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CRISP Views on Marriage Law Amendment included by Parliamentary Committee PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Parliament of India : dept of standing committee   
Emblem

PARLIAMENT OF INDIA

RAJYA SABHA

DEPARTMENT RELATED PARLIAMENTARY STANDING COMMITTEE ON

PERSONNEL, PUBLIC GRIEVANCES, LAW AND JUSTICE

FORTY FIFTH REPORT

ON

THE MARRIAGE LAWS (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2010


________________________________________________________________________

(PRESENTED TO THE RAJYA SABHA ON 1ST MARCH, 2011)

(LAID ON THE TABLE OF THE LOK SABHA ON 1ST MARCH, 2011)

RAJYA SABHA SECRETARIAT

NEW DELHI

MARCH, 2011 / PHALGUNA 1932 (SAKA)

CS (P & L) - ....

C O N T E N T S

PAGES

1. COMPOSITION OF THE COMMITTEE (i)

2. INTRODUCTION (ii)-(iii)

3. REPORT 1 - 30

*4. RELEVANT Minutes OF THE MEETINGS OF THE COMMITTEE …..

*5. ANNEXURE –

A. THE MARRIAGE LAWS (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2010

B. COMMENTS OF THE MINISTRY OF LAW AND JUSTICE (LEGISLATIVE

DEPARTMENT) ON THE VIEWS/SUGGESTIONS CONTAINED IN MEMORANDA

SUBMITTED BY INDIVIDUALS/ORGANISATIONS/EXPERTS ON THE PROVISIONS OF

THE BILL.

* To be appended at printing stage.

COMPOSITION OF THE COMMITTEE

1. Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan  Chairperson

RAJYA SABHA

2. Shri Shantaram Laxman Naik

3. Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi

4. Shri Balavant alias Bal Apte

5. Shri Ram Jethmalani

6. Shri Parimal Nathwani

7. Shri Amar Singh

8. Shri Ram Vilas Paswan

9. Shri O.T. Lepcha

10. Vacant*

LOK SABHA

11. Shri N.S.V. Chitthan

12. Smt. Deepa Dasmunsi

13. Smt. Jyoti Dhurve

14. Shri D.B. Chandre Gowda

15. Dr. Monazir Hassan

16. Shri Arjun Munda

17. Shri Shailendra Kumar

18. Smt. Chandresh Kumari

19. Shri Bhajan Lal

20. Dr. Kirodi Lal Meena

21. Ms. Meenakshi Natarajan

22. Shri Devji M. Patel

23. Shri Harin Pathak

24. Shri Lalu Prasad

25. Shri S. Semmalai

26. Shri Vijay Bahadur Singh

27. Dr. Prabha Kishor Taviad

28. Shri Manish Tewari

29. Shri R. Thamaraiselvan

30. Adv. P.T. Thomas (Idukki)

31. Vacant

SECRETARIAT

Shri Deepak Goyal, Joint Secretary

Shri K.P. Singh, Director

Shri K.N. Earendra Kumar, Joint Director

Smt Niangkhannem Guite, Assistant Director

Smt. Catherine John L., Committee Officer

(i)

* Vacancy caused due to death of Shri M. Rajasekara Murthy on 5th December, 2010.

INTRODUCTION

I, the Chairperson of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee

on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, having been authorised by the

Committee on its behalf, do hereby present the Forty Fifth Report on The Marriage Laws

(Amendment) Bill, 2010. The Bill seeks to amend the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and the

Special Marriage Act, 1954 to provide for irretrievable breakdown of Marriage as a new

ground for grant of a decree of divorce.

2. In pursuance of the rules relating to the Department Related Parliamentary

Standing Committee, the Hon’ble Chairman, Rajya Sabha referred the Bill, as introduced

in the Rajya Sabha on the 4th August, 2010 and pending therein, to this Committee on the

23rd August, 2010 for examination and report.

3. Keeping in view the importance of the Bill, the Committee decided to issue a

press communiqué to solicit views/suggestions from desirous individuals/organisations

on the provisions of the Bill. Accordingly, a press communiqué was issued in national

and local newspapers and dailies, in response to which memoranda containing

suggestions were received, from various organizations / individuals / experts, by the

Committee.

