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Domestic Violence And ADR: Why To Separate Let's Mediate

Once said by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru: - The condition of a nation can be defined by looking at the status of women. Soon after the invasion of Arabs in India, the condition of women started deteriorating.

They have consistently been a victim of various social evils such as Jauhar, Sati, Purdah, etc. Since many years, India has witnessed a patriarchal society across the various parts of the country. Since time immemorial, women have been mistreated and looked upon as a liability. Domestic violence is one of the major examples of outburst of men's exasperation on women.

Today when the world is struggling with the grave impact of Corona Virus, the rise in cases of Domestic Violence has again brought up the question of Women's Safety (more precisely the safety of Women's Dignity) into concern. Since 24th March 2020, the day on which Hon'ble Prime Minister of India announced the Lockdown in the country, the whole country has shown solidarity in following the same.

As like due to some of the ill-minded people we are being diverted from the goal of getting completely rid-over the case of COVID-19, similarly due to some Sick-minded Egoistic males the women of the country is loosing hope to survive in this lockdown in their own home.

While the whole country is at home on leave from their work, it's the women who is under double burden of handling the home as well as the helpless patriarchal behavior of the males in the family. As like Doctors, police officers and other warriors of Corona, women are also one of the warriors of Corona struggling to keep the peace and harmony in the family as well as the society.

We say that India has came far away from the ancient times and now women are equal to women, they are being given equal opportunity as like men. But my friends, data shows some different picture of the story. The National Commission For Women (NCW) which registers the cases of domestic violence across the country has almost registered more than 587 number of cases between March 23 and April 16, 2020.[1]

It must be noted that these are just the number of cases which are being reported at NCW and only a certain percentage of Indian Women are aware about the existence of the same, mostly such cases are approached to the police first. Thus, it signifies that there are more and more such cases happening which is either reported at the police station or is not reported at all. The protection of dignity of women is still a big challenge to the Indian Society.|

Sunanda Desai, a working woman from an upper-middle class of a family of Mumbai says that her self esteem seems to be cut every day. Job-loss, Salary cuts and uncertain future after this lockdown has brought everyone in question. She further states that she is being questioned every single day for things not being done well which has given rise to her mental stress at home. Every single day she is experiencing the fights and arguments which she has never experienced in the last ten years of her marriage.[2]

A women in Chennai was being constantly beaten up by her drunk husband had recently got a relief from the same as she has been able to earn and bring alcohol for her husband. Due to the lockdown, her employer had asked her to stay at home and her husband being deprived of alcohol was in a foul mood. She ran to report the case to the nearby police station but the police denied to register the case and said that sort it by yourself as the country is in lockdown for the next 21 days.[3]

Recently on 18th April, 2020 an NGO named All India Council For Human Rights, Liberties and Social Justice (AICHLS) has filed a petition seeking measures to be taken to control the rising case of Domestic Violence during COVID-19 lockdown in the country.[4] The Delhi High Court after listening to the plea via Video Conferencing directed the Centre and the AAP government to take measures to curb the cases of Domestic Violence by 24th April 2020.[5]

Marriage is the institution where a man and a woman are joined in a special social and legal relationship for the purpose of making a home and raising a family and Divorce on the other hand is the legal separation of man and wife. Divorce separates a family, parents from their children, breaks sentiments and many more.

Thus, separation is no more a solution. Also, today the judiciary is already being burdened with the increasing number of pending cases and specially in the situation of Lockdown it seems to be somehow impossible for the Judicial Body to cope p with these problems.

Thus, it's the need of the hour to adopt an Alternative approach to solve such disputes. The cases of Domestic Violence falls under Matrimonial Disputes and in such cases the highly recommended Alternative approach is MEDIATION which falls under ADR i.e., Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code,1860 (IPC) deals with the matter of domestic violence. According to the section 320 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), Domestic Violence is a non-compoundable offence. The Supreme Court in 2013 sanctioned all criminal courts to adopt Mediation with specific regards to cases under Section 498-A of IPC[6].

In the case of Zulekha Begum vs Abdul Raheem[7] , the Madras High Court said- Under the Quran the marriage status is to be maintained as far as possible and there should be conciliation before divorce and thus the Quran discourages divorce and it permits only a after pre-divorce conference[8]

Justice Markanday Katju in the case of B.S. Krishna Murthy & Anr. Vs B.S. Nagaraj &Co. said that:
in our opinion, the lawyers should advise their clients to try for mediation for resolving the disputes, especially where relationships like family, businesses are involved. The lawyers should follow the advice of Mahatma Gandhi advice in the matter and try for Arbitration/ Mediation[9]

The fact cannot be denied that the cases of Domestic Violence has risen in the last few days but This too shall pass and just because of hardship of time, I believe its not at all appropriate to separate a complete family and their sentiments. Thus, Its highly recommended that as we are trying to break the chain of Corona Virus, its mandatory to break the chain of rising cases of Domestic Violence as well. Thus, lets adopt this Alternative approach of ADR and bring forward the initiative of -Why to separate, Let's Mediate.!!

End-Notes:

  1. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/india-witnesses-steep-rise-in-crime-against-women-amid-lockdown-587-complaints-received-ncw/articleshow/75201412.cms
  2. https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/india-news-rise-in-domestic-violence-across-all-strata-of-society-in-the-coronavirus-lockdown-period/350249
  3. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/04/locked-abusers-india-domestic-violence-surge-200415092014621.html
  4. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/implement-steps-to-curb-domestic-violence-during-covid-19-lockdown-high-court-to-centre-delhi-govt/articleshow/75249397.cms
  5. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/implement-steps-to-curb-domestic-violence-during-covid-19-lockdown-high-court-to-centre-delhi-govt/articleshow/75249397.cms
  6. https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2018/05/17/mediation-of-matrimonial-disputes-in-india-domestic-violence-cases-to-mediate-or-not-to-mediate/
  7. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1602536/?type=print
  8. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1602536/?type=print
  9. B. S. Krishna Murthy & Anr. Vs B. S. Nagaraj & Ors., S. L. P (Civil) No. (s) 2896 of 2010 ; http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-620-mediation-clearing-the-minefield-of-matrimonial-disputes.html

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