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SC Set Aside Petition Seeking Guidelines to Deal with Issues of Overlapping Jurisdiction & Conflicting Judgements

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Supreme Court LAW INSIDER

Aastha Thakur

Published on: 17 October 2022 at 18:48 IST

The Supreme Court set aside a petition seeking directions to prevent misuse of maintenance laws by means of conflicting judgements and overlapping jurisdictions. The case was heard by a bench comprising Chief Justice UU Lalit and Justice Hemant Gupta.

The plea was submitted over the issue of different amounts of maintenance granted under the various provisions of law, including Section 125 of the CrPC, the Domestic Violence Act, the Hindu Marriage Act etc. This results in various difficult aspects, causing problems to parties who have to pay the maintenance amount. The writ was filed to seek relief for all sought maintenance grants under the same umbrella.

The Chief Justice of India, Lalit, conveyed that there had been a judgement given by Justice Indu Malhotra (Rajnesh v/s Neha) that once given relief of maintenance to a woman under a specific provision of law, she could not be granted any other maintenance under different provisions of law.

“For instance, if a woman has been granted maintenance under Section 125 of CrPC and later approaches the court under the Domestic Violence Act, or Hindu Marriage Act for that matter, the maintenance granted as per the previous award would be duly considered. Only after such due consideration, will new orders be passed.”

Still, the petitioner argues that there have been many instances where people approach different forums seeking maintenance even after there exists a single ground. He gave the bench illustration of a case where, on the basis of one issue of law, two different proceedings in two different courts were initiated by the party. He stated—

“If there is a case in two places on the same ground and two different judges pass two different orders, then it is hundred percent sure that one of the two judges must have given a wrong decision, which is against justice. If both the judges pass the same order, then what is the point of wasting the time of two different judges on the same issue?”

Furthermore, the CJI Lalit-led bench cited the same case, emphasizing that similar issues had already been addressed in Rajesh v. Neha. The decision explains that the decision gives directions to resolve the issue of overlapping jurisdiction and to avoid conflicting orders being passed in different proceedings, thus ensuring uniformity in the procedures followed by the Family Courts/District Courts/Magistrate Courts. The directions issues were as follows: –  

a) Where successive claims for maintenance are made by a party under different statutes, the Court would consider an adjustment or set- off, of the amount awarded in the previous proceeding/s, while determining whether any further amount is to be awarded in the subsequent proceeding;

b) It is made mandatory for the applicant to disclose the previous proceeding and the orders passed therein, in the subsequent proceeding;

c) If the order passed in the previous proceeding/s requires any modification or variation, it would be required to be done in the same proceeding.

Accordingly, the Court, with the end remark that “every facet had already been considered“, dismissed the petition.