4. The Committee heard the oral evidence of the Secretaries of the Legislative

Department, Ministry of Law and Justice and Ministry of Women and Child

Development on the provisions of the Bill in its meeting held on 17th September, 2010

and 28th September, 2010 respectively. The Committee also heard the views/suggestions

of various women organizations/individuals/experts on the provisions of the Bill on

11th and 16th November, 2010.

5. While considering the Bill, the Committee took note of the following

documents/information placed before it : -

(i) Background note on the Bill submitted by the Ministry of Law and Justice

(Legislative Department);

(ii) Views/suggestions contained in the memoranda received from various

organisations/institutions/individuals/experts on the provisions of the Bill

and the comments of the Legislative Department thereon;

(ii)

(iii) Views expressed during the oral evidence tendered before the Committee

by the stakeholders such as representatives of NGOs/women's

organizations/individuals.

(iv) Other research material/ documents related to the Bill.

7. The Committee adopted the Report in its meeting held on the 2nd February, 2011.

8. For the facility of reference and convenience, the observations and

recommendations of the Committee have been printed in bold letters in the body of the

Report.

New Delhi; JAYANTHI NATARAJAN

2nd February, 2011 Chairperson,

Committee on Personnel,

Public Grievances, Law and Justice

(iii)

Chapter-I

The Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010 was introduced* in the

Rajya Sabha on the 4th August, 2010. It was referred♣ by the Hon’ble

Chairman, Rajya Sabha to the Department-related Parliamentary Standing

Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice on the 23rd

August, 2010 for examination and report.

2. The Bill (Annexure-A) seeks to amend the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

and the Special Marriage Act, 1954 to provide for irretrievable breakdown of

Marriage as a new ground for grant of a decree of divorce; and also to

provide certain safeguards to protect the interests of wife and children and do

away with the waiting period of six months for moving a joint petition for

grant of divorce by mutual consent.

3. The Statement of Objects and Reasons, appended to the Bill inter alia

reads as under:-

“The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 was enacted on the 18th

May, 1955 to amend and codify the law relating to marriage

among Hindus. Similarly, the Special Marriage Act, 1954 was

enacted on the 9th October, 1954 to provide a special form of

marriage in certain cases, for the registration of such and certain

other marriages and for divorce. The provisions of the said Acts

have proved to be inadequate to deal with the issue where there

* Published in Gazette of India (Extraordinary) Part-II Section 2 dated the 4th August, 2010.

♣ Rajya Sabha Parliamentary Bulletin Part-II (No.47173) dated the 4th August, 2010.

has been irretrievable breakdown of marriage and therefore a

need has been felt for certain amendments therein.”

“Having regard to the recommendations of the Law

Commission of India and the observations of the Hon'ble

Supreme Court as aforesaid and the demand from various

quarters, it is proposed to amend the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

and the Special Marriage Act, 1954 so as to provide for

irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a ground of divorce

thereunder subject to certain safeguards to the wife and affected

children.”

4. With this objective in view, the Bill proposes to make the following

amendments:-

(a) to insert section 13C in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and

section 28A in the Special Marriage Act, 1954 to provide for

divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage.

(b) to insert section 13D in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and

section 28B in the Special Marriage Act, 1954 to provide for a

right to wife to oppose the petition for divorce on account of

irretrievable breakdown of marriage on the grounds of grave

financial hardship.

(c) to insert section 13E in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and

section 28C in the Special Marriage Act, 1954 to ensure

provision of adequate maintenance to children born out of the

marriage consistently with the financial capacity of such parties

to the marriage before granting a decree of divorce on the

ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage; and

(d) to amend sub-section (2) of section 13B of the Hindu Marriage

Act, 1955 and sub-section (2) of section 28 of the Special

Marriage Act, 1954 so as to do away with the waiting period of

six months for moving a joint motion after filing a petition for

grant of divorce on the ground of mutual consent.

5. The background note on the Bill submitted to the Committee by the

Ministry of Law and Justice (Legislative Department) states that the history

of the development of the Hindu Law has shown that it was never static and

had changed from time to time so as to meet the challenges and the

changing requirements of different times. The Special Marriage Act, 1954,

being a civil law and applicable to all, has to necessarily keep pace with any

reform in the field of matrimonial laws.

