17 Jul 2008, 0248 hrs IST,TNN
KOLKATA: It was a bolt from the blue to Dipika Das of Regent Park when she learnt that her husband obtained a decree of divorce against her from the Lok Adalat. She was completely in the dark about the matrimonial suit her husband had filed in the Lok Adalat and sensed foul play in the matter.
Though, as per law, any decision of the Lok Adalat can’t be challenged in court, Dipika moved Calcutta High Court under Section 227 of the Constitution, asking it to exercise its power of superintendence.
Responding to her prayer, the high court on Wednesday stayed the decree of divorce and directed that notice be issued to her husband. The matter will be heard after three weeks.
While passing the order, Justice Partha Sakha Datta observed that though no appeal could be moved against any Lok Adalat order, the high court intervened, exercising its power of superintendence as it was alleged that the accused had committed fraud on the court.
Dipika was married to Sanjib Saha of the same locality in April, 2001. On May 7 next year, she gave birth to a male child. Over the years, their conjugal relationship deteriorated, but the couple were not separated on the intervention of well-wishers and relatives.
In April 2008, Sanjib told her that he got a decree of divorce from the Lok Adalat. Dipika was completely in the dark about the matrimonial suit filed against her. Surprised and shocked, the wife made an inquiry and learnt that her husband initially filed the suit before Alipore court. On January 15, it transferred the suit to the Lok Adalat and the decree was granted by the Lok Adalat on January 20 on the basis of a "joint application".
Dipika realised that her husband managed to make some other woman appear before the Lok Adalat in her place as she had neither appeared before the Lok Adalat herself nor signed any application or document whatsoever. It prompted her to move the high court.
Dipika’s counsel Kaushik Chanda pointed out before the court that in the matrimonial suit for divorce on mutual consent, it has been made mandatory that parties should file photograph and marriage registration certificate at the time of filing application. For getting a decree of divorce from a court of law, personal appearance of both the parties was mandatory. But, Chanda contended, no such precautionary measure or procedure had been adopted by the Lok Adalat.
As per law, parties seeking mutual separation from a court of law have to wait for six months after filing the application. "Nowadays, parties are no longer willing even to wait for six months. In a hurry, a number of matrimonial suits are being transferred to Lok Adalats for getting divorce in a day. In that view, the Lok Adalat should act with due caution and care so that no one can get a decree by committing fraud," Chanda said.