Outnumbering of Original Petitions in Family Courts

Anyone who has ever gone to a Family Court, will know that it is not the best place for litigation. There is no decency or ethics, neither among lawyers nor between litigants. This is mostly due to deficiencies in the legal system and unreasonable laws biased in favour of the women.

Here I am concerned with a related matter, about docket multiplication. When a couple approaches a family court for divorce and other related reliefs, there would be numerous cases filed on their behalf.

The husband would be filing for restitution of conjugal rights, custody of children etc, whereas wife usually files for divorce, maintenance, return of gold ornaments etc. Currently, all these are separate cases, having separate proceedings and docket numbers. There would be minimum three original petitions and one miscellaneous case (apart from 498A and domestic violence criminal cases), when a warring couple decides to fight it out in family court. As a topping to the chaos, all these cases are granted separate docket numbers, like OP, MC, MP etc.

I have always wondered why a particular couple is not given a single docket number, so that it is easy for the lawyers and registry to handle their cases. I know, all these cases would not originate all at once, but during different periods of time. But still, if a couple is given one main docket number, and is allowed to file interlocutory applications for maintenance, custody of children etc, then it is more easy for everyone to handle the case file.

Anyhow, at the end, joint trial of all the connected cases would be ordered by the Family Court. So why cant these separate original petitions, of a single family, be consolidated into one? Postings, personal appearance, counselling etc become easy that way.

One original petition intimating arise of the matrimonial dispute, and everything else under it as interlocutory applications. It would be a civilised way of conducting litigation in an otherwise adverse environment.

No water for Ducks – Practically and Legally!

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One of my clients who is engaged in rearing of duck, wanted to know the various licenses he should have, to conduct his duck farm, legally. He had none at present. But, during the dawn of Goods and Service Tax, he wanted to know the details of other licenses required to conduct duck farming .

In Kerala, duck farming is regulated under the Kerala Panchayat Raj (Licensing of Livestock Farms) Rules, 2012. According to the Rules, one can rear 15 poultry birds in one cent of land. In addition to that, based on the number of birds reared, there should be Fertilizer Pits (വളക്കുഴി), and burial pits (if there are more than 5000 birds), for the farm. The license is to be issued by the Secretary of the concerned Grama Panchayat. The certificates from the Pollution Control Board and District Medical Officer, are necessary, though it can be exempted by the Secretary, if it is so felt by him, on basis of location of the farm.

However, there is a catch to all these. The farm cannot be operated in a paddy land. This is because, according to Kerala Conservation of Paddy land and Wetland Act, 2008, the Panchayat is prohibited from issuing any license in any property classified as Paddy Land. My client was operating his duck farm in a paddy land. Although his land is only partially reclaimed, the entire land is included in the data bank as paddy land. So he cannot get any license from the Panchayat.

This is an anomaly in the law as ducks are traditionally reared in paddy fields.  Although I suggested to my client to file a writ petition, to cure the anomaly, he declined to proceed with a case. He rather preferred to do his business under the radar of law, having done so, peacefully, for the last several years. When I pressed him for the real reason for his hesitation, the answer astonished me.

Conventionally, although ducks require amble amount of puddled water for growth; in poultry farms, they are reared in cages, without taking them to water. My client has vast extent of wetland but none of his ducks have the fortune to swim in it. So according to my client, if a case is filed to cure the anomaly in law, it may backfire, questioning his very method of duck farming.

One thing is very clear. In Kerala, ducks and farmers are in a state of Catch 22.

If one rears ducks in paddy fields, then he will not get license, and it is rather illegal; and if he rears ducks in a dry land, then ducks will be in cages deprived of their natural environment and growth. Of course, ducks can be reared in household ponds, but that is never done in large scale.

In short, there no water for ducks, practically and legally. In other words, law prevents organic farming of ducks in Kerala.

The N-th procedure to correct Data Bank

I can’t really remember all those methods that were formulated to correct the data bank under the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, 2008. There have been numerous. All those procedures were either replaced or repealed, before any application could reach a logical conclusion.

If I remember correctly, first it was the Thasildar under the Kerala Land Tax Act who was empowered to correct the Basic Tax Register (and in course the data bank), if it was found that the land in reality is not a Paddy Land. Later, his power was curtailed, and the Kerala High Court assumed this role in its original jurisdiction. But when number of cases that are filed got out of control, the Kerala High Court decided to relegate the function to the Local Level Monitoring Committee or the Revenue Divisional Officer, depending on the entry in the data bank. Thereafter, in the year 2015, the UDF Government brought in the controversial Section 3A for correction of data bank by the District Collector. But again, this section was repealed after the Kerala High Court warned of it being struck down as unconstitutional.

