Lok Adalat spells peace for feuding couples

After two years of endless rounds of the court,Rashmi was a happy woman on Sunday. No longer will she have to worry about her four-year-old daughter’s school fees.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published:March 2, 2009 2:25 am

Old disputes were resolved within minutes as judges played counsellor,made couples sit across the table,thrash out differences

After two years of endless rounds of the court,Rashmi was a happy woman on Sunday. No longer will she have to worry about her four-year-old daughter’s school fees.

Caught in a legal wrangle with her husband since 2007,the first continuous Matrimonial Lok Adalat brought much-awaited relief to Rashmi.

The child will now get Rs 4,000 per month as maintenance from her father. While he promised the court that he would include his daughter’s name in his CGHS card and his service records,the mother assured she would allow him to meet the child in a cordial atmosphere-making it a win-win situation for both.  

Khushboo,who had to leave her matrimonial home owing to alleged cruelty by her husband,was just as relieved. Appearing before a court in the Patiala House Complex,her husband apologised to his estranged wife and requested her to come back along with their two children.

Moved by his conduct,the judge made the couple sit across the table. Soon after the couple started talking,Khushboo agreed to join her husband after a year’s separation. Her husband agreed to pay her Rs 1,000 as personal expenses every month.

Organised by the Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA) in four district court complexes for the first time,the Matrimonial Lok Adalats,set to become a fortnightly affair from now,helped settle 12 cases.

Twenty-seven cases were referred for the next session on March 15 after judges discovered possibilities of amicable settlement.

Four special courts,each comprising a retired district judge and a senior advocate,were constituted for the purpose.

As many as 63 cases,pertaining to disputes relating to alimony and others under the Domestic Violence Act,were listed for hearing and the parties appeared in all of them.

The event got a thumbs-up from litigants keen to find a way out of making never-ending rounds of the district courts.

“I had filed a petition against my estranged husband for maintenance in 2006. Several hearings and ruinous cost of litigation failed to do what a brief hearing did for me. After patient counselling by the judge,my husband has agreed to pay me Rs 5,000 as monthly maintenance. I have also promised to withdraw my case against him,” Soha told Newsline outside Patiala House,which topped the list with 5 out of 11 cases getting resolved.

Buoyed by the response to its pilot programme,the DLSA’s Project Officer Sanjay Sharma said,“Huge arrears of cases,which take extraordinarily long to dispose of,have given rise to a situation where common people are forced to wait just for the conclusion of the case and not for justice.”

After the success of first matrimonial Lok Adalat in October,the DLSA has made it a fortnightly affair,to be organised on first and third Sunday of every month.

As per the official data,7,583 alimony disputes and 5,426 cases of domestic violence are presently pending before different trial courts.

Not many cases,dlsa wanted more
* While the DLSA dubbed the continuous matrimonial Lok Adalat as one of its most ambitious projects,not too many cases were referred to it for resolution
* Only 63 cases were sent for redressal in Lok Adalats by the various courts presently handling these matters even as around 13,000 of such cases are reportedly pending
* “The DLSA had made representations to all the concerned courts about holding the Lok Adalat long back. I am dissatisfied with the number of cases being sent for redressal at a forum,which strives for making justice accessible to a large chunk of the poor by combining justice,efficiency and legal craft,” said Sanjay Sharma,project officer of the DLSA.
* All the listed litigants had appeared before the Lok Adalats. The DLSA would have achieved a bigger success by resolving more disputes only if the courts were more diligent in referring the cases,Sharma said.

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