Internship @ Allahabad High Court Mediation and Conciliation Centre: Observing Proceedings, Understanding ADR, Enriching Experience

By Aditi Kharbanda of Allahabad University.

There is a lot of difference between the knowledge we acquire inside the four walls of a classroom and the knowledge we gain outside the classroom. As a law student,one needs to be well-versed and skilled in practically applying the laws as well as knowing the laws.

Therefore, after the end of my second semester exams on 31st May, 2014, I decide to intern at the Allahabad High Court Mediation and Conciliation Centre (AHCMCC) and thus applied for the same.

The Allahabad High Court Mediation and Conciliation Centre (AHCMCC) was the third mediation centre in the country after the mediation centres of Chennai and Delhi High Courts respectively. I

t was inaugurated in the month of October, 2006. It is a court-referred mediation centre and the court refers those cases to the mediation centre which it deems fit. Usually matrimonial disputes, negotiable matters of property, motor vehicle accident claims,etc. are referred to the mediation centre and matrimonial disputes are the most common.

Though I got to witness cases of matrimonial disputes all the seven days of my internship.

On the first day of my internship i.e. on 9th July, 2014, I reached the mediation centre at the assigned time which was 2:00 p.m. I got to know that I would be interning with nine more law students, some of which were from my college and the rest were from colleges like Aligarh Muslim University, Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University, etc.

We were addressed by the head of the mediation centre, Mr. Vijay Kumar Singh who gave us a brief insight into the history of mediation and also answered our queries patiently. He parted by wishing us good luck and instructed us to be present at the centre at 4 p.m. from the next day.

The next day I arrived on the assigned time and all the interns were asked to sit in a room with a register and pen to note down the proceedings of the session as at the end of the internship we had to submit a report on our internship experience and the mediation sessions we attended.

As we were told earlier, the mediators were two lawyers of the High Court and they commenced the session by stating that the option of mediation was optional and confidential. Since the case was about the dispute of a Muslim couple, a lawyer who was well-versed in Muslim law was one of the mediator.

The wife claimed that the husband used to beat her and had abandoned her when she was carrying their baby and she did not want to reconcile with him whereas the husband wanted to unite with her.

The lady seemed adamant but after being explained by the mediators about how her divorce could affect their baby and its growth she agreed to re-think about her decision. The husband who was regretful about his behaviour also thanked the mediators and the next session date was decided.

On the third day, the case involved the dispute of a couple from Haryana and the husband was a contractor and alleged that his wife talked to her father a lot and told him things she was not supposed to and this irritated the husband. The wife on the other hand claimed that the husband’s mother taunted her on everything and the wife did not wish to stay with him in his parental home.

The husband agreed that he would live with her separately on the condition that she would not discuss everything with her father. Initially, she refused  but after being explained by the mediators she realised her fault and the couple united and left the centre happily after thanking the mediators.

On the fourth day, we came across a case wherein the couple had been married for three years and had no children. Wife had not been staying with the husband since last one and a half year. Wife claimed that her brother-in-law used to torture her by spitting in her food, trying to injure her with his bike, etc.

She was willing to stay with the husband but was not ready to stay at her parental home. She wanted him to get a home at rent at some other place away from his village. Husband claimed that he went to take her from her maternal home but she refused to come with him. He was also ready to keep her with him but only at his parental home.

He claimed that he would get his room separated from the rest of his house with the help of a boundary. Since both the parties were willing to stay together but a deadlock arose that the wife didn’t wish to stay with her in-laws, the mediators gave them time to ponder over the matter and resolve the deadlock. Mediators facilitated the proceedings in a prudent manner.

On the fifth day, the case dealt with the matrimonial dispute in which on the earlier dates the couple had agreed for a positive settlement but asked for some time for further consideration. They were together only for two months after their marriage and were not together since the last six months.

Wife claimed that her husband used to beat her by banging her head on the almirah and with a belt. Her husband and in-laws disapproved of her because of her dark complexion and even asked for dowry. Both parties wanted time to talk alone which the mediators provided and they talked for half an hour.

The wife said that the husband should accept her as she was and should not ask for dowry. An interim settlement was done according to which husband would take the wife home for a week on 22th July, 2014 and they would see if they can live together and the final settlement would be reached at by the mediator in the second week of August,2014.

Thus there were many more such cases which I noted in my mediation report and submitted it within a week after my internship as per the deadline .Thus all the cases were quite interesting and also tested the skills of the mediators that whether they could resolve the disputes among the couples.

It is a very sad fact that most people of our own city do not know about the mediation centre and students choose to go out of the city for internships despite the fact that the mediation centre gives us such a wonderful experience of internship.

The mediation centre not only reduces the work of the court, it also gives people a platform to speak their hearts out and redress their grievances since it is a confidential process. The parties amicably sort out their issues and the mediators just assist them and since the parties themselves solve the issue, the terms of settlement are acceptable to the parties.

Mediation helps the parties realize the underlying issues of their dispute and results in a win-win situation for all parties involved. It is a cheaper, effective and amicable way of solving disputes.

A popular feeling that courts work hand in hand with the mediation facility produces satisfactory and faster settlement among the parties. Therefore, it can be said that mediation works for developing a more civilized society by providing a mutual settlement.

Despite learning new things about laws and their applicability I also learned how important communication is in every relationship and how our tone and manner of saying things can save or break our relationships.

I also learned that one should not give up on the first instance and we should always try to resolve petty issues for a happier life. Thus, this experience enriched me professionally as well as personally.

Therefore, I would like to conclude by stating that I thoroughly enjoyed my internship experience at the Allahabad High Court Mediation and Conciliation Centre and the only grievance I had was that the certificate of internship was given to us much later than the prescribed time.

But notwithstanding this delay, I would encourage students to apply for internship at the mediation centre and approach the head of the centre by meeting him directly in his office which is at the centre itself or by calling on the landline number of the centre

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