Pending cases in Kerala’s family courts mount to frustrating heights

In 2018, Beena (name changed), a typist in the Kerala Police department, realised that her 15-year-long marriage was emotionally dead and beyond repair. That is when she decided to end the suffering and call it off.

However, when the matter reached a Kerala family court, Beena found her suffering multiplied several times over. The COVID-19 pandemic, too, added to her woes. At the time of the wedding, Beena was gifted 42 sovereigns of gold by her parents. The gold is still in the possession of her husband and Beena is paying instalments of the loan taken for the family before her separation. The wait for divorce has been so frustrating that Beena is ready to forsake her claim on the gold. All she wants is divorce. “I don’t want anything. I am feeling frustrated to the core. I just want divorce, nothing else,” Beena told The Federal.

A visit to any family court in Kerala would reveal why Beena wants to give up the fight. Scores of men and women who line up at the family courts seeking resolution to matrimonial issues, custody, or maintenance for their children, go through the same trauma of an endless wait and complete uncertainty over when life would get back to normal.

What makes Kerala’s case different is that the state is among the frontrunners in the number of litigations in family courts. The division bench of the High Court of Kerala recently observed, “The state of Kerala, which accounts for 3 per cent of the country's population, has one of the highest numbers of matrimonial cases in the nation.” The bench made the observation while disposing of a batch of petitions seeking resolution for the problems being faced by litigants due to the inordinate delay in disposal of cases by the state’s family courts.

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