The Meaning of Judicial Reforms

Written by Pandurang Katti, Chairman – Save Indian Family Foundation

About Save Indian Family Foundation:

Save Indian Family Foundation, Bangalore is an NGO dedicated to promote the cause of Men’s rights, Gender Equality and Family Harmony. SIFF started as a website on March 10 2005 and now its movement with activities stretching across the country. In its five year SIFF has now around 30000 – 40000 families who have sought succour.

Why Judicial Reforms

Judicial reforms are the need of the Day in the Country. And the Reforms in the Family courts are even more urgent. A person can continue living a “normal” even if faced with criminal matter or been victim of crime in any fashion be it robbery or assault. However when faced with marital breakdown a persons life is put on hold till the verdict. Hence it is imperative that Marital Problem is given the highest priority and overhauling of system is important.

Just two days before there was judgement in Bombay high court where in after 14 years the husband was told that it is perfectly acceptable  for a  wife to harass him every day by quarrelling over petty and niggling issues or essentially not to meet any expectation that a man may have in marriage

This could have been told at the outset instead of taking 14 years for the same.

There is comprehensive sense that is being developed that a wife can literally get away with anything short of murder. Be it ignoring court orders on visitation , Slapping a husband inside a court premises, assaulting and husband be not granted even the relief of disassociating from the relationship forget about civil relief or criminal complaints. Where as on the other hand without any fault on baseless allegation the entire Legal. Judicial machinery hounds the husband and his family.

What is needed in Judicial Reforms?

Judicial reforms is not about tinkering with a few process it needs overhaul in following direction

Change of Laws: There are two many laws in the country against the husband in civil, criminal and quasi criminal arena which do not have standard procedures of normal laws applied to them examples are the Domestic Violence Act and the Section 498a. There are also multifarious laws for a same relief. There are five laws on maintenance for standard of living from a husband. This needs to change and complete gender equity, equality and fairness be brought about.  The laws need to harmonised and equalised by gender.

Change of Procedures, practices, presumptions and guidelines: There are multiple procedures which tend to become procedural harassment of the husband and there families. This should change. The heavy procedure need to be lightened and made more litigant friendly. A key example is on handling cases where in a husband (wife) is from out of station. In such a case the standard practice should be to provide two or three continuous dates so that the out of station person can take leave etc. It has become a procedure for the cases to be transferred to the place of wife’s liking. This should change and the convenience of a working person should be taken into consideration as there is far more stakeholders who need to be aligned for working spouse. To not allow more then 2 interim application would be useful guideline. There is a legal and social presumption which is best described by the Victim Women Criminal Men Syndrome which needs to change and  =it’s time for the entire system to get out of this trap.

Change in the current Transparency on dates and estimated dates on the court cases.

In India getting a reservation or attending the courts at a short notice puts a burden on litigants and litigants are clearly interested in knowing when will I get my decision .It is imperative that within 2 months the courts provide a schedule of dates and activity that will be conducted so that the litigant is clearly aware of the stages and phases and prepare accordingly. The judiciary can very take the help of project management expertise of the Ex- litigants for this matter. SIFF is willing to provide this expertise.

USE Technology: Involve litigants in defining the requirements of the computerisation process

Change in Attitude

The judiciary should not expect to be a great sermons speaking from Ivory tower.  They should clearly be aware of the difference in Matrimonial relief like divorce or child custody. The shift in attitude for family related cases are more in the nature of I am here to resolve the disputes and allow the parties to live a happy life. Currently there is an attitude that is felt that one should use laws, procedure, guidelines, practices and spurious arguments everything against a husband seeking relief.

That daily mental torture of arguments was not found sufficient for the small relief of merely dissolving the marriage by high court of Mumbai speaks of an attitude which has become completely numb towards the emotional and mental well being requirements of husbands. Such allegations made by women would have been called domestic Violence

A High Court Justice Raghuram of Andhra Pradesh mentioned in the SIFF Seminar in VIZAG that NGOs act as teachers of Judiciary. It is imperative that The judiciary interact with NGOs which do have the welfare of men and their families at hand like SIFF, CRISP, PURE, SFF, SFO etc. to understand and learn the emotional, mental requirements of the husbands as well. There are too many interactions which are focussed on the female gender by the judiciary. It is imperative to understand the needs, feelings, emotions of the male gender as well empathetically by all the actors of the legal system. Ideally the entire family court judges should take one Women’s NGO and one Men’s NGO for review

There is a chance of more harmonious Litigation when the both parties feel that the judge has their best interests in mind and will take care of it. Today, that a judicial officer has the best interest of the husband is neither evident nor visible. There is feeling that there is huge disparity in terms of support provided by all the actors of the legal system; be they be the law, lawyer, judge, mediator, police or their mindset and they all act with husband as a target with a view to milk him.

There has never been even an iota of attempt by the entire legal / police fraternity to understand or engage on the husband’s rights, expectations, and requirements from the legal system in terms.

What we want

In a nutshell  We want the Judicial reforms to include  the intent for even husbands to get the relevant  relief and justice , get out of the court battle and move on with life and restore our faith in the justice system

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