Public has a short memory and this has been proved time and again. “Irretrievable breakdown of marriage” was quite in discussion until some time ago and caught a high with the case of Smriti Shinde – daughter of ex-law minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde – filing a Public Interest Litigation to make the same as a ground of divorce as well but now the topic is completely out of discussion.
And further unfolding of the case revealed that it was actually a case of a “Mutual Consent” Divorce filed and one of the spouses refusing to abide by the mutual consent agreement even after a part of the agreement, based on which the consent was drawn, being fulfilled and thus divorce not being granted.
The performance of the judiciary in the society in general and in matrimonial cases in particular has not been something laudable. More often than not, the judges are driven by emotion and pre-defined stereotypic gender notions in arriving at their decisions leading to not only ignorance of evidence placed on record and the data available, but also at arriving upon socially harmful interpretations of law and at times overstepping their constitutional limitations and boundaries. It has also led to judges acting as “Social Workers” proving Harold Laski correct in the Grammar of Politics – “Judges do not deliver judgments; they only give decisions. They only decide which side argued better”.
The issue of non-compliance of mutual consent divorces by either of the spouses even after the full/partial execution of the terms of the consent, leading to agony to the other spouse is not limited or exclusive to women. Husbands are more at the receiving end of such practices wherein often they end up executing the payment part and then keep running from pillars to post for divorce which is held back at the whims and fancy of the wife.
Taking note of the gravity of the situation and realizing that it is more of a social problem and not a gender problem, a men’s rights activist from Bangalore, Pandurang Katti, wrote to the same bench before which the PIL was filed by Smriti Shinde. The letter requested the bench to consider elevating the letter to a PIL for setting general guidelines in mutual consent cases and offered help to the judiciary in assisting to arrive at a just conclusion.
More than a month has passed after the letter was officially received by the bench; the man is yet to hear from the bench. And then the judiciary keeps complaining of backlog of cases and being overburdened etc.
- Well, if one does not work, what remains to be said?
- If truly, the judiciary is overloaded, then why do they work only 5 hrs in a day, why not 10 hrs?
- Why do they take more vacations than schoolchildren?
- Why do they keep giving adjournments after adjournments rather than using their judicial discretionary power to keep delay of cases in control?
- Why don’t they come up with a filtration mechanism in admission of cases?
- Why don’t they invoke provisions under section 182/211 of the Indian Penal Code to punish people who file false cases?
- Why don’t they entertain perjury petitions to enable litigants to take action against people lying on oath, misleading the courts for their sinister and selfish agenda to be realized and waste precious judicial time?
- Why are they so afraid of transparency and accountability and run away from the Right to Information Act provisions?
- And, why does it take them decades to decide on petty issues like granting divorce or deny granting the same?
- Do they fail to understand that a couple is no longer interested in staying together and it is just and prudent to allow them to lead lives peacefully rather than just being forced to hang around in courts loitering for non-existent justice?
Even in this particular case, the Bench is unable to decide whether to accept the letter and elevate it into a PIL or to dispose it. It further drives home the message that the judiciary is not at all ready to LISTEN to men.
A copy of the letter sent is available at,