opinion has the power to transfer matrimonial proceedings from Family Court to Family Court or Family Court to District Court or District Court to Family Court and similarly, the High Court has also the power to transfer a proceedings under Chapter IX of the CrPC from the Family Court to the Magisterial Court and from Magisterial Court to Family Court and vice versa.” [Dipika Sharma (Chakraborty) v. Sudip Sharma2016 SCC OnLine Tri 505 , decided on September 16, 2016]