BY- SAFEEYA SABEER
The Delhi High Court recently ruled that handwritten clauses in mediation settlements should be phased out immediately unless they are countersigned or initialed by the Mediator or Counsellor, as well as the parties in their presence (Mahinder Singh v. Meenakshi Yadav).
During the hearing of a contempt suit brought by a husband against his wife alleging willful disobedience of the family court’s directives, single-judge Justice Najmi Waziri made the remark about the practice of handwritten clauses.
It was claimed that the wife’s lawyer gave an undertaking that she did not wish to pursue the marriage because the matter had been settled amicably and both parties had decided to dissolve the marriage. Despite the fact that the wife was not present on the specified date, the matter was settled by the family court based on the lawyer’s declaration.
A Division Bench of the Delhi High Court held in the Rajat Gupta case that the settlement should be recorded in clear and unambiguous terms, that the parties should have understood the terms and not handwritten, that the parties should have made them of their own free will, and that their statement before the court should have been recorded on solemn oath.
None of these components were followed in the case at hand, according to the Amicus Curiae appointed in the issue. It’s worth noting that the mediation agreement had handwritten sections that weren’t signed in the areas where they were supposed to be.
Justice Waziri also directed family courts to make sure that settlement agreements are recorded in compliance with the law. The Court also determined that the current case did not fall within the category of contempt.
“As previously stated, the settlement agreement between the parties was not in accordance with the Division Bench’s decision, nor was there any undertaking of the respondent recorded before the learned Family Court, nor was there an affidavit directed to be filed or filed affirming the terms of the settlement; thus, the settlement agreement does not form a part of the court order. As a result, it is impossible to say that the respondent has been in contempt of court. There is no evidence of contempt.”
The Court dismissed the petition based on these findings.
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