Rajya Sabha approves bill to make divorce friendly for women

Marriage

Rajya Sabha approved a proposal to make divorce friendly for women as it provides for the wife getting share in the husband's immovable property after "irretrievable breakdown" of marriage.

The Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill seeks to empower the courts to decide the compensation amount from the husband's inherited and inheritable property for the wife and children once the marriage legally ends.

The Bill allows both parties to file for divorce on the ground of "irretrievable breakdown" of marriage. Both parties have to live apart for at least three years before filing for such a petition.

Provisions have been made to restrict grant of a decree of divorce on ground of "irretrievable breakdown" of marriage if the court is satisfied that adequate provision for maintenance of children has not been made consistently with financial capacity of the parties to the marriage.

Also, the wife has the right to oppose the grant of a divorce on the ground that the dissolution could result in grave financial hardship.

Replying to a debate on the bill, Law Minister Kapil Sibal said it is a "a historic peace of legislation" in a patriarchal society like India where women, who constitute 50 per cent of the population, own only two per cent of the assets.

He said the divorce is "gender neutral" as either the wife or the husband can seek divorce. However, the right over property will not be gender neutral as wife can lay claim on husband's immovable property.

The Bill also provides that a court can take an ex parte decision on granting divorce if one of the two parties refuse to move a joint application.

As per the existing laws, the parties have to move a motion jointly between 6 and 18 months in case of divorce on grounds of mutual consent.

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