The number of criminal cases filed in the Bandra family court here since 2010 have gone down by half, an RTI query has revealed. In 2010, an average of 157 criminal cases were filed (instituted) per month. This figure came down in subsequent years and scaled down to 78/month in 2015, the reply furnished by Superintendent, Family Court, Mumbai in response to the query filed by RTI activist Vihar Durve, said.
However, fresh cases instituted in the family court in the last three years have remained, more or less the same. In 2013, 697 fresh cases were instituted per month and in the next year (2014), only 685 fresh cases were filed. Whereas in the current year (2015), 681 fresh cases were filed per month upto September 2015.
As per law, criminal cases in the family court are filed under section 125 of CrPc, whereas, all the cases of matrimonial losses are filed in the civil category.
Reacting on the trend, advocate Sajan Oomen, senior counsel and former president of the Family Court Bar Association, said that normally when a petition is filed for restitution of conjugal rights, divorce or nullity of marriage, the wife can claim maintenance under different provisions of maintenance to wife and children.
"And therefore, in such a situation, separate proceedings are not filed under section 125 of CrPc and this is the reason why criminal cases in the court have been reducing," explained Oommen.
While another family court lawyer and activist Siddhvidya said, "Women oriented laws are being misused by the women and they have started to file a single case in different courts as a strategy to pressurise the respondents and this is the reason why there is a decline in criminal cases in family courts."
Having its jurisdiction spread to all over Mumbai Municipal periphery, the 26-year-old Bandra Family court has seven judges in seven courts. Each court hears almost 60-70 cases per day, which according to Oommen, is the reason for a huge backlog of pending cases.
According to the RTI figures, a total of 9,663 civil and 2,126 criminal cases were pending in the Bandra court.