5.1 Initially, the grounds available for divorce under sub-section (1) of

section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 were limited to adultery,

conversion to another religion, incurably of unsound mind for a continuous

period of not less than three years, suffering from virulent and incurable

from of leprosy for a period of not less than three years, suffering from

venereal disease in a communicable form for a period of not less than three

years, renouncement of the world and not heard of as being alive for a

period of seven years.

6. The Department further informs that in the year 1974, a need was felt

that it would be reasonable and desirable to liberalize divorce provisions and

on the basis of the Law Commission's recommendation, the Marriage Laws

(Amendment) Act, 1976 was enacted to include "cruelty" and "desertion" as

new grounds for grant of a decree of divorce under section 13 of the Hindu

Marriage Act, 1955 and also to provide divorce by mutual consent by way of

a new section 13 B of the said Act.

6.1 The grounds for divorce presently available under both these

enactments are mainly of three categories. The first category is based on the

traditional theory of matrimonial fault. The second is based on the theory of

frustration by reason of specified circumstances. The third is the theory of

consent. There is, however, no ground in these Acts which expressly

provides for divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage.

6.2 Subsequently, keeping in view various decisions of courts holding

that it would be unreasonable and inhuman to compel parties to keep up the

façade of marriage even though the rift between them is complete, and there

are no prospects of them ever living together as husband and wife, etc., "the

Law Commission of India in its 71st Report on" The Hindu Marriage Act,

1955 - Irretrievable Break Down of Marriage as a Ground of Divorce",

submitted on 7th April, 1978, has recommended insertion of a new section

13C for divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage.

While the said report was being considered in consultation with the State

Governments and Union territories, several decisions of the Supreme Court

including Miss Joden Diengdeh Vs. S.S. Chopra (reported in AIR 1985 SC

935) and Navin Kohli V/s. Neelu Kohli (reported in AIR 2006 SC 1675),

recommended insertion of irretrievable breakdown of Marriage as a ground

for grant of divorce. Pursuant to the above referred decisions of the

Supreme Court, the Law Commission of India took up study of the subject

and after examining the extant legislation and various judgments of the

Supreme Court and High Courts on the subject, has recommended in its

217th report on "Irretrievable Break Down of Marriage - another Ground for

Divorce" submitted on 30th March, 2009, inclusion of Irretrievable Break

Down of Marriage as a ground for grant of divorce.

6.3 The recommendations of the Law Commission of India have been

considered and it is felt that the provisions of the aforesaid Acts have

proved to be inadequate to deal with the issue where there has been

irretrievable breakdown of marriage and therefore, amendments to the said

Acts are necessary.

7. The Department asserts that accordingly, the Marriage Laws

(Amendment) Bill 2010 has been prepared to provide irretrievable

breakdown of marriage as a new ground for grant of a decree of divorce by

inserting new section 13C. It is also proposed to insert new section 13D to

provide for a right to wife to oppose the petition for irretrievable

breakdown of marriage on the ground of hardship. With a view to protect

the interests of children born out of marriage, it is also proposed to provide

adequate safeguards by inserting a new section 13E for ensuring provision

of adequate maintenance to children before a decree for divorce on the

ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage can be granted. Similar

amendments are also proposed in the Special Marriage Act, 1954 by

inserting new sections 28A, 28Band 28C. It is also proposed to amend subsection

(2) of section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and sub-section

(2) of section 28 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954, respectively, by doing

away with the waiting period of six months for moving a joint motion after

filing a petition under section 13B for grant of divorce of the ground of

mutual consent.

8. The Committee heard the presentation of the Secretary, Legislative

Department of the Ministry of Law and Justice on the Bill on the 17th

September, 2010 and recorded the views of Secretary, Ministry of Women

and Child Development during its meeting held on the 28th September,

2010 on the Bill.

9. In order to have a broader view on the Bill, the Committee decided to

invite views/suggestions from desirous individuals/organizations.

Accordingly, a press release was issued inviting views/suggestions from

individuals/organizations. In response to the press release published in

major English and Hindi dailies and newspapers on the 18th September,

2010, a number of representations were received.

10. The Committee examined the representations received on the Bill.

Having analyzed these representations, some of them were identified to be

considered as memoranda containing pertinent suggestions/comments on

the various aspects of the Bill. Some significant issues raised in such

memoranda have been summarized in the succeeding Chapter. Some select

memoranda were also forwarded to the Ministry of Law and Justice

(Legislative Department) for their comments. The list of these memoranda

along with the gist of views and suggestions and corresponding comments

of the Ministry of Law and Justice on such views/suggestions is placed at

Annexure....

