HC: Family court can’t deal with property matters arising out of marital disputes

Mumbai Making it clear that the Family court cannot deal with property matters arising out of marital disputes and that they have to be settled in a civil court, the Bombay High Court dismissed a petition filed by a woman wanting to restrain her husband from renting out their jointly owned property and seeking 50 per cent rent if it is leased out.

The order was passed by Justice Anoop Mohta on January 7 while hearing the case of a woman from Thane who had moved the Bandra family court saying her husband had given out their jointly owned flat in Pune on rent.

According to her, they got married in March 2003 and lived in Mumbai for a few years. However, in October 2006, she filed for divorce before the Bandra court citing cruelty by her husband, and the case is yet to be decided.

The husband thereafter moved to Pune where the couple had jointly bought a flat and gave it out on rent. The wife then moved the Bandra family court saying that it should order to give her half the rent that he received from their lease. The husband opposed the plea saying that since the flat was in Pune the court had no territorial jurisdiction to decide on the issue. Accordingly, the family court dismissed the wife’s plea and she moved the high court.

When the matter came up before Justice Mohta, he observed that the “basic and substantial” matter before the Bandra family court was that of divorce proceedings between the couple. He said the court could pass orders only on “incidental matters” arising out of the main divorce petition and the dispute over sharing of rent did not have anything to do with it.

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“In view of specific sections of the Civil Procedure Code, no relief with regard to the immovable property in Pune can be granted by the family court at Bandra,” the court said.

The high court also said that the nature of relief sought by the wife fell under the purview of the Specific Relief Act, which deals with issues such as rights in a rented property, and had no place in her divorce proceedings. It said she should have moved a civil court in Pune if she wanted a share in the rent.

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