On 22nd and 23rd May, 2023, the International Arbitration and Mediation Centre (IAMC) Hyderabad, in collaboration with Telangana Police (Women Safety Wing), organized a Mediation Sensitization Programme for the Police Officers of Women Safety Wing – State of Telangana.
The esteemed trainers for the workshop were Ms Veena Ralli, Organizing Secretary, Samadhan, Delhi High Court Mediation and Conciliation Centre; Senior Advocate Mr Vikram Pooserla, Telangana High Court, SIMC Specialist Mediator; Ms Chitra Narayan, Advocate & Senior Mediator; Mr Tariq Khan, Registrar, IAMC Hyderabad; Ms Poornima Kamble, Partner, Fox & Mandal, SIMC Specialist Mediator, and Ms. Ekta Bahl, Partner, SAMVAD Partners, SIMC Specialist Mediator.
The workshop saw the participation of 80+ Inspectors from all around Telangana; mediators, senior advocates and law firm partners and law students. The programme started off with the felicitation of the speakers, followed by inauguration of the programme by Ms. Shikha Goel, IPS, Additional Director General of Police, Telangana Police Women Safety Wing, where she delivered the keynote address. In her address she emphasized that the police officers should not have any kind of bias while dealing with a case and they must understand the mindset of a victim and therefore, such trainings are necessary for improving communication skills.
She also mentioned that disputes between husband and wife or between brothers or other members of the family, need to be handled with more care and caution, especially in cases involving Section 498A.
She further stated that it is the first time that a training of this kind has been organized and thanked IAMC for extending support.
She said that it is the duty of the officers to take action as per law and register complaints wherever necessary, However, in some cases it is crucial to identify whether the dispute can be solved by conciliation. Thus, this workshop will help the police officers in identifying the real problem and determine whether the dispute is capable of being resolved by conciliation or not. She also said that as police officers sometimes “there is a need to act as counsellors, and sometimes as parents also” since marital dispute is not only between a husband and wife rather it is a family dispute, which often arises out of small misunderstandings and can generally be resolved. However, if the disputants do not have a possibility of reconciliation, of course there is always the legal route available that begins with the registration of a case.
Though the police manage a lot of cases and investigations on a day-to-day basis, a dispute between a marital couple requires hours of counselling, which has time constraints and thus, this workshop will be helpful in upskilling the officers to handle and mitigate such disputes speedily and efficiently.
Mr Tariq Khan, Registrar, IAMC, spoke about effective communication and conflict management and said that,“Training is more about unlearning than learning.” He stated that police officers should practice active and empathetic listening, effective communication and the ability to diffuse emotionally charged complainants and deescalate conflicts. He further stated that conflict arises “when people’s basic needs for recognition, affection, and affiliation are not met.”
Ms. Poornima Kamble explained the concept of SCARF (Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, Fairness) with respect of the demeanour of police officers in dealing with matrimonial or domestic disputes. The police officer can only aid in pre-litigation conciliation and not act as trained mediators, which if required, then the police is supposed to refer them to formal mediation institutions or trained mediators. “You are not here to judge or blame. You are here to be neutral without any bias.”
She further mentioned that in non-compoundable offences or disputes against the society, conciliation is never an option in such matters and only compoundable offences can go for mediation, depending upon the willingness of the parties.
Ms. Veena Ralli stated that as per the Supreme Court of India, every matter must be tried for mediation first. It is necessary to identify whether the components of Section 498A exist or not. If the essentials of Section 498A IPC do not get fulfilled, it can be decided whether the parties are to part ways peacefully or to live together. To deal with complaints u/s 498A IPC, the police officers must effectively communicate, be empathetic and credible and ask open ended questions to determine whether the components of Section 498A of IPC exist or not.
Mr Vikram Pooserla stated that even if mediation is not provided for under any statute, yet “attempting to reconcile/resolve is very critical, because if you cannot practise it at ground level, you cannot do it at a higher level.”
He further remarked, “If you have a robust procedural set-up, rarely things will go wrong.” Therefore, police officers need to follow protocols while dealing with disputes with utmost patience and discharge swift resolution, with minimal harm in less time. “We are expecting it out of you today because if you can save the case from escalating to a higher level today, then you can save burdening the higher levels.”
Ms. Ekta Bahl remarked, “It is important to understand your role as a police officer. As police officers, you look at the law, who the offender is, and what the punishment is but it does not help the victim.” She further mentioned that it is essential to “focus on the individual rather than State as the victim and attempt to make reparations to the victim” by fulfilling the victim’s needs and amending the wrong done. “An offender has to be given a chance to make reparations to the victim and resolve the issue through dialogue.”
Ms Chitra Narayan stated, “We carry biases because of some experiences we have had and because of how our brains are structured.” Carrying bias affects the work of a police officer. “To overcome bias, acknowledge that there are biases within us. Do things slowly rather than immediately reacting slowly and coming to conclusions. Talk to each other about what biases are. “
Role plays were organised throughout the workshop for 2 days to train the officers not only theoretically but also equip them to handle the practical situations based on the roleplay problems devised by IAMC.
Ms. Shikha Goel, IPS, Additional Director General of Police, Telangana Police Women Safety Wing in her concluding remarks, mentioned, “Our Women Safety Wing handle marital disputes and domestic violence issues. I am sure that this training will benefit them immensely.”