11. Given the far reaching legal and social implications of the Bill, the

Committee decided to hear the views of all important stakeholders on the

Bill so as to have a deep insight of the subject matter of the Bill. For this

purpose, the Committee invited various non-official witnesses

(individuals/organizations) to appear before the Committee for tendering

oral evidence. The Committee heard the views of National Commission for

Women and some NGOs namely MAJLIS, (Center for Women's Rights

Discourse & Legal Initiative), Gender and Human Rights Society, Lawyers'

Collective and Women's Rights Initiatives, Mothers and Sisters Initiatives,

All India Democratic Women's Organization, Save Family Foundation,

Children's Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP) and Mr. S.R.

Abrol, a concerned individual.

CHAPTER II

The major points raised in the memoranda received from the

individuals and organizations are summarized as follows:

(1) It is important to introduce breakdown of a marriage as an

independent ground of divorce in totality and not as part of it.

(2) The legislature needs to understand that under the changed

socio-economic conditions of the society, the women have

come forward to accept the challenges and they have tried to

become self-reliant. They no longer want to live at the mercy of

their husbands.

(3) If the proposed legislation is passed, there will be a total of 6

sections under which a Hindu woman can claim maintenance

leading to unnecessary complications and duplication of law.

(4) The proposed legislation is silent on the issue of child custody.

In the best interest of children, a separation between husband

and wife should also include provisions on mechanism to deal

child custody matters. Child custody and visitation rights

should also be decided before granting divorce, while deciding

maintenance of the child under this Bill.

(5) Wife has right to oppose petition on grounds of ‘financial

hardship’. It clearly ignores large number of cases where

husbands have filed for maintenance under Hindu Marriage Act

from wife.

(6) The proposed legislation is silent on what will happen to the

pending cases like Domestic Violence Act, 498A IPC, Child

Custody, CrPC 125 and any other Civil and Criminal cases and

has left scope for future litigations. It should ensure that all

proposed litigation between the parties are settled before

granting divorce.

(7) Just to think that women only are weak and need protection and

it is always the men who are harassing a wife shows complete

disconnect from the ground realities.

(8) The proposed provision that Courts can stay the case until

appropriate arrangements are made will lead to legal extortion

with the help of lawyers and vengeful women. This will force

husbands to ‘buy’ divorce regardless of, who at fault, is. This

proposed amendment will widely be misused.

(10) The current concept of gender neutrality like that of Section 24

of the Hindu Marriage Act which takes into consideration that

both the husband and the wife can face financial hardship has

been totally ignored in the proposed amendment.

(11) The term ‘financial hardship’ should be defined because

otherwise this will lead to a subjective interpretation of this

term and will ultimately turn into a tool for extortion and will

be used to block a divorce till the unreasonable financial

demands of the respondent are fulfilled.

(12) Provisions for all the ornaments and other cash/ goods that the

wife received for the marriage as gifts shall be returned to the

husband in the event of divorce.

(13) If property like flat, land etc. is purchased with husband's

money, ownership of same should be granted to the husband. In

case wife has contributed for same out of her earnings, joint

ownership must be granted by the court, proportional to

investment. Also the benefits under any insurance policy

including health insurance, should be decided proportional to

investment.

(14) All court cases should be decided in less than 3 years. Cases

filed by Senior citizens (60 years or more) should be given

priority in all courts. Vacancies of judges should be filled up

urgently and additional judges appointed to clear pending cases.

Special courts should be set up to hear cases for divorce.

(15) At least a minimum of 6 month’s time is required for separation

with a minimum of 3 sittings with both the parties. This time

period is required to calm the initial force of decision of

separation.

(17) The compensation to the wife should be at least 70% of total

income of husband or more. The total income should include all

allowances, perks, incentives and monthly salary. The Initial

compensation should be made Rs. 50,000/- in rural areas and

Rs. 1,00,000/- in Urban areas. The compensation should be

stopped if she remarries or stays in relation with another person

to restrict adultery.

(18) The laws should be made in simple language to be understood

by everybody.

(21) Issues such as, whether it has been a long term or short term

marriage, whether the wife is a wage earner and also a home

maker or merely a home maker, and which of the spouses is

desirous of obtaining a divorce and is keen to move on in life

become key concerns in this discourse. Other factors such as

age and class also play a part.

