Court Should Not Take On Record Comments Made During Mediation Or Settlement Proceedings: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that taking on record the comments made during the course of mediation or settlement proceedings impedes conciliation and impinges on the principle of confidentiality.

While disapproving the observations made in the order dated April 20, 2021 passed by the Orissa High Court, bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M Trivedi in its order said,

“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 record, as the same would impede conciliation and is contrary to and impinges on the principle of confidentiality. Accordingly, the paragraphs 11 and 12 of the impugned order would be erased from record.”

The observations was made while the bench was considering a SLP assailing Orissa High Court’s order dated April 20, 2021 in which the High Court had permitted the petitioner (respondent/ child’s father) to meet/ visit the child subject to some conditions.

After considering the counter and rejoinder affidavit, the bench on noting remittance of matter to the Family Court requested the Family Court to decide the application for joint custody, visitation right etc. in accordance with the law within a period of four months from the date of order.

The bench also permitted the appellant to interact with the Child in presence of Counsellor attached to the Family Court, Bhubaneswar, Orissa.

“The first such meeting would take place on 21.01.2022 at 03.00 PM. The counselor would fix the date and time of subsequent meetings as per her/his 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 sealed cover. It would be open to the Family Court to decide whether the report, if submitted, should be made available to parties. It will be open to the Family Court to pass interim order/direction as are considered necessary and appropriate,” bench also observed.

Case Title: Arjab Jena@ Arjab Kumar Jena V. Utsa Jena @ Pattnaik| Special Leave to Appeal (C) No(s). 19259/2021

Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 21

Coram: Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M Trivedi

Counsel(s) for Petitioner: Senior Advocate Jay Savla, Sr.Adv and AOR Renuka Sahu

Counsel(s) for Respondent: Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao, AOR Bhabna Das & Advocate(s) Arunav Patnaik and Aanchal Tikmani

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