According to latest news, the marriage amendment (2010) bill which was passed during UPA regime in 2013 in Rajya Sabha is now being resurrected and hurriedly being re-introduced in Winter session of Parliament starting on 24th Nov 2014. The bill allows wife to get divorce and also lay a claim on on dear husband’s property after merely staying separately for 3 years.
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The bill in its various forms: originally proposed 2010 version, and the 2013 version passed by Rajya Sabha is available below:
There is fundamental flaw in the bill that it brings in a no-fault divorce regime in the name of irretrievable breakdown of marriage. The experience in Western nations is a high divorce rate following introduction of no-fault divorces, and subsequently marriage rate going down since married relationship is no longer considered a safe state by men. Many couples in Western countries choose not to register their relationship as marriage but as civil unions.
The bill if passed will further a divorce industry which stands to benefit from increasing divorces rather than from stable marriages and intact families. It is a foregone conclusion that if incentives are given towards a certain behaviour, then that behaviour will increase in society.
The bill makes a presumption that husband always has more assets/wealth whereas the wife has none. In divorce laws of most countries, the division of matrimonial assets is done based on equitable grounds based on length of marriage and contribution by spouses to joint matrimonial assets. The proposed bill however assumes that it is the wife only who can suffer financial hardship and therefore provides for division in her favour of husband’s immovable and movable property but not the other way round.
A fundamental flaw in the bill is not considering the commitment of spouses to marriage which makes it a no-fault divorce bill. A woman can get married today, file for divorce tomorrow, and be eligible after 3 years to get both divorce and assets both immovable and movable from husband’s assets.
The bill ignores that 85% of divorces in India are initiated by women. If the bill was being passed to empower women, the evidence is sorely lacking. (source: http://www.tehelka.com/story_main43.asp?filename=hub311009the_rearranged.asp)
The married men of working age are expected to undertake financial obligations of whole family which in Indian context means their parents and even dependent brothers and sisters. But the proposed amendments ignores the rights of husband’s parents and siblings and is solely concerned with giving property rights to women at time of divorce irrespective of duration of marriage. While giving so called ‘compensation’ to wife for filing divorce, the court is bound to take into account the value of inherited or inheritable property of the husband, which goes against the divorce laws followed in most countries consider only matrimonial property as fit for division. There is no mention of the fact that a husband may have responsibility to look after aged dependent parents which is assumed to not exist at all.
The proposed law goes against the notion of a Hindu marriage being a sacrament rather than an arrangement of convenience, which can be dissolved upon change of circumstances or just because a spouse wants it to end.