(22) A discussion over women's right to matrimonial home and

property should proceed alongside the discussion on

irretrievable breakdown of marriage so that certain safeguards

can be built into the proposed legislation to secure women's

rights.

(23) Unless women are treated as equals in a marriage and given the

same financial and other security that men have on its

breakdown, it would be discriminatory to further liberalize the

grounds of divorce.

(24) Equal rights to wife in the property acquired by the couple

during the subsistence of the marriage and equal division of the

marital property upon separation has to be legally provided.

(25) It must be ensured that a provision is made that women with

children have a house/ place of residence.

(26) The laws relating to maintenance for women and children must

be strengthened to ensure that women/ children receive an

adequate amount of maintenance sufficient enough for them to

live in a lifestyle which is similar to the one they were used to

in the marital home. Special laws for disclosure of income of

the Husbands and shifting of onus of proof in these cases will

have to be considered. Ways and means to lessen the discretion

of the judiciary in these matters must be thought of as women

and children have invariably been awarded very low

maintenance amounts by a large number of Courts.

(27) The Government has to enact a law to enforce and recover

maintenance amounts. Apart from this a fund will have to be

created from which maintenance can be immediately given to

the wife and children. In several countries separate enforcement

agencies have been created to recover maintenance amounts. It

is a duty of the State to see that women and children are not left

to fend for themselves in these cases.

(28) Entitlements from the state should be made essential for

deserted/ separated/ divorced women and children in cases in

which there is no property or cases in which no maintenance

can be granted because of poverty and/ or other reasons.

(29) Sub section (2) of section 13B of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

and the subsection (2) of section 28 of the Special Marriage

Act, 1954 needs to be removed since the waiting period of six

months for moving a joint motion after filing a petition for

grant of divorce on the ground of mutual consent serves no

purpose but creates unnecessary bad blood and acrimony in the

two families.

(30) The role of NGOs may be incorporated in helping getting

divorce in case of irretrievably broken down marriages. The

NGOs after providing counseling to both the sides, may give

their opinion in the courts.

(31) The role of the advocates in the above said cases may be

minimized as it is seen from experiences that they make all

sorts of efforts to delay divorces.

(34) It makes a very sad commentary on the administrators of a

Welfare State, that the concerned wife should be required to

oppose the divorce in spite of irretrievable grounds and prefer

to continue to live in a miserable condition because there is

none to help her to nullify the likely hardships (Mainly

Financial). Though these days, there may be some wives who

might be misusing the laws to their advantage, by and large it is

the husbands who are blameworthy and hence we must orient

our actions keeping only this aspect in view. The Welfare State

must be the first to go to the help of the aggrieved wife instead

of providing this power to her to oppose to remain forever in

the miserable condition.

(35) When a case comes to the stage of the court of law, there is

already a break in the relationship by way of the place of

residence and the consequential financial hardship has already

started on the part of the wife and the children if they have gone

with their mother. This necessarily needs immediate and urgent

attention of the court.

(36) Let the divorce be granted immediately on the filing of the case

but if the wrong doer is not so severely punished that other

prospective wrong doers must shudder in their hearts even at

the very thought of doing anything wrong to anybody, then this

provision will be misused by unscrupulous people. So, the

mutual consent needs to be dissected thoroughly.

(37) The Bill is just another gender biased law open to massive

misuse. This Bill does not care that a child would be forced to

be brought up in a broken family, and a father would not have

any legal right, even to save his own marriage, under this Bill,

even for the sake of his own child.

(39) Providing the wife with all the control in a divorce case will

only help in alienating father from their children.

(40) The Bill essentially grants freedom and happiness to wives

through a divorce but is totally silent on how the false and

frivolous cases that are filed by wives be dealt with, even when

the wife gets the divorce and happily remarries.

(41) There would be cases where the husband is all wiling to save

his marriage, so that his child can have both the parents, but

under the present format of the Bill, the husband will not have

any legal remedy to save his own marriage, even for the sake of

his own child.

(44) A Gender neutral shared child custody and parenting law must

be drafted and implemented nationwide before this Marriage

Laws Amendment Bill is even contemplated. The repercussion

of the amendments of this will be that after the quick divorce

the wife will have little interest in even attending court hearings

thereby alienating the child forever from the hapless father.

