Safeguard women's rights: Committee on marriage laws

Amendments being brought to marriage laws to introduce "irretrievable breakdown of marriage" as grounds for divorce


Sweta Ranjan | April 7, 2011

The parliamentary committee on personal, public grievances, law and justice on Wednesday pitched for an effective legal mechanism to provide women their share in the matrimonial property, acquired during the subsistence of marriage before the divorce. The recommendation was put forward while examining the marriage law amendment bill which proposes divorce on the basis of “irretrievable breakdown” of marriage.

The standing committee, headed by Congress leader and MP Jayanthi Natarajan has examined the marriage laws (amendment) bill, 2010 and favoured introduction of ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage’ as the new ground for grant of a decree of divorce.

The committee is not in favour of doing away with the waiting period of 6 months before moving a joint motion in case of divorce by mutual consent as proposed in the bill. It said that the existing provisions of law for divorce by mutual consent are fair and reasonable and the prevailing cooling off period be retained so as to protect and preserve the institution of marriage.  Natrajan said, “We have proposed to retain the six months waiting period before divorce as it would be in the betterment of the society to give at least six months time to the couple to reconcile”.

To set unvarying principles, said Natrajan, the government might attempt defining the term “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” in the bill and also keep away from  vagueness the term “grave financial hardship” as mentioned in the bill. The committee favours the broad objective of the bill, i.e., introduction of ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage’ as a new ground for grant of a decree of divorce.

“The committee also discussed extensively on the subject in regard to the adopted children. It was also recommended that the effective legal mechanism should be in place to ensure that women get their share of matrimonial property acquired during the existence of marriage as they do a lot of unpaid work at home,” said Natrajan.

In view of the recommendations made by the committee, the government may reconsider the various clauses of the bill and a revised comprehensive bill be brought forth.

The bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on August 4, 2010 and referred by the chairman to the committee on August 23. 

It also intends to bring changes in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and Section 28 C in the Special Marriage Act,1954, to ensure adequate maintenance to children born out of the marriage before granting divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage.



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