Rajesh v. Deepthi

  • Order

Family Courts Act, 1984 – Can claim for damages be maintained before the Family Court ? Held, An action for marital tort by one spouse against other squarely falls within the jurisdictional competence of the Family Court. Such a claim can be made either along with the action for divorce or independently by way of a separate suit.

There is no formulated rule or guideline to measure damages in the case of wrongs arising from marital tort. Damages for any tort, much less marital tort, are, or ought to be, fixed at a sum, which will compensate the victim, so far as money can do it, for all the injury he/she suffered. The victim is entitled to general damages for the injury sustained by him/her. General damages being those, which the law will presume to be natural and probable consequences of the wrongful act as soon as it is established that the tortfeasor is guilty of the wrongful act complained of, it will be presumed that the victim has sustained some damage and the amount he will be entitled is purely in the discretion of the court. Where the injury is material, specific and has been ascertained, it is generally possible to assess damages with some precision. But, that is not so, where the injury complained of is emotional distress or wounded feelings or mental pain and suffering, as in the most of the cases of marital tort. Not only it is impossible to ascertain, it is almost impossible to equate the damages to a sum of money. In cases where there is proof of outrageous tortious conduct, like deliberate and wanton physical assault, high handed mental torture or intentional infliction of emotional distress, by one spouse against the other, the Court is not powerless to grant even exemplary damages. One cannot measure in terms of money the injury sustained by wounded feelings. [Para 27]

Family Courts Act, 1984 – Section 14 Technicalities of Indian Evidence Act regarding the admissibility or relevancy of evidence are not strictly applicable to the proceedings under the Family Court.

In the matrimonial disputes before the Family Court, a discretion has been given to the Court to rely on documents produced if the Court is satisfied that it is required to assist the Court to effectively deal with the dispute, whether or not the same would be otherwise relevant or admissible under the Indian Evidence Act. The rigor of the Indian Evidence Act, therefore, is not to be applied in a proceeding before the Family Court constituted under the Act. [Para 13]

Family Courts Act, 1984 – It would be unrealistic for a Court to insist for documentary evidence regarding ornaments that had changed hands at the time of marriage.

It is a customary practice in our country, particularly in our state, among all the communities, that parents would gift gold ornaments to their daughters at the time of marriage as a token of love. Indian parents start making jewellery for their daughters since their birth to make sure that they have enough golden jewellery for their marriage. Thus, it would be unrealistic for a Court to insist for documentary evidence regarding ornaments that had changed hands at the time of marriage. The Court can, certainly, act upon oral evidence if it is found credible and trustworthy. It is also quite common that when the bride moves to the house of the groom after the marriage, she takes all her ornaments and entrust the same, except few required for daily wear, to her husband or in-laws for safe custody. Such entrustment also could be established by the sole testimony of the wife since, normally, no independent witness would be available to witness the same. Once such entrustment is made, a trust gets created. Being a trustee, the husband or his parents, as the case may be, is liable to return the same. [Para 10]

Citations : 2021 (4) KCC 105 : 2021 (4) KHC 242 : 2021 (4) KLT 455