Despite having laws to protect senior citizens who are abandoned by their children, an old man from Karnataka has been forced to fight a protracted legal battle against his "well off" son, thanks to lack of understanding of jurisdictional issues on the part of a family court and the state high court.
Dawalsab of Bijapur in Karnataka has been seeking Rs 5,000 a month for the last five years from his estranged son Khajasab, an employee of the Anjuman College, Syndagi, to sustain himself. But the district family court refused to entertain his plea on the ground that it did not have jurisdiction to order in his favour. The high court too upheld the family court's order.
On the father's plea, the SC has finally ruled that the family court can decide his case. A bench headed by Justice Altmas Kabir allowed the appeal and set aside the orders passed both by the family court and the high court.
It also asked the son to pay Rs 25,000 to the father as litigation cost. But the old man can hardly celebrate his victory as the SC has sent the matter back to the family court, Bijapur for fresh consideration.
Dawalsab's ordeal began in 2004, when he moved the Bijapur family court seeking Rs.5,000 a month from his son under section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), under which wives, children and parents can seek maintenance.
But the Bijapur family court dismissed his plea in 2007, saying he should have approached a magisterial court in Syndagi since his son resided there. The Bijapur family court gave its decision in 2007, after three years, on whether it was empowered to take up the plea of a person residing in same jurisdiction.
Having wasted three precious years, Dawalsab moved the Karnataka High Court, which did not find any fault with the family court's decision. But after interpreting the provisions of the CrPC and Family Courts Act, the SC on July 15 sent Dawalsab back to the family court for a second round of litigation.