Try biryani to kiss & make up
Judge’s new pill for squabbling couples
Bhopal, Nov. 23: Gangacharan Dubey has served up a recipe for fellow judges complaining their plates are full of frivolous cases — try ice cream and biryani.
The Bhopal magistrate has united one estranged couple with biryani and another with ice cream, setting a novel example in resolving matrimonial disputes that he believes often stem from minor tiffs.
Dubey’s approach represents a departure from a trend in some of Madhya Pradesh’s lower courts that have had to devote precious time in recent years to cases aimed at blocking films or bothering celebrities.
In the “biryani case”, a 22-year-old woman from an upper middle-class family had sought the arrest of her husband, an air force pilot, on charges of cruelty under the domestic violence act. The couple had drifted apart within weeks of their 2009 wedding.
Dubey was chairing a lok adalat when the case came up recently. “The woman’s complaint ran into nine-and-a-half pages. She had alleged almost everything, from dowry harassment and cruelty to denial of conjugal rights. I asked her if she had read the complaint. She sounded a bit unsure and said she had signed it,” the 35-year-old first class judicial magistrate, a gold medallist in his LLB exams, said.
On probing further, Dubey found that on their wedding night, Yasser, the 24-year-old pilot, had received a call from a woman friend. Bride Ayesha objected.
On way to Bangkok for their honeymoon, he received two more calls from other women friends. The couple returned mid-way through their trip. Yasser went back to his base in Dibrugarh, Assam, while Ayesha returned to her parents in Bhopal.
Dubey realised their dispute was rather frivolous. “I just took a chance asking the girl where she had met Yasser first and what they had eaten. I then suggested to them to spend a quiet evening together. They both told me that they had eaten chicken biryani,” he said.
The couple went to Noor-us-Sabah hotel, facing Bhopal’s famous Bada Talaab and the place where they had met before marriage. A court official watched them from a distance.
The next day, the girl came back to the court, said she wanted to withdraw the case and give “another chance to their relationship”.
Dubey said a provision under Section 28 of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 — enacted primarily to protect women’s rights — empowered judges to set their own procedures for disposal of cases.
In the other case, lawyers of a young mother had accused her husband of harassment, misconduct and other serious offences under the same act. “When I probed the woman, I realised the two sides had come to a point of no-return over ice cream. She was extremely fond of ice cream but the husband was denying it on grounds that she was breastfeeding the child and he did not want the kid to catch cold,” Dubey, a father of two children, said.
Then came the order that broke the ice. “I told him (the husband) to take her out every evening for a week to different ice cream parlours and submit bills to the court. Seven days later, the differences were gone and complaint was withdrawn,” Dubey said.
In the most outstanding of such cases, Dubey recalled a groom who took sanyas after being told by his wife on the first night that she wanted to join police instead of marrying him.
“For some years, there was no sign of him. Later, he was traced in Mathura, in saffron robes. He told the court that he had turned a sanyasi. At this point, I asked him to get a hair-cut, sport jeans and T-shirt, and experiment with grihastha (domestic life) before opting for sanyas. I offered him a motorcycle to take the woman out. They went for a ride. It was drizzling then. Soon, they returned to say they wished to resume their domestic life on a fresh note.”
The cases, Dubey suggested, had a lesson for courts. “Why should lawyers and police be acting as home-breakers, making copious and fabricated chargesheets?
Why should courts and judiciary spend hours listening to such frivolous cases when far more serious cases of corruption and criminal conduct require their time and attention?” he asked.