Alternately a separate section can be inserted explicitly stating

that child custody cases must be resolved to the satisfaction of

both the parties before divorce is granted.

(45) Provide a clear and objective definition of "Financial Hardship"

so that this term is not interpreted in a wrong way and divorces

are not sold by wives. All other maintenance cases filed by the

wife, like Section 24, CrPC 125, Domestic Violence etc.,

should not be allowed to continue, blocking the judicial

dockets, as the relief sought in all of them, will also be

available in this Bill.

(46) Create objective parameters for calculating financial assistance

like tenure of the marriage and relative sacrifice made by the

parties in the marriage.

(47) Reduce separation period from 3 years to 1 year under Section

13C - Petition for divorce only after 1 year of marriage.

(48) Include condition of closing child custody litigation before

granting divorce under Section 13C, so that rights of child to

seek the involvement of both the parents are not taken away

from it.

(49) The proposed Bill totally ignores the Law Commission's 71st

report and gives no reasonable justification of choosing the

period of separation as 3 years instead of 5 years as suggested

by Law Commission's 71st report. It is extremely unfortunate

that it seems that such a Bill and a clause has been hurriedly

introduced, without any public debate.

(50) This Bill would be widely misused as the husband will be

forced to 'buy' a divorce, while the wife can choose to walk out,

at her whims and fancies. Moreover this Bill totally excludes

the possibility that the husband can also face financial hardship.

The current concept of gender neutrality like that of Section 24

of the Hindu Marriage Act which takes into consideration that

both, the husband and the wife can face financial hardship has

been totally ignored in this Bill.

(51) The Government is forcing a Divorce on an unwilling husband

just because the wife want it and thus the husbands will have

absolutely no legal remedy, relief or right, even to oppose the

same, even for the sake of his children.

(52) This Bill is totally unconstitutional and it takes away all the

rights of the husband, even to defend himself or even to save

his own marriage. A wife would stay away from the husband

and would automatically get a divorce by default after 3 years,

without any fault of the husband who would also have no right

or say altogether, or even have any right to defend him.

(53) Interestingly, this Bill is totally silent on the rampant misuse of

498A. At present, under Mutual Divorce format, the wife goes

for quashing of all cases before grant of divorce, under mutual

consent. However as per the present format of this Bill, the

498A cases would continue for years on. Thus the Bill should

have a provision to quash cases between the parties before grant

of divorce under 13C as it happens presently.

(54) That special provision should be made in the Marriage Laws

(Amendment) Bill, 2010, to ensure that both spouses may

oppose the grant of a decree on the ground that the dissolution

of the marriage will result in grave financial hardship to them

and that it would in all the circumstances be wrong to dissolve

the marriage, with the amount of financial hardship, being

decided by the Court, based on the merits of the case.

(55) It is suggested that the father must be assigned the care and

custody of child(s) where the mother has been proved unable to

maintain them, is of a dubious behavior, has lost her rapport in

society on the basis of a corroborated evidence and facts.

(56) "Irretrievable Breakdown" should be spelt out clearly and may

include the following:-

  • • That the respondent has behaved in such a way that the

petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the

respondent;

  • • That the respondent has deserted the petitioner for a

continuous period of at least three years immediately

preceding the presentation of the petition;

  • • That the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a

continuous period of at least two years immediately

preceding the presentation of the petition.

  • • That no reasonable probability remains of the spouses again

living together as husband or wife for mutual comfort and

support.

(57) Where the petition is based on the "living apart" facts, the court

may refuse to pass a decree if the dissolution of the marriage

will result in "grave financial or other hardship to the

respondent" and that "it would in all the circumstances be

wrong to dissolve the marriage."

(58) A decree of divorce may be refused if the court feels that there

is a reasonable likelihood of resumption of cohabitation.

(59) Introducing irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a ground for

divorce in the Hindu Marriage Act and the Special Marriage

Act at this time, would cause irreparable harm to women

because of the absence of any laws governing division of

matrimonial property. A woman's negotiating power and her

rights to her matrimonial property would be severely diluted.

As such provisions for safeguarding economic security for

women will have to be built into the proposed legislation.

(60) The proposed Bill only speaks of maintenance to children and

is silent on the issue relating to division of property.

(63) In such situations where the woman is vulnerable, we expect

that the courts would refrain from granting an ex parte decree.

