Men’s rights groups are up in arms against the new Marriage Bill. Surely enough, 99 per cent do not know why they want to ‘stop marriage bill’. The bill seeks to amend the Hindu Marriage Act (1955) and the Special Marriage Act (1954) that provides for “irretrievable breakdown on marriage” as a ground for divorce as well as grants women the right to a share in the self-acquired property of their husbands.
The “irretrievable breakdown on marriage” clause is “gender-neutral” since even men would be able to move the court for it. Both parties have to live apart for at least three years before filing such a divorce petition. The need of this provision was direly felt because either party who does not want to marry can hold the other to ransom by simply denying consent for divorce.
The Law Commission observed that restricting divorce to matrimonial disability results in an injustice in cases where neither party is at fault, or if the fault is of such a nature that the parties do not wish to divulge it and yet the marriage cannot be worked out. It refers to a situation where the emotional and other bonds, which are the essence of marriage, have disappeared and only a façade remains. The commission concludes that where a marriage has ceased to exist both in substance and in reality, divorce should be seen as a solution and an escape route out of a difficult situation. Such a divorce should be concerned with bringing the parties and the children to terms with the new situation and working out a satisfactory basis for regulating relationships in the changed circumstances. Not to dwell on the ‘wrongs’ of the past.
In the recent case of Naveen Kohli v. Neelu Kohli , the Supreme Court held that situations causing misery should not be allowed to continue indefinitely, and that the dissolution of a marriage that could not be salvaged was in the interests of all concerned. Thus one fails to understand why men’s groups are terming a legislation which is so welcome at least in one out of two major issues it tackles as draconian and disastrous.
So far as granting women the right to a share in the property of their husbands is concerned, there is a case for the provision being made gender neutral. If the property acquired with joint contribution is in the name of the wife, husband should get a share in it. But the exaggeration and chest-beating by men’s groups is wholly unwarranted. Men’s groups never mention that women will have the right to a share only in the self-acquired property of their husbands and not at all in the inherited property. Rather they use words and expressions as if the whole of the ancestral and self-acquired property will be taken away by the wife. Secondly, the Courts would decide the “extent” of the wife’s share in her husband’s self-acquired property, both moveable and immoveable, in case of a divorce. The judge will decide as per the facts and circumstances of each case and nobody should have any fear of injustice in this respect. Delays apart, the judiciary in the country has always been fair and impartial. Read marriage bill
About the Author
I am R P Arora an advocate for truth and justice.
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