Delhi High Court Emphasizes Need for Hindi in Matrimonial Disputes Settlement Agreements

The Delhi High Court recently issued guidelines for the drafting of mediated settlement agreements in matrimonial disputes, highlighting the urgent need for such agreements to be available in Hindi. The court emphasized that the majority of litigants in Delhi, who primarily speak Hindi, face difficulties in understanding settlement agreements drafted only in English. It noted that while Hindi translation services are available in the court system, settlement agreements are currently exclusively drafted in English, potentially leading to misinterpretation or misunderstandings.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma, presiding over the case, acknowledged the importance of mediation in resolving family and matrimonial disputes and recognized the complexities that can arise from inadequate drafting. To address these concerns, the court laid down specific guidelines for the drafting of mediated settlement agreements in matrimonial cases.

The court’s guidelines include the requirement to specify the names of all parties involved, avoid ambiguous terms, incorporate all details of the agreement, clearly outline the timeline for compliance, include a default clause with enumerated consequences, specify the mode of payment, stipulate follow-up documents, address cases involving Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) pertaining to cruelty towards married women, deal with criminal complaints or cross-cases, ensure comprehension of the agreement’s content in the vernacular language, clarify the signing of the agreement on behalf of absent parties, and ensure clarity of language used in the agreement.

Furthermore, the court directed the In-charge of Mediation Centers to ensure that mediated settlement agreements are prepared in both English and Hindi whenever possible. By promoting coherence, consistency, and unambiguity in these agreements, the court aims to minimize challenges and disputes arising from unclear or missing aspects of the settlement.

The case before the court involved a marriage that experienced irretrievable breakdown due to incompatible behavior, leading to a complaint by the wife alleging physical and mental cruelty for dowry demands. The matter was referred to a mediation center, resulting in an amicable settlement between the parties. However, subsequent events, including the filing of a chargesheet and a change of mind by the complainant, raised complications. The court recognized the settlement reached and quashed the FIR against the accused, emphasizing that it would be unjust to allow the criminal proceedings to continue when the matrimonial disputes had been resolved through mediation.

With this judgment, the Delhi High Court seeks to facilitate the healing process and provide clarity in mediated settlement agreements, thereby reducing the potential for future litigation. The court’s ruling underscores the significance of Hindi in matrimonial disputes and calls for greater attention to be paid to drafting agreements in a manner accessible to all parties involved.

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