Family Court can appoint Guardian for Person of Minor, not District Court: Kerala HC

The Kerala High Court in the case of K.S.Narayana Elayathu Vs Sandhya has ruled that the Family Court can appoint a Guardian for Person of Minor and the District Court is not empowered to make such appointments.

The petitioner, Sandhya, mother of minor girl Nivedya, filed the petition against the respondent, who is the father of the minor and husband of the petitioner. Due to strained marital relationship, the petitioner and respondent were living separately and the minor child was staying with her mother. Plaint schedule property was owned by the maternal grandmother of the minor child, and it was settled in her favour as per the settlement deed. The petitioner-wife filed that O.P for declaring her as the guardian of the person and property of the minor Nivedya.

The issue raised in this case was whether the District Court has jurisdiction to entertain a petition for the appointment of a guardian for the person and property of a minor.

The respondent-husband challenged the jurisdiction of the Family Court in entertaining that petition.

Advocate Paul K.Varghese, counsel on behalf of the respondent contended that the District Court is not having jurisdiction, as the entire right of the District Court, by virtue of the Guardian & Wards Act, has been taken over by the Family Court as per Section 7 (1) explanation (g) of the Family Courts Act, 1984.

The division bench of Justice A.Muhamed Mustaque and Justice Sophy Thomas noted that as far as the impugned proceedings of the District Court is concerned, with respect to the jurisdiction to entertain the petition for appointing a guardian for the property of the minor, there is no illegality or impropriety.

However, the court held that with respect to the appointment of a guardian of the person of the minor, the District Court has no jurisdiction, as it is a dispute squarely coming under explanation (g) to Section 7(1) of the Family Courts Act. So, to that extent, the proceedings of the District Court are liable to be set aside. The District Court can proceed with the O.P for appointing guardians for the property of the minor, and not for the person of the minor.

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