The Centre’s decision to approve the amendment to the Hindu Marriage Act by introducing ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage’ as a ground for divorce has not gone down well with women’s groups.
NGOs have called the Bill an attempt to introduce one-sided divorce in the Hindu Marriage Act and Special Marriage Act.
Organisations such as Majlis, All India Democratic Women’s Association, Centre for Women’s Development Studies and Young Women’s Christian Association wrote to Congress MP Milind Deora saying, “A discussion on women’s rights to matrimonial property should go on alongside the discussion on irretrievable breakdown of marriage so that safeguards for women can be built into the provision.”
The NGOs fear men could misuse the amendment to abandon their wives. The letter said often husbands file for divorce on grounds of cruelty, adultery or desertion. Aware that proving these in court is difficult, men opt for a lump sum settlement with their wives. “Introducing the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage will take away this negotiating power from women,” the letter said.
Deora has forwarded the letter to Minister of Law and Justice M. Veerappa Moily saying these groups be given a hearing before the Bill is passed. “I have requested the Law ministry to meet members of Majlis and take into account all concerns regarding the issues,” Deora said. The Bill is likely to be placed in Parliament in the next session.