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Report No. 15

75. Matrimonial tribunal.-

Coming next to matters of procedure, the National Christian Council, Nagpur, has strongly pressed for the constitution of a matrimonial tribunal, consisting of a clergyman and some respectable members of the community to bring about reconciliation between the parties to a matrimonial cause. They suggest that as soon as a dispute under the Act comes before the court, it should be transferred to the tribunal, that the latter should try informally to effect a settlement, and if that fails, then and only then should the matter be taken up by the court for trial under its ordinary procedure.

The object behind this suggestion is without doubt, commendable, but there are considerable difficulties in the way of accepting it in the form suggested. If the tribunal is constituted under the provisions of the Act, it becomes a statutory body and cannot function informally, as desired. It is true that in holding an enquiry, it is not bound by strict rules of evidence, but it has to observe rules of natural justice, and its findings will be open to attack in the normal way on appropriate grounds, and it is agreed that it is not such a body that is in their contemplation.

The lawyer witness, who elaborated this point in his evidence, stated, after some discussion, that the object would be achieved if a duty is cast on the court to bring about, whenever possible, reconciliation, and a power is given to it to refer the matter to a person agreed to by the parties or suggested by the court, for the purpose of effecting settlement. We consider that that could be done, and have accordingly inserted a clause authorising such a reference. The referee under this provision is not a tribunal, not even an arbitrator, as under the Arbitration Act, but a conciliator, and a reference to him will be optional with the court.

Report on the Law of Christian Marriage and Divorce Back

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