Thursday, December 07, 2023


SLSA Chandigarh sets up a Counselling Centre in ADR Centre, District Courts, Sector-43, Chandigarh.

YS RANA | August 16, 2022 10:01 AM

CHANDIGARH: Under the guidance of Ms. Justice Ritu Bahri, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh-cum-Executive Chairperson, State Legal Services Authority, Chandigarh, a Counselling Centre in ADR Centre, District Courts, Sector-43, Chandigarh has been set up by SLSA.

The Counselling Centre has been set up with the object of providing counselling in pre-litigation matters relating to matrimonial/family disputes pending with Women Cell, Chandigarh. The Counsellors at the counselling centre were providing counselling in matrimonial and other family disputes pending in District Courts, Chandigarh. The Counselling Centre is the first initiative of its kind in the States of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh and probably the first in India.

The matrimonial disputes such as Divorce petition, Maintenance (u/s 125 Cr.P.C.), custody matters of children, cases under Domestic Violence Act, u/s 498-A of IPC and other matters involving family disputes pending in the District Courts, Chandigarh would be referred to Counselling Centre for providing counselling to the parties.

Surender Kumar, Member Secretary, SLSA, Chandigarh stated that the Executive Chairperson, SLSA, Chandigarh in last had desired that in the light of Regulation 9 of National Legal Services Authority (Free & Competent Legal Services) Regulations, 2010, one Child Counsellor and two General Counsellors for providing counselling in matrimonial disputes and problems relating to senior citizens, be engaged through advertisement after seeking approval from Chandigarh Administration regarding payment of their honorarium, etc.

As per discussion with SHO, Women Cell, Chandigarh, 1700 complaints pertaining to matrimonial disputes were found pending in Women Cell, Chandigarh for reconciliation proceedings. It was also felt by State Legal Services Authority that setting up of counselling centre in ADR Centre, District Courts, Sector-43, Chandigarh was the need of the hour for providing counselling in matrimonial/family disputes.

Ms. Justice Ritu Bahri, that the matrimonial disputes are distinct from other types of disputes on account of presence of certain factors which are not obtained in other disputes. These factors were motivation, sentiments, social compulsions, personal liabilities and responsibilities of the parties, the view of two parties regarding life in general and to the institution of marriage in particular, the security for the future life and so on.

The matrimonial Counsellors help couples to understand the source of their conflicts and try to resolve them. Talking about their problems by couples to matrimonial Counsellors may not be easy and some sessions may pass in silence or shouting and arguing with each other by the couples. The matrimonial Counsellors can help address and resolve issues that couples may not realize are the core of their problems. The matrimonial Counsellors can help analyse the behavioral patterns of couples and identify those who lead the conflict. Therefore, the matrimonial counselling is necessarily different from ordinary counselling.

In the similar manner, the counselling of the children of the broken marriages is also essential to alleviate the problems of such children. The Law Commission of India in its 257th Report of May, 2015 on Reforms in Guardianship and Custody Laws in India emphasized the ‘‘welfare of the child’’ as the paramount consideration in adjudicating custody and guardianship matters. The worst affected in proceedings of divorce and family breakdowns are the children. Maintaining the central importance of the welfare of the child in proceedings of custody will help ensure that child’s future is safe and protected, regardless of changing familial circumstances. The Law Commission of India in its aforesaid 257th Report introduced the concept of shared parenting or awarding joint custody of children to both parents. The Child Counsellor plays a major role for counselling the children in matters of joint custody etc.

Surender Kumar, further stated that to achieve the aforesaid objects, the SLSA invited applications from eligible persons who are having minimum qualification of Master’s Degree in Sociology/social work/Psychology. That 67 applicants were found eligible for one post of Child Counsellor and two posts of General Counsellors and Selection Committee headed by Hon’ble Executive Chairperson, State Legal Services Authority, U.T. Chandigarh after interaction has appointed namely Ms. Sarita Rana as a Child Counsellor and Ms. Aakriti Joshi and Ms. Arshdeep Kaur as General Counsellors in Counselling Centre at ADR Centre, District Courts, Sector-43, Chandigarh on contract basis for a period of six months.

The Counselling Centre has started working in May last under the able guidance of Hon’ble Ms. Justice Ritu Bahri, Executive Chairperson, State Legal Services Authority, U.T. Chandigarh and Mr Gurbir Singh, learned District and Sessions Judge, Chandigarh and the Counsellors had also assisted the Courts on the occasion of National Lok Adalat conducted nationwide on that day. So far, 551 cases of pre-litigation matters and cases pending in District Courts have been referred to Counselling Centre and 47 cases have also been settled by Counsellors by giving counselling to couples in matters relating to matrimonial disputes, etc.

In one case, the husband and wife were having grievance with each other for a long period of about 28 years and their case under Domestic Violence Act was referred to Counselling Centre on May 23, 2022. Both the parties were made to sit together where they mentioned that they had been fighting for this case for a long period and they wanted a solution to this never ending circle of date of hearings in the Court. The Counsellor gave counselling to this couple in four sessions individually as well as jointly and after counselling both husband and wife realized that they had wasted a lot of time, energy and money on fighting with each other in the Court and their health was also being deteriorated. The husband and wife decided to part-ways amicably under Section 13-B of Hindu Marriage Act.

The couples having grievances even after obtaining divorce can approach Counselling Centre for counselling and redressal of their grievances.

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