In an attempt to curb prolonged litigation in marital disputes and to find ways for an amicable settlement in divorce and dowry harassment cases, the Supreme Court laid down guidelines.
It was made mandatory for subordinate courts to first make efforts to settle such disputes through mediation.
A bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai directed all mediation centers across the country to set-up pre-litigation desks or clinics to resolve marital discords before they reach courts.
As the success rate of mediation in SC in matrimonial cases is around 15%, the court said resolving such acrimonious litigation through alternative means would explore the possibility of a settlement at an early stage.
The bench said family courts shall refer divorce and custody cases for mediation even if counselors submit a failure report. In such cases, the courts shall fix a reasonable time for mediation centers to complete the settlement process.
Similarly criminal courts dealing with dowry harassment cases should, before taking up the complaint, refer the parties to mediation centre.
However, it has to be ensured that the rigour and efficacy of the dowry harassment provision under IPC doesn’t get diluted.