Limitation period to appeal against family court order or decree is 30 days: Delhi High Court

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The Delhi High Court has ruled that an appeal against a decree or order of family courts must be filed within 30 days from the pronouncement of the decree or order.

A division bench of Justices Sanjeev Sachdeva and Vikas Mahajan issued the clarification after noting that there was a clear inconsistency between the limitation periods provided for under the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) and the Family Courts Act, 1984.

Whereas the HMA, as amended in 2003, mentioned a 90-day limitation period for appeals, the Family Courts Act laid down a 30-day limitation period.

The Court has now held that the period of limitation for filing an appeal from an appealable order and decree of a district court would be the 90-day period specified under Section 28 of the HMA.

However, wherever family courts have been set up, the Family Courts Act, 1984 will apply and the appeal under Section 19 of the said Act must be filed within 30 days from the family court decree or order, the High Court said.

“Clearly Section 28 of the HMA and Section 19 of the Family Courts Act operate in different spheres and apply to orders passed by different forums i.e. District Court and the Family Court respectively. Thus, the period of limitation for filing an appeal from an appealable order and decree of the District Court would be ninety days under section 28 of HMA and the period of limitation for filing an appeal from an appealable order and judgment of the Family Court, wherever it has been set up, would be thirty days under section 19 of the Family Courts Act,” the Court ruled.

It also clarified that a delay in filing can be condoned on furnishing of sufficient cause under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963.

With this judgment, the bench disagreed with the conclusions of another division bench of the Delhi High Court as well as a three-judge bench of the Bombay High Court.

The Court passed the ruling while dealing with an appeal filed by a woman challenging a family court order allowing her husband’s plea for divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) of the HMA.

A preliminary objection was raised by the husband that the appeal was barred by limitation under the Family Courts Act.

The appellant-wife countered that the appeal was filed under Section 28 of HMA, wherein the period of limitation prescribed is 90 days and not 30 days.

The Court found that the limitation period mentioned under the Family Courts Act is applicable in this case.

All the same, the bench granted an opportunity to the appellant-wife to file an appropriate application seeking condonation of delay and listed the case for further hearing on October 16, 2023, before the roster bench.

The appellant-wife was represented through advocates Vineet Jhanji and Imran Moulaey.

Advocate Sumar Arora represented the husband.

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