Govt to review amended Divorce Bill after objections from the Opposition
-The Economic Times
Objections by the Opposition and even treasury benches to the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill - which seeks to make divorce easier - has forced the government to review the legislation.
The government appears set to accept the demand for a cooling off period before divorce. It will now be left to the discretion of the judge to determine the time between the petition and granting of divorce. The government appears to be amenable to incorporating suggestions made by opposition leader of Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley on the issue of compensation and maintenance.
Jaitley had made it clear that without providing for a proper financial backbone, the no-fault divorce that the Bill proposes to allow would result in