(64) 'Irretrievable breakdown of marriage' as a ground for divorce in

a marriage and the power given to the wife in such a situation

should be applicable to all religious and not specifically Hindu.

(65) All grants by the Government, whether in terms of land or

housing, should be in the name of both the spouses.

(66) Quashing all cases between the husband and wife while

granting divorces under Irretrievable Breakdown Marriage,

would immediately reduce the crore of pending cases in courts

and will provide relief to crores of aged mothers and sisters

condemned to a lifetime of judicial apathy in Indian courts due

the Indian gender laws.

(67) Reconsider the stipulated time period of three years of 'living

apart' to a lesser duration keeping in mind the objective to

mitigate the ordeal for an estranged couple.

(68) Include 'living in the same household' as 'living apart'. This will

ensure that facts and circumstances typical to each case will be

given adequate space and consideration.

(69) For divorce on irretrievable breakdown of marriage or divorce

on any other ground, introduce as a precondition in the law,

distribution of marital assets based on 'community of property’.

CHAPTER-III

Deliberations of the Committee

The Committee heard the presentation of the Secretary, Legislative

Department of the Ministry of Law and Justice on the Bill on 17th

September, 2010 and recorded the views of Secretary, Ministry of Women

and Child Development during its meeting held on 28th September, 2010 on

the Bill. Apart from it, the Committee received inputs from the non-official

witnesses namely National commission for women and some

NGOs/individuals during its meetings on the 11th and 16th November, 2010

in Delhi.

Legislative Department (Ministry of law and Justice)

2. The Committee heard the Secretary, Legislative Department of the

Ministry of Law and Justice on 17th September, 2010. The Secretary while

giving an extensive power-point presentation on the Bill apprised the

Committee of the circumstances that necessitated the introduction of the Bill

and also the various provisions of the Bill. The Secretary, Legislative

Department assured the Committee that provisions of right to wife to oppose

the divorce on the ground of financial hardships and provisions regarding the

maintenance to children have been incorporated in the proposed Bill to

safeguard the interests of women and children while introducing

irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a new ground for granting the

divorce.

Ministry of Women and Child Development

3. The Committee heard the views of Secretary, Ministry of Women and

Child Development during its meeting on 28th September, 2010. The

Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development apprised the

Committee that the Ministry supports the Bill as it finds that inclusion of

irretrievable breakdown of Marriage as a new ground for divorce is a

facilitative provision in cases where the Marriage between the parties has

broken down irretrievably and completely and prevent the multiplicity of

litigations.

4. However, the Secretary indicated some issues that need to be

addressed if the rights of women and children are to be protected after the

enactment of Bill. The issues are;

  • • The proposed Bill cast a greater responsibility on the courts

particularly in case of the interpretation the situation of

"irretrievable breakdown". Thus Courts have to exercise care and

caution in cases where they feel that the husband has deserted or

abandoned the wife and filed a petition under this section after

living separately for three years.

  • • In situation where the woman is vulnerable the courts should

refrain from granting ex-parte decree.

  • • The provision of section 13(E) of the proposed Bill should be

interpreted as or an express 'inclusion' may be made in the

provision to include the children adopted by the parties to the

marriage.

  • • The waiting period of six months after the presentation of a

petition for grant of divorce should not be abolished because it

provides the parties the time to change their mind vis a vis the

petition of divorce.

Non-Official Witnesses:

5. Given the wider legal and social implications of the Bill, the

Committee decided to consider the views of all stakeholders on the Bill. For

the purpose, the Committee invited some individuals/organizations to appear

before the Committee for tendering oral evidence. The Committee heard

the following non-official witnesses (Individuals/Organizations) :-

  • • National Commission for Women
  • • MAJLIS, Center for Women's Rights Discourse & Legal Initiative
  • • Gender Human Rights Society
  • • Lawyers Collective Women's Rights Initiative
  • • Mothers and Sisters Initiative
  • • All India Democratic Women's Association
  • • Save Family Foundation
  • • Children's Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP)
  • • Shri. SR Abrol, a concerned individual.

6. Committee's deliberations with the above-mentioned

organizations/individuals witnessed divergent opinions on the provisions of

the Bill and other maters associated with the matrimonial disputes. The

issues that emerged during the Committees' interaction with them may be

categorized under the following points;

On the Bill

 

 



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