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On July 26 2022, the Lok Sabha passed Family Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and the same is currently pending passage in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha last week on July 18 by Union Law Minister, Kiren Rijiju.

The aforementioned Family Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2022 seeks to amend Section 1(3) as well as insert  new Section 3A in the Principal Act viz. Family Courts Act, 1984 for validation of certain actions i.e. to grant retrospective statutory sanctity or in other words to duly legalize certain  Family Courts as already functioning in the State of Himachal Pradesh with effect from 15 February 2019 and in the State of Nagaland with effect from 12 September 2008 since at that point of time (dates) i.e. when such Family Courts were established in both the above States, the mandatory Notification in the Official Gazette was not issued (published) by the Central Government for bringing that Act (i.e. 1984 Act) into force in both the  above  States which is however mandatory under Section 1(3) of Family Courts Act, 1984.

Amidst all this, I have written to President of India, Prime Minister, Union Law Minister and Secretary, Department of Justice( DoJ), Govt of India (which is the nodal department for implementation of Family Courts Act, 1984 across the country) pointing out why the State of Punjab has not been considered for inclusion in the Family Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2022 too.

Although the Central Government (DoJ) vide issuance of a Gazette Notification  dated 128th December 2012 appointed 1st January 2013 as the date on which  Family Courts Act, 1984 shall come into force in the State of Punjab under Section 1(3) of 1984 Act.

Nevertheless certain Family Courts were very much functioning in the State of Punjab before such date i.e. before January 1, 2013 since the Central Government released funds under Plan and Non-Plan for meeting recurring expenditure on Family Courts including to the State of Punjab during the year 2003-04. This information was provided to him in a RTI reply by DoJ in the month of Jan, 2017. 

I mentioned in the letter that even the Governor (read State Government) of Punjab  by exercising powers conferred by section 23 of Family Courts Act, 1984 and after consultation with Punjab and Haryana High Court also framed Punjab Family Courts Rules, 2010  to regulate the working of the Family Courts in the State of Punjab and such Rules also came into effect in the State of Punjab with effect from 15 March, 2010. 

Now the moot but significant legal point which arises is that when the Act viz. Family Courts Act, 1984 was itself not in force in the State of Punjab before 1 January 2013, then how the State Government on 15 March 2010 itself framed Punjab Family Courts Rules, 2010 by exercising powers conferred by section 23 of Family Courts Act, 1984.

It is suggested to take due and prompt cognizance in this regard and wisely  consider inclusion of  State of Punjab in Family Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2022, currently pending for passage in the Rajya Sabha after being passed by the Lok Sabha. 

Pertinent that few days back, the Advocate has also filed a RTI with the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) in the Department of Justice seeking complete information in this regard, the reply to which is keenly awaited.

About the author:
Hemant Kumar

Hemant Kumar Hemant Kumar is a practicing advocate in Punjab and Haryana High Court. He raises the public centric issues

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