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Bill to make marriage laws more women-friendly shelved

The government on Friday indicated that it has put in cold storage a Bill to make marriage laws more women-friendly and allow both parties to file for divorce on the ground of “irretrievable breakdown” of marriage.

In a written response, Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda informed the Rajya Sabha that “at present, there is no proposal to bring any legislation in this regard”. 

He was asked whether the government intends to reintroduce the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to include ‘irretrievatable breakdown of marriage’ as a ground for divorce.

Earlier, Law Ministry officials had said that they had received numerous representations from people and organisations, opposing the provisions of the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill.

The Ministry had circulated a draft cabinet note on the Bill for inter-ministerial consultations in September 2014. But based on the representations, the ministry had decided to examine the matter further before taking the final call.

The Bill was earlier brought by the UPA government. It had struggled for a consensus on the Bill after it was first introduced in Rajya Sabha in 2010. It was referred to the Union Cabinet on four occasions for changes. It was finally passed in August 2013 in the Upper House, but could not be cleared by the Lower House. It lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2014.

According to the draft, marriage laws will become more women-friendly with a slew of measures being proposed, including providing for sufficient compensation for the wife and children from the husband’s immovable property in case of a divorce.

Seeking to put an end to prolonged legal battles in divorce cases, the ministry had proposed that courts will be free to exercise discretion in granting divorce after three years if one of the partners does not move a second 'joint application' for divorce with mutual consent. There is a provision for ensuring compensation for the wife and children from the husband's immovable property in case of a divorce and the amount will be decided by the court.
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