As part of a unique initiative by the Bombay High Court, a ‘counselling centre’ to resolve matrimonial disputes and family issues has been set up at Pune, Mumbai, Aurangabad and Nagpur. The Pre-Litigation Counselling Centre by the Pune District Legal Services Authority (DLSA )has been operational since August last year.
The centres aim to resolve these issues before they reach the court and so far, the centre in Pune has succeeded in resolving 11 cases. It has five expert counsellors who try and resolve disputes free of cost,
Chetan Bhagwat, secretary of DLSA, told The Indian Express. “So far, we have received 78 applications… those are not only about disputes between married couples but also involve providing solutions in a family tiff”.
The main aim of the counselling centre is to provide free legal aid. “These centres operate independently and have no bearing on any pending cases. The confidentiality of the persons is maintained,” said Bhagwat.
Dr Radha Raje, consulting psychologist and a senior counsellor at the centre, said they deal with various kinds of cases. She cited an instance where it took nearly five sessions with a couple to save their marriage.
“In this case, the husband was a psychiatric patient. While she was not told about his condition before the marriage, the woman adjusted and their life was fine when he took medication. However, their marriage was on the verge of collapse when they approached our centre. Her husband had stopped taking medication and had left his job. She had to take up a job to look after the family. She had learnt about this centre when she approached a lawyer friend as she wanted to file a divorce petition. The counselling sessions helped as her husband started taking medication again. We have also called them for a follow-up,” said Dr Raje.
“Our role is to ensure that
in this process, their quality
of life should not be affected,” she added.
Bhagwat said the centre will also cater to senior citizens, especially in cases where a parent is not being treated properly by their child.
The centre comes as a relief for warring couples and families that want their problems solved. Instead of spending a significant amount of money and time in courts, or even paying a sizable sum to private counsellors, they can try to resolve their issues at these centres.