Law Minister recently moved in the Upper House of Parliament Bill to amend the Hindu Marriage Act. Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill 2010 in provision relating to divorce. Two major amendments are as follows:
- In Section 13B which provides for divorce by mutual consent in two consecutive motions, the requirement is that a couple, staying separately for at least one year, can file the first motion before District Judge and the second motion is 6 moths thereafter but before 18 months from the first motion. Since many a times one of the parties do not support the second motion, the remaining party has to then fight the battle through contested divorce than mutual. In the proposed amendment, the second motion has been done away with. Meaning thereby, divorce by mutual consent can be possible only by moving the first petition subject to the Judge finding everything OK.
- Second amendment is insertion of Section 13C incorporating irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a new ground for divorce. This clause is missing in the Act so far. The newly inserted provision though has a multi tier process for a District Judge to go through before declaring the wedding as broken down irretrievably.
Furthermore, the wife, in such a petition of the husband, can challenge it on the ground of financial hardship for herself, and of children if any. The District Judge has a discretion to dismiss the petition of the husband then or make sure that the husband makes arrangement for the wife, and children if any.
Logic of including such alimony apart, biggest worry I find in this newly inserted ground is that a couple need to have lived separately for at least three years before approaching the District Judge for a decree of divorce.
Imagine a situation where a guy is 27 years of age at the time of marriage. After 2 years, marriage seems to have broken down irretrievably.
Age is now 29.
Couple have to live separately for the next three years. At 32, he approaches the Court for a decree of divorce. Now if the wife wants to contest the matter, the Judge will take Her own time and allowing or rejecting husband’s petition. Add couple of years. At 35 divorce is final, guy wanted the divorce at 29. At 35, his chances of settling down are poor. Same maths goes for the wife as well.
Lets see how the law finally turns out at the ground level. Times of India reports that the law is women friendly and wife shall get a share in the property of the husband. Such reporting, though which required a lot of research, itself is sufficient to make Govt realize that the law should be seen as non partisan. Already matrimonial laws are so skewed in favour of females that it is a constant risk of property and of personal liberty of the husband and his family who get dragged into uncalled for litigation and harassment more often than not.
Though my reading of the Bill does not concur with the Times headline. Anyway, I do read The Hindu since I was a kid. That said, the Bill talks about making financial arrangement for the wife and the kids, if there is any. The so called reference to share in husband’s property is something I could not find and would request Times only to assist me.
Through this post, I’m not advising that couple should start getting divorces at the drop of a hat. But when two adults decide they cannot live with each other, why to present a situation before them which makes it worse than ever for them to seek a remedy?