NEW DELHI: Divorce cases will go from being in the soup to an alphabet soup, but for the better this time. Nom de plumes will be the order of the day as the Delhi High Court has directed family courts to use pseudo names for couples embroiled in divorce cases so that their identities and that of their children can be protected. The court recommended that proceedings may be held in camera, if possible. The guidelines issued by the High Court have been forwarded to the Ministry of Law and Justice for implementation across the country.
According to the guidelines, “Family courts in the orders uploaded on the website or made available otherwise, suitably anonymise the names of the parties. The names like ABC or XYZ can be used. The Family Court should as far as practicable invoke the power under Section 11 of the Family Courts Act 1984 and hold the proceedings in camera.”
“With a view to respect the right to privacy of not only the parties but in the best interest of the child, the court has decided that the names of the parties as appearing in the cause list title should be anonymised. The registry is directed to remove the name of both the parties from all the records and place one copy in a separate sealed cover which will be kept with the registrar. The other copies shall be weeded out by shredding. The contents of the sealed cover will be allowed to be inspected only upon specific prior permission from the court,” said the guidelines.
It also bars children from accompanying parents to courts. “Unless there is a specific order of the family court, or where the party thinks it to be absolutely essential, or where alternative arrangements are unable to be made, parties should avoid bringing children. Lawyers should also advise their clients... since visits to courts to witness the legal contests between and among parents and relatives is not desirable or conducive for healthy development of children.”
➤ Though the Delhi HC order says names of parties to divorce in judgments should not be revealed, in family courts, parties are called out by names
➤ During trials, parties must appear before the judge in open court halls that are crowded with litigants, counsel and the public
➤ The Family Courts Act, 1984, had preferred in camera proceedings. But, due to high pendency, most have to be held in open courts
➤ Though a more casual environment in family courts is preferred for parties to express their issues freely, that’s hardly the case
➤ Most courts have no proper dining or other facilities. So litigants have to stand among the general public