Proposed law on matrimonial property for women opposed

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The state minorities department has objected to a proposed law seeking to make married women in Maharashtra equal partners in their husband's property stating that the draft Bill would hurt the sentiments of the Muslim community and also contravene the existing legislation on Muslim women's rights.

Following a meeting with Minorities Development Minister Naseem Khan, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has reportedly directed that the provisions of the under-draft Matrimonial Property (Rights of Women Upon Marriage) Bill be examined carefully and vetted by the Minorities Development Department before it is presented to the Cabinet.

According to an early draft of the proposed Bill, women's economic rights would be secured by giving them an equal share in matrimonial property, which would include all self-acquired moveable and immoveable property, the husband's share of a family business, agricultural land and even contribution to provident fund, pension and gratuity during the subsistence of the marriage. Under the Bill, the wife's consent would be required for any transaction relating to this matrimonial property. In the eventuality of a divorce and division of property, the woman would be entitled to half the propery, the Bill proposes.

In a letter to the chief minister, Khan has written that apart from the Shariat laws and the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939, the Rajiv Gandhi government passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act in 1986, which is applicable to Muslimwomen across the country.Hestated that under these laws and under the Shariat, married and divorced Muslim women have various rights and care must be taken not to create any contravention in these religious laws.

It was amid a nationwide debate on Muslim personal law following the Shah Bano judgment in which the Supreme Court had ruled that she should be given maintenance that the 1986 law was passed, after a marathon session of Parliament.

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