The State Legal Services Authority came to the rescue of a couple who wanted a divorce, but were directed by the panchayat to stay together or pay Rs 4 lakh. The panchayat in Colony Number 4 told the couple that if one of them decides to walk out of the marriage, he or she will have to pay Rs 4 lakh to the other person.
SLSA member secretary Mahavir Singh said: “The woman was keen to get out of the wedlock and she contacted one of our volunteers working in a legal aid clinic. She was teaching in a government school situated in Colony Number 4 and came to our legal aid clinic.”
The woman was working as a teacher in the government high school in Colony Number 4. According to the panchayat’s decision, the couple were supposed to live at their parents’ houses to avoid further dispute and if anybody tried to violate the decision, that person would have to Rs 4 lakh to the other.
The woman was informed by the SLSA volunteers at the legal aid clinic that the settlement made by the panchayat was not binding on them. Legal aid volunteer Harmesh Lal Sofat told the Chandigarh Newsline: “I told the woman
that this settlement (made by the panchayat) was not legal and only the decision of the court was final and legal. We then counselled the woman and suggested her to filed a divorce with mutual consent of her husband.”
The couple then filed a divorce case after taking counselling from the volunteer. The matrimony dispute was settled thereafter. Mahavir said: “We have around 23 legal aid clinics in the city, including the periphery areas. Through these clinic we try to make people aware of their legal rights. There are a lot of queries as people are mostly unaware of their legal rights.”