A Question of Propriety: Divorce Case

When she called up I was surprised and shocked. I had not imagined that the situation could be so bad. She was seeking a meeting with me, and said that her son was just a few months old. She wanted to make sure that when she travels a long distance to meet me, I will give her adequate time to hear her case.

She said there was no choice left then, she was expecting her husband, an employee, to file a divorce petition soon. She wanted to meet me in that matter, she sought my help. I used a small pause to gather myself. Obviously there was a conflict between an employee and his wife, and I was getting drawn in it somehow. ‘Limits are placed by one’s official role;’ I explained her, adding ‘I will not be able to transgress those limits.’ I also told her that as an HR manager my first responsibility is to my employees, not to others.

She said she understood my position, but politely pointed out that I was taking a stance before hearing her. She was articulate, persuasive and spoke fluent English. Something inside me told me that the situation was serious and I must exercise caution.

When it became clear by evening that I will have to travel to Hyderabad, I wondered at the synchronicity. She had called up from Hyderabad and she was going to travel all the way to Mumbai to meet me. And work demands that I go to Hyderabad the next day!

I called her up and mentioned my travel plan. I invited her to meet me at my hotel. She was welcome to join me for a breakfast meeting, I advised her, with her father. She came there with her father and uncle. She introduced herself, she was well qualified, a post graduate. Her marriage was arranged through some known persons. The young lady was not even thirty. Her husband was placed abroad for work and had a three year contract. She travelled with him. Not a happy marriage, she said. They fought bitterly. He treated her badly. The two year old marriage was on the rocks.

It was a dowry case!

The young lady was surprisingly well composed and did not make a melodrama of her story. Attempts to reconcile had failed. He was now shifted to India and she did not know his salary at all. He was giving her no money, and did not even come over to meet his son.

She said that he would present wrong information to the court about his salary which would affect her claim for alimony adversely. I should help her by giving her his salary details, she said, so that she could file a justified claim for maintenance.

Discreet enquiries led me to conclude that the facts explained by her were essentially correct, although I could not ascertain whether it was a dowry case. She called up later gave exact details of income mentioned by him. It was clear that he was misleading the court.

Normally salary details of an employee are never given to anyone except in some cases to banks. I wondered what I should do in such a case.

What would you suggest? Would you give it to her if you were in my position?