Panel opposes doing away with waiting period before divorce

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 21:13

New Delhi: Supporting a proposed bill
which seeks to make "irretrievable breakdown of marriage" a
new ground for grant of divorce, a Parliamentary panel on Tuesday
opposed doing away with the prevailing waiting period before
moving a joint motion for anulling marriage.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and
Justice which presented its report in Parliament on the
Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010, said it favoured the
broad objective of the Bill to introduce `irretrievable
breakdown of marriage` as a new ground for grant of a decree
of divorce.

At the same time, the Committee, headed by Jayanthi
Natarajan (Congress) - said it is not in favour of "doing
away" with the waiting period of six months before moving a
joint motion in case of divorce by mutual consent as proposed
in the Law Ministry Bill.

"The Committee is of the view 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,"
the report said.

The Rajya Sabha Committee has also recommended that
the Government should define the term `irretrievable breakdown
of marriage` in the Bill so that some uniform standards are
followed in dealing with divorce petitions by the courts.

It has also asked defining of the term `grave
financial hardship` to "avoid ambiguity".

It also urged the government to clear its stand with
regard to the adopted children as mentioned in the Bill which
was introduced in the Upper House in August, 2010.

If the government accepts the recommendations, it will
have to redraft the proposed legislation.

The Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, moved by law
minister M Veerappa Moily, aims at mitigating hardships by
allowing divorce in cases of complete failure of marriages.

At present, the petition for a divorce on the ground
of mutual consent could be presented by the spouses together
before the court under the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 and the
Special Marriage Act 1954.

While both parties have to move a motion jointly
before the court between six and 18 months of the original
petition, it has been observed in several cases that one of
them does not turn up.

This leaves parties desirous of obtaining decree of
divorce hapless and remediless. In order to mitigate such
hardships and to allow divorce in cases of complete failure of
such marriages, the bill seeks to amend the Hindu Marriage Act
and the Special Marriage Act.

The condition of moving the motion before the court
subsequent to the first petition would be done away with, it
said.

However, in case the wife happens to be the respondent
to the petition, she is entitled to oppose it on the ground
that the dissolution of marriage would result in grave
financial hardship to her.

Similarly, a provision has been made to restrict grant
of divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of
marriage if the court is satisfied that adequate provision for
maintenance of children has not been made.

The amendment bill has been prepared on the
recommendations of the Law Commission as well as the Supreme
Court.

The clause of irretrievable breakdown of marriage will
be in addition to the existing grounds for divorce.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 21:13

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