Supreme Court advises on recording comments during mediation
It impedes conciliation and is contrary to the principle of confidentiality
A division bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Bela M Trivedi has directed that comments should not be recorded during mediation settlement proceedings. If done, it would impede conciliation and would be contrary to the principle of confidentiality.
The Supreme Court was hearing an appeal moved against the order of the Orissa High Court, which had permitted the appellant-father to meet his child, subject to certain conditions.
The court, therefore, directed the observations in an order by the Orissa High Court to be erased from the record. "We disapprove the observations made in the impugned order, which refer to the comments made during the course of the mediation or settlement proceedings.
"The High Court should not have taken the aforesaid comments on the record, as the same would impede conciliation and is contrary to and impinges on the principle of confidentiality," the court said.
It noted that the matter had been remitted back to the family court. The top court requested the family court to decide on the application for joint custody and visitation rights in accordance with the law within a period of four months.
The apex court also permitted the applicant-father to interact with his child in the presence of the counselor attached to the family court.
It ordered, "The first such meeting would take place on 21 January 2022 at 3 pm. The counselor would fix the date and time of subsequent meetings as per his/her discretion, keeping in view the request made by the parties. The counselor would be at liberty to submit his/her report before the family court in a sealed cover."
It further said, "The family court would decide whether the report, if submitted should be made available to the parties. It would be up to the court to pass the interim order/direction as considered necessary and appropriate."
The court also clarified that the observations and the directions given in its order and the High Court order would not be construed as findings recorded or expression of opinion on the merits of the facts and contentions of the parties.