Go for film or dinner, judges advise couples headed for divorce

By Kanu Sarda, IANS

New Delhi : Stern and gavel-hammering judges are increasingly turning marriage counsellors, telling bickering couples the way to marital rapprochement – go for a movie or dinner or even a long drive.

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Judges at the Tis Hazari and Karkardooma courts in the city dealing with increasing number of divorce cases are telling couples headed for Splitsville to give their marriages a second chance. Statistics available with the courts show that around 60 percent of such couples had called off their plans to go separate ways after such judicial advice.

Previously, suggestions to go for a movie or dinner together were not part of the standard procedures at mediation centres. What actually used to happen was the judge would sit in the midst of the divorcing couple and ask them to sort out their differences. If nothing concrete happened, the case was forwarded to the civil court where the parties would fight for a divorce.

“Mediation in the context of matrimonial dispute is different in form and content from commercial and property disputes. So, we advise things like motivation, sentiments, social compulsions, personal liabilities and responsibilities to solve the matter,” said a mediator judge, who did not like to be named.

Officers dealing with divorce cases said that divorce has now become the first available option to end marriages, whereas earlier it was considered to be the last option.

According to court records, 6,283 divorce cases were filed in 2007 in matrimonial courts. While 5,677 cases are still to be decided from earlier ones filed, 5,236 cases were disposed of.

This year, 2,157 maintenance petitions were pending in matrimonial courts, of which 1,105 were disposed of while 1,826 fresh cases were filed, leaving 2,878 cases pending.

The latest figures of the two mediation centres, one at Tis Hazari and the other at Karkardooma, tell the success story behind the project.

The success rate of settled cases in Karkardooma court is as high as 80 percent while in Tis Hazari courts it is 59 percent.

According to the annual report for 2006-07, the Delhi mediation centre had settled 4,256 cases till August.

“There was an over 200 percent increase in the number of settlements between August 2006 and August 2007,” said the judicial officer in charge of the meditation centre.