Rashid Paul

J&K HC asks SWD to examine if it could help women affected by marital discord

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Srinagar, June 03: The J&K High Court has directed the Social Welfare Department (SWD) to examine possibilities of providing sustenance to women (affected by marital discord) who are unable to receive maintenance in view the circumstances arising out of COVID-19 crisis.

“Secretary, SWD Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir should examine the possibilities of providing sustenance in cash or kind to those persons in whose favor maintenance orders have been passed but are not being complied with keeping in view the peculiar circumstances on account of COVID-19 crisis,” directed a division bench comprising Chief Justice and another judge of the High Court.

The court was earlier informed that in some cases the women and children were unable to get their maintenance. Payment of the sustenance amount had been stopped due to the male respondents losing their employment because of the ongoing lockdown.

“Be that as it may, cases in which the orders stand passed would show that a judicial mind has found a party in need of sustenance and maintenance. This would include the wives, children and parents of the respondents against whom orders stand passed,” observed the court.

It said in the given circumstances, implementation of coercive methods against persons who have not paid maintenance would serve no fruitful purpose.

It would appear that intervention is needed from the state authorities to assist this category of needy persons in cash or in kind, it observed.

The court directed the Member Secretary, J&K State Legal Services Authority (SLSA), to collate full information regarding the persons in whose favor orders regarding maintenance and the amount of award have been passed.

The court was informed of a status report filed on 1st day of this June by Member Secretary SLSA  depicting cases involving maintenance as well as child custody issues.

The court referred to a case Master Shine Choudhary vs. Pawan Kumar pending in the court of Special Railway Magistrate Jammu.

Visitation rights had been awarded in favor of the father of the child and the parents were jointly involved in the treatment of their lone child.

The court referred the case apt for exploring the possibility of a negotiated settlement by mediation. It directed the Member Secretary SLSA to explore the possibility of virtual mediation and assist the parties in resolving all their marital disputes.

Regarding a report about the non-functional status of Trauma Hospital Ramban for the last 10 years, the court directed the matter to be registered as Public Interest Litigation.

The court issued notices to the Secretary, Health and Medical Education, and impleaded the officer as respondent.

The respondent has been directed to file a status report on the issue before next date of hearing. The court appointed Monika Kohli as amicus curiae in the petition.

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