Karnataka High Court Issues Directions For Timely Disposal By Magistrate Courts That Domestic Violence Victims Must Be Addressed With Immediacy
The Karnataka High Court on 16th March 2023 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. This was in the case of Kavitha M v. Raghu & Others (WRIT PETITION No.12703 OF 2022) and was presided over by a single bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna.
FACTS OF THE CASE:
The petitioner/wife of the 1st respondent is before this Court seeking a direction to dispose of applications dated 15.10.2018 filed by her in C.Misc.No.170 of 2018 before the II Metropolitan Magistrate Traffic Court at Bangalore under Sections 12, 19(1)(E) & (F), 20 & 22, 20 & 23(2) and 23(2) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. The marriage between the petitioner and 1st respondent takes place on 16-11-2016. From the wedlock a child is born on 24-08-2017. The relationship between the petitioner and the 1st respondent appears to have turned sore and the petitioner/wife institutes proceedings under the Act invoking Section 12 of the Act and also files 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. In all, there were five applications filed by the petitioner on 15-10-2018. 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 1st respondent appeared on 03-05-2019 and filed objections to the applications. On 04-08-2021 the petitioner filed an affidavit of assets and liability statement. For filing of assets and liabilities statement of the 1st respondent seven dates were granted to the 1st respondent/husband between 04-08-2021 and 18-04-2022. The learned counsel for the petitioner submits that assets and liabilities statement is not filed by the 1st respondent even as on date. Being aggrieved by non-passing of orders on several applications that are pending consideration for close to 5 years, the petitioner is before this Court seeking an early disposal of those applications filed along with the claim on 15-10-2018.
The Court said, “It is quite appalling that an application filed by the petitioner under Section 12 of the Act for the relief as available under Sections 19, 20 and 22 of the Act has been kept pending for close to 52 months after its filing, notwithstanding the fact that the mandate of the Act is disposal of those applications within 60 days. The applications being kept pending would display apathy towards the litigants. If an act of the Court should not prejudice any person; the Court should not permit any procrastination of the proceedings before it. 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 every application; every application would mean each and every, not a few or more. 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”
It further added,” 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”
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY PRATIKSHYA P. BEURA