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Roll back unconstitutional sections in Amendments to marriage laws.

If you are an Indian who is proud of Indian family system, then you should oppose the proposed amendments to Hindu Marriage Act and Special Marriage Act. These provisions aim to create aneasy to order, no-fault divorce regime in India just like in the Western countries, whereby either husband or wife can initiate and get divorce after living separately for 3 years. The other spouse will not be able to oppose the divorce per se, so a divorce will be forced and can’t be stopped.

What will be the possible dangers if this bill is passed?

1. It will bring in a no-fault divorce regime in India under the garb of innocent sounding phraseIrretrievable breakdown of marriage. No-fault divorces were introduced in Western nations in 1970s where either spouse can ask for divorce and it can not be contested by other spouse. The experience in Western nations is a high divorce rate following introduction of no-fault divorce laws, with results that 50% of first marriages and 75% of second marriages result in divorce there. Subsequently rate of marriage itself has gone down drastically in the West since young people there do not feel that the laws help to create safety and certainty in a married relationship. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

2. 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 same is the experience in the West where divorces are a multi-billion industry with divorces creating ‘revenues’ exceeding $50 billions, even more than revenues of Hollywood film industry!Do we really need to follow in their footsteps and create a divorce industry in India bigger in size than Bollywood film industry?

3. 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 simply because a spouse wants it to end.

Here are the other major flaws in the proposed Marriage Laws Amendment (2010) bill being re-introduced in Winter session of parliament starting on November 24th, 2014.

  1. 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)

  2. As the law is drafted, a woman is supposed to get compensation by way of division of husband’s immovable and movable property even if she initiates the divorce. She does not need to prove any fault of husband to get the supposed compensation and of course divorce itself.

  3. The proposed bill makes a mockery of the equal rights of spouses in a marriage. It makes apresumption 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.

  4. A fundamental flaw in the bill is not considering the commitment of spouses to marriagewhich 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.

  5. 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.

  6. With changes done to Hindu Succession Act in 2005, daughters are given the same right in joint family property as coparceners and they are in a position to exercise their right even by demanding a partition. So creating rights in husband property in favour of wives immediately upon marriage does not seem a justifiable decision.

Join me in stopping this ill-thought law which seem to be driven by desire of blind aping of the West. If you are a proud Indian, join me in asking PM Narendra Modi, to stop introduction of this law in parliament.

This petition was delivered to:
  • Sadananda Gowda - Law minister of India
  • Amit Shah - BJP National President
  • Narendra Modi - Prime minister of India

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