Power to Transfer Petitions—Section 21-A:
Section 21-A has been inserted by the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act, 1976 in order to avoid multiplicity of proceedings and inconvenience to go into the entire marital life of the parties. The section provides that where proceedings seeking relief of judicial separation or divorce are filed in different courts, the court wherein the petition was earlier presented, shall try and dispose of all matters.
The section makes special provision for the transfer of certain proceedings under the Hindu Marriage Act. But it is not to be taken that this special provision excludes the general provisions relating to transfer of cases.
The section specifically relates only to two kinds of petitions namely:
(1) a petition praying for a decree for judicial separation under Section 10 of the Act, and (2) an application for a decree of divorce under Section 13 of the Act. The section permits only consolidation of two types of petitions under the Act. Consolidation of joint hearing of other types of petitions is excluded by necessary intendment, and the powers under Sections 23 to 25 of Code of Civil Procedure cannot be exercised for transfer of petitions for a consolidated hearing of the petitions not contemplated by the section.
Special Provisions relating to trial—Section 21-B:
This section has been added by the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act, 1976 with a view to expedite the trial of petitions made under the Hindu Marriage Acts. The trial is required to continue matrimonial proceedings from day to day until its conclusion. Where the trial court adjourns the hearing it should do for reasons to be recorded. It is further required that the court should conclude the trial as expeditiously as possible within six months from the date of services of notice of the petition on the respondent.
The proceedings in appellate court are also required to be completed within the period of three months from the date of service of notice of appeal on the respondent.
The provisions of the section are not mandatory. Section 21-C has also been inserted by the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act, 1976 to provide for the admission of documents in evidence even though they are not duly stamped and registered.