Property suit involving question on matrimony can’t be maintained in Munsif court: High court of Kerala

Any case which involves a major legal question of determining the validity of a matrimonial relationship cannot be decided by a court other than a family court as per Section 7(1) (d) of the Family Courts Act. This was held and reiterated by Hon’ble Justice T.V. Anilkumar in a land dispute case of Jaminimol v Federal Bank of India and Ors. [OP (C) No. 1807 of 2015] in the High Court of Kerala.

The facts of the case are such that a property was mortgaged by a man, now deceased, in favor of The Federal bank of India for default in repayment of loan to the bank. This bank is the first defendant in the instant case. This aforementioned property was then sold by the other defendants of this case who claim to be the legal heirs of the deceased man at an auction as per the procedure laid down in the Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest act, 2002 [SARFAESI Act}. The petitioner, on the other hand, asserts that as a legally wedded wife of the deceased, she and her son are the rightful heirs of the property and without their consent the property could not be sold. A petition in this regard was filed at the Munsif court which was dismissed on grounds of being unmaintainable in that jurisdiction. This writ petition was filed in response to the order given by the Munsif after invoking Article 227 of the Constitution.

The contention of the plaintiff is that the sale deed executed Is null and void because she is the sole legally wedded wife of the deceased and her son is the legal heir which makes them the sole property owners. The substantial question of law involved in the case presented to the high court is whether the order taken by the lower court of returning to the plaint for decision in the family court is legally sound or not.

The reasoning put forth by the lower court is that a dispute which involves the issue of a matrimonial status can only be adjudicated by a Family court as per the provision is Section 7 of the Family Court Act. A close analysis of the facts of the case would reveal that any ascertainment of the validity of the sale deed is consequential upon the status of the petitioner. This status falls under the purview of matters dealing with matrimony which are the territory of a family court. This court examined the said provision and came upon the conclusion that a matter of such nature is excluded from the jurisdiction of a Civil Court. Due to these reasons, the order given by the lower court is devoid of any error as per the law.

 The court, therefore, firmly stated that the “institution of the instant suit could not have occasioned by the Munsif court and the petition fails as the order of presenting the case to a family court is not liable to be interfered with”.

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