Gujarat govt has introduced Family First—Samjavat nu Sarnamu (Family First—a place for persuasion), a scheme for out-of-the-court settlement of family disputes with the intervention of social, religious and reputed people of the society.
Committees will be formed at District and Taluka levels which will include seven members each. It will comprise government officials and local religious/social leaders.
Law Minister Rajendra Trivedi stated, “The state government has been continuously making attempts so that there is family security and harmony in the state. The state government has adopted a new approach to strengthen family relations and to preempt family disputes.”
He added, “Maximum possible attempts will have to be made (by the committees) to arrive at a compromise so that family members do not have to pass through the difficult legal procedures. A decision will be taken after inquiring about all the factors affecting the family security and welfare.”
“To promote public welfare and make justice available through an effective social system is the state government’s priority. This system has been set up with a good intention of resolution of family disputes with the intervention of social leaders, religious leaders and locally reputed persons,” Trivedi added.
By virtue of their post, the district collector and taluka mamlatdar will be the chairman of the two committees respectively. Each committee will have locally elected persons and people with sound legal knowledge. At least two lawyers will be part of the committees and a woman representative wherever possible.
District collector will appoint the members of the two committees. Their tenure will be for a year but collectors can renew it. Members of the committee can be removed by the legal department on its own or under the recommendation of the district collector while recording the reasons for the removal.
The non-governmental members will be eligible to get an honourary daily wage of Rs 1,500 but cannot go beyond Rs 8,000 in a month. The committee can schedule meetings as many times they feel the need.
The district committee will be at District Seva Sadan and the taluka committee will be at Taluka Seva Sadan.
The arguments made before the parties will be kept confidential. Part of these proceedings cannot be utilised as evidence in any judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings. The committee’s decision should be approved by both the parties in dispute.
“There are many things which cannot be done in a legal proceeding but can be amicably resolved in such proceedings with intervention of social/religious leaders who command lots of respect in their respective areas. Rs 2 crore has been earmarked for the scheme. More money can be allotted for it depending upon the response we get from people,” said a senior official.