Sometime in the year 2016, somebody informed the Kerala High Court that there is a Center for Remote Sensing at Thiruvananthapuaram, which has taken satellite pictures of all of Kerala, and it could reveal how the land was lying as on the year 2008. So now, the Kerala High Court has again assumed the responsibility of correcting the data bank, after calling for report from this “Kerala State Remote Sensing and Environment Centre, Thiruvananthpuaram” through the Agricultural Officer, who is the convener of the Local Level Monitoring Committee. This is the procedure in currently in vogue for correcting the data bank, but now it is learned that a new notification has come into effect.

I haven’t seen the official notification, but the newspaper report is enclosed here under for reference. According to that report, one has to go directly to the Local Level Monitoring Committee, for correction of mistakes in the data bank, within 90days from 1st June 2017. The time limit of 90days is prescribed only for the Kerala High Court to strike it down.

For me, one thing is very clear. The Kerala Conservation of Paddy land and Wetland Act, 2008, is an unruly gal, wandering here and there without any resolve, and yet to enter her teenage. When she is a teenager, I bet, all including the Kerala Government, Environmental Activists and Kerala High Court would vie to tame her, and get her attention, with their own pieces of advice.

So, according to me, it is better to wait and watch, and see how this girl grows up into a woman, instead of rushing in for her immediate attention.

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PS: The amendment GO (P) No. 34/2017/Revenue dated 30/5/2017 (SRO 301/2017) is embedded hereunder

Constituent Assembly Debates on Alcohol

In the book, India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha, the following passage about Constituent assembly debates was found interesting:

Jaipal Singh, himself an adivasi, albeit of a rather special kind. Jaipal was a Munda from Chotanagpur, the forested plateau of South Bihar peopled by numerous tribes all more-or-less distinct from caste Hindu society. Sent by missionaries to study in Oxford, he made a name there as a superb hockey player. He obtained a Blue, and went on to captain the Indian team that won the gold medal in the 1928 Olympic Games.

Three years later, in the discussion on the draft constitution [of India], Jaipal made a speech that was spirited in all senses of the word. Bowing to pressure by Gandhians, the prohibition of alcohol had been made a directive principle. This, said the adivasi leader, was an interference ‘with the religious rights of the most ancient people in the country’. For alcohol was part of their festivals, their rituals, indeed their daily life itself. In West Bengal ‘it would be impossible for paddy to be transplanted if the Santhal does not get his rice beer. These ill-clad men . . . have to work knee-deep in water throughout the day, in drenching rain and in mud. What is it in the rice beer that keeps them alive? I wish the medical authorities in this country would carry out research in their laboratories to find out what it is that the rice beer contains, of which the Adibasis need so much and which keeps them [protected] against all manner of diseases.”

So I’m not alone in thinking that alcohol is an essential ingredient in leading a spirited life. Certain enlighted founders of the Indian Constitution also shared this view.

Candlelight Justice

This was the state of affairs in Wakf Tribunal, Ernakulam, today morning (on 26.5.2017). No electricity, no ventilation light. The judge was given a candle, to see minimum. The lawyers were given their colonial gown. Everyone had super fun, courtesy the unforgiving summer.

Vayaliparambil, Vazhakkala Annex..!

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A dream come true.. A home for my twins to run around.. Some land for me to plant trees.. Introducing my new address – Vayaliparambil, Moolepadam Road, Vazhakkala, Kakkand West – 682030. Everyone is invited.!

Epson M205 All-in-One Mono Ink Tank Printer – User Review

It was with much expectations that I bought Eposon M205 Print/Scan/Copier Ink Tank Inkjet printer, three months back, from Flipkart.com. But within these three months, I had to call the customer service center thrice to repair the printer. The basic problem with this printer is with its paper feeder. The paper feeder of the printer (not ADF), is noisy and seriously faulty. The printer does not intake the papers properly. And even if it does, many times, the printer would simply eject the paper without printing anything, as if the paper was not inserted properly. It is a frustrating exercise to print 10pages in this printer.

Another problem with this printer is with its paper-jam-sensors. Even if no paper is jammed inside the printer, it would show that some paper is jammed inside. Switching the printer off-n-on for two to three times, would magically remove the jammed paper, and resolve the problem.

The Customer Service Center of Epson in Kochi, Kerala is another frustrating point. They would never answer the phone in their published phone number. One has to go to that place and invite the person to repair the printer. Once they could not even repair the printer at one go, but made me wait for a week for obtaining some part of this faulty printer.

On a whole, I would not recommend this printer to anyone. If Epson is kind enough to take mine back and refund my money, I would be much obliged !