Remember the tagline in a Fevikwik ad a few years ago that said “Joins everything except broken hearts”? The point to note here is this: even with the creative licence that ad makers routinely exercise as a matter of right while making ads and launching campaigns, the maker of this particular ad did not dare claim that Fevikwik could join broken hearts. But our courts obviously think differently.
If it is not already clear, let me clarify that the context for this rather convoluted introduction is the long running family drama involving Dr Sumit Sahu and Tapaswini Dash of Berhampur running on news television for weeks now. I have no intention of getting into who is to blame for this marriage gone sour. And I sincerely believe no one should do that because we don’t know what exactly led to the discord between husband and wife in the first place. My problem is with the series of orders the courts in Berhampur have been passing in their desire to unite them. A few questions need to be asked in this regard. Do the courts have a role in the whole affair? Should they be intervening in a marital discord that has clearly gone beyond repair? In their efforts to bring about a rapprochement between the feuding couple, are the courts not unwittingly helping to further exacerbate the tensions between husband and wife and causing a further hardening of attitudes?
Let us examine the fate of the orders issued by the courts so far. On December 2 last year, the SDJM court in Berhampur, in a reconciliation bid, had directed the couple to stay together for a week in the guest house of a sugar mill in Aska. Accordingly, husband and wife stayed together but they did not have any interaction during the stay there. On December 9, the same court issued another order asking them to stay in a rented accommodation. This time, the husband went ‘missing’ after just one day. Tapaswini even lodged a complaint at the local police station in this regard. And finally on Tuesday, the district court overturned the decision of the SDJM court, which had rejected Tapaswini’s plea on December 20, and allowed her to stay at her in-laws’ place. But two days after the court order, Tapaswini is yet to move to the upper floor room earmarked for her and continues to stay in the garage instead. The court also ordered Sumit to pay Rs 17,000 by way of maintenance to Tapaswini before 10th of every month. The order presupposes that she would not be accepted as a member of the family, doesn’t it? Otherwise, why would she need money for maintenance while staying inside the family? No wonder, minutes after the district court order, Sumit’s father made it clear that they would challenge the order in the High Court.
What all of this proves is best described in the adage; “You can take the horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink”. On the face of it, the idea behind the two orders issued by the SDJM court on December 2 and 9 as well as the one issued by the district court on Tuesday were unexceptionable. After all, there was no way the courts could have refused to hear Tapaswini’s fervent plea to be reunited with her estranged husband. But if the objective was to remove the misunderstandings between husband and wife and bring about a rapprochement between them, it has been a spectacular failure. Not only is it now abundantly clear that Sumit, while perfunctorily complying with the court order for fear of inviting a contempt of court charge, has absolutely no intention of honouring it in letter and spirit. If anything, there are clear indications that the series of court orders, along with the public humiliation by Tapaswini’s 44-day long dharna in front of his house, has hardened his attitude and made him even more determined not to give Tapaswini what is her due as a legally wedded life. She may stay in Sumit’s house as long as she wants, but is unlikely to win back the affection of her husband she appears to have lost for good.
This columnist is aware that this piece runs the risk of being misinterpreted as anti-Tapaswini (and thus anti-women) and pro-Sumit (and thus male chauvinist). But even with this risk, he is willing to stick his neck out and say that the courts cannot unite the warring couple. If there is any possibility of the two coming together, it has to be brought about through the efforts of family elders, well-wishers and counselors. Instead of passing order after order that are observed in letter but not in spirit, the courts should ask the above mentioned to play peacemaker.
(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)
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