UP panchayat settles divorce on stamp paper

Gives father custody of six-month-old baby boy

 Panchayats in Uttar Pradesh have now started settling divorce cases through ‘kangaroo courts’.

A caste panchayat at a village, 30 kilometres from Lucknow, settled divorce between a couple on a stamp paper in a meeting on Saturday. It also handed over the custody of a six-month-old baby to the father ignoring passionate plea of wailing mother.

According to reports, Bharti Devi and Mahesh Singh got married two years ago. Bharti had given birth to a baby boy six months ago. 

The couple, according to the two families, never got along well and used to have fights. Bharti had left her in-law’s house on many occasions but later returned home after elders of the family intervened.

The two families approached the caste panchayat after it became clear to them that the couple could not live together.

The panchayat deliberated the matter for several hours on Saturday.  
When Mahesh and Bharti refused to live together it allowed them to separate. The two were made to sign an agreement containing the terms of divorce on Rs 20 stamp paper not realising that such a divorce has no legal value.

The custody of child was given to the father ignoring mother’s plea. “I do not know how the child will survive without me,” said the child’s distraught mother. The two sides were also asked to return the gifts given to each other during the marriage.

“Panchayat has no authority to decide such cases. After going through reports, stern action will be taken against the guilty,” said sub-divisional magistrate Chotelal Mishra.

Panchayats in Uttar Pradesh are infamous for their insensitive and at times bizarre diktats.

In the past also they have pronounced death penalty for lovers and even let off rape accused by imposing fines.

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