A single judge bench of Delhi High Court passed these guidelines to the Mediators…
From Para 42,
Chatter Pal and Ors Vs State and Anr on 16 May 2023
(b) Guidelines Apropos Drafting A Settlement Agreement in Matrimonial Disputes with Special Reference to Clauses dealing with Criminal Cases
42. Having discussed the significance of process of mediation in resolution of a dispute, especially those arising out of family and matrimonial cases, and having taken note of complexities that can arise due to inadequate drafting, inconsistencies, omissions or oversights within a settlement agreement achieved between parties subsequent to a successful mediation, this Court deems it appropriate to lay down following guidelines in relation to drafting of a Mediated Settlement Agreement, in addition to the guidelines laid down:
(i) Specify Names of Parties: The agreement must specifically contain names of all the parties to the agreement.
(ii) Avoid Ambiguous Terms: The terms such as ‘respondent’, ‘respondents’, ‘petitioner’ or ‘petitioners’, in absence of their names in the agreement must be avoided in an agreement as it leads to ambiguities and further litigation.
(iii) Include All Details: The terms and conditions of the agreement reached between the parties, howsoever small and minute they may be, must be incorporated in the agreement.
(iv) Timeline For Compliance: The timeline of the fulfilment of terms and conditions as well as their execution must be clearly mentioned. There should be no tentative dates as far as possible.
(v) Default Clause: A default clause should be incorporated in the agreement and the consequences thereof should be explained and enlisted in the agreement itself.
(vi) Mode of Payment: In case any payment is to be made as per settlement, the agreement should specify the method of payment agreed upon between the parties which should also be as per their convenience i.e. electronic mode, by way of a Demand Draft or FDR and the necessary details for fulfilment of this condition.
(vii) Follow-Up Documents: The agreement should also stipulate as to which Follow-up documents are to be prepared and signed by which party. It may also be mentioned as to when, where, how and at whose cost such documents are to be prepared in furtherance of the terms of the agreement, as far as possible.
(viii) Cases involving 498A IPC: Further, especially in cases of matrimonial disputes, where one of the conditions in the Agreement is to cooperate in quashing of FIR, such as those under Section 498A IPC, and filing of affidavit and appearing in the Court for the purpose of the same, it is advisable that the agreement must stipulate the names of all the parties concerned who have been named in the FIR specifically and the fact that the claims have been settled in totality for quashing of entire FIR and proceedings emanating therefrom qua all persons named in the FIR. It be also clarified specifically that the FIR will be quashed in totality against all the persons arrested, not arrested, chargesheeted, not chargesheeted, with their names and whether the entire FIR will be quashed against all of them upon payment by husband or any other person on behalf of the husband.
(ix) Criminal Complaints/Cross-cases: Criminal Complaints filed by parties against each other, pending trial or investigation should also find specific mention with names of all the parties, the Court concerned, and as to how the parties intend to deal with them. The number/details of the complaint, FIR, Sections under which they have been filed, should also be mentioned specifically.
(x) Read and Understood: The agreement should necessarily mention that all the parties have read and understood the contents of the settlement agreement in their vernacular language.
(xi) Signing of Agreement: In case only one or some parties are present during mediation proceedings and only their signatures are obtained on the agreement, it be clearly mentioned and clarified that the agreement is being signed on behalf of those relatives or parties also even in case they are not present, in case the agreement is qua them too and they are not present in person due to age, ailment, distance or any other reason. It is important to do so since in matrimonial offences, the near and distant relatives may, due to above reasons, not be present in person but agreements are reached in totality, especially regarding quashing of FIRs and criminal proceedings and withdrawal of complaints.
(xii) Clarity of Language: At last, the language used in a settlement agreement must be definite enough to understand the real intention of the parties and the goals they wish to achieve by entering into the agreement.