A Division Bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M Trivedi therefore, directed the observations in an order by the Orissa High Court 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 record, as the same would impede conciliation and is contrary to and impinges on the principle of confidentiality,” the Court said.
The 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.
After expunging the offending observations, the top court proceeded to consider the matter on merits.
It noted that the matter had been remitted back to the family court and therefore, requested the family court to decide the application for joint custody, visitation right etc., in accordance with the law within a period of 4 months.
The Court also permitted the applicant-father to interact with his child in the presence of the counselor attached to the Family Court.
“The first such meeting would take place on 21.01.2022 at 03.00 PM. The counselor would fix 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,” the apex court directed.
However, the Court 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.
Senior Advocate Jay Savla and Advocate-on-Record Renuka Sahu appeared for the appellant.
Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao, Advocate-on-Record Bhabna Das, Advocates Arunav Patnaik and Aanchal Tikmani appeared for the respondent.