Kerala High Court: Judgment Not Automatic if Defendant Fails to Present Defense in Matrimonial Dispute

Kerala HC Law Insider

LI Network

Published on: December 31, 2023 at 13:15 IST

The Kerala High Court has highlighted that as per Order VIII Rule 5 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), a favorable judgment and decree for the plaintiff are not automatic when the defendant fails to present a defense.

The Court emphasized this stance during a matrimonial appeal filed under Section 19(1) of the Family Courts Act, 1984.

In the case, a Division Bench comprising Justice Anil K. Narendran and Justice Viju Abraham stated, “According to Order VIII Rule 5 of the Code of Civil Procedure, a judgment and decree favoring the plaintiff isn’t automatic if the defendant fails to present their defense.

The court can only grant a decree in favor of the plaintiff after thorough consideration of the case, including the evaluation of pleadings and evidence. Even if the defendant hasn’t explicitly denied specific facts, their denial of the plaintiff’s allegations in each paragraph of the plaint doesn’t imply admission of those allegations.”

Advocate A.K. Alex represented the appellants, while Advocate Jacob P. Alex appeared for the respondent in this matrimonial dispute that originated in a Family Court in Pathanamthitta. The respondent-wife sought the retrieval of 13.2 sovereigns of gold ornaments or their value, along with compensation, from the appellants.

Following detailed examination of the pleadings and evidence, the Family Court ruled in favor of the respondent-wife, ordering the appellants to provide the gold ornaments or their equivalent value and directing the husband to pay Rs. 2,00,000 as compensation within 60 days.

Challenging this verdict, the appellants approached the High Court. The Court acknowledged the Family Court’s reasoning and found it consistent with relevant legal provisions and established precedents.

The High Court highlighted that although the respondent-wife alleged both physical and mental cruelty by her husband, she did not produce substantial evidence to support these claims.

The Court noted her admission during cross-examination that she did not file any complaint against her husband for alleged physical assault due to his apology.

After scrutinizing the oral testimony, the Court upheld the Family Court’s decision, recognizing the mental and physical suffering endured by the wife and the entitlement to compensation from her husband, as supported by established legal principles.

The High Court concluded that the appeal lacked grounds for interference, thus dismissing it based on applicable laws and legal precedents.

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