THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Ever since the Covid outbreak, the judiciary is among the sectors affected the most. For the past one month, amid the lockdown, the family court in Thiruvananthapuram offers no option for a petitioner to file a new case. Most cases are getting adjourned and posted for a later date, according to advocates. Fresh cases of divorce, custodial issues, maintenance applications and so on cannot be filed whereby many aren’t getting the muchneeded judicial assistance.
An advocate who doesn’t wish to be named says: “Every case is getting adjourned. No facility to accept fresh petitions has been implemented, which is equivalent to denying justice to scores of families. If no alternate arrangement is made, then no judicial support can be extended to the public.” Even criminal miscellaneous petition (CMP) cases, which are needed for getting maintenance, were not considered, the advocate said. According to sources, over 10,000 cases were pending in the Family Court at Thiruvananthapuram before the Covid-outbreak and with all the cases getting adjourned and no fresh petitions being accepted, justice is getting delayed. Recently, the previous relieved duties and the new judge is set to assume office this month.
After the first lockdown, the family court saw a few long-pending cases being called in while the rest were suo motu posted to a later date, advocates point out. More cases were considered after relaxations were brought in. But the second wave has dealt a sharper blow. “For instance, if there is a domestic violence case, we cannot file a petition. A judicial remedy is the ultimate remedy and that can’t be obtained if we can’t file the petition.
This pandemic situation is set to continue for some time and we need to find a suitable online alternative that will be able to streamline the whole process,” says Anitha Aji, an advocate who practises at the Thiruvananthapuram district court. Advocate Renjini C R, who too practices there, echoed similar sentiments. “Scores of petitioners aren’t getting proper legal assistance. Cases are pending for the past two years. There is no office staff now and we can’t file any new petition,” she says. The situation has also dealt a heavy blow to the advocates on the economic front.
The advocate who wished to remain anonymous, says that while advocates are reeling under economic hardship, the staff at the court are getting paid even when cases aren’t being considered much. Muraleedharan G Vallakkadavu, secretary, Trivandrum Bar Association, says that in times like these the focus is on staying alive and the situation is unavoidable.
Even then, urgent issues are being heard in the court, he says. “Extremely urgent cases and those needing quick remedy can still be brought before the court. There are more parties involved when it comes to a court and we may have to rely on online meets and devise new plans to address the issue and ensure the safety of everyone concerned,” says Muraleedharan.
‘PROCEEDINGS HAVE TO CHANGE’
P D Sargadharan, retired district and sessions judge and former T’Puram family court judge, said proceedings have to change according to the times. “We can’t keep adjourning cases until the situation get back to normal. In the case of maintenance cases, urgent relief needs to be given. For filing a new case, we need to implement e-filing. Proper training also needs to be given for that. If cases aren’t disposed of speedily, case pendency will increase. Lengthy cross-examination is one of the reasons that lead to case pendency,” says justice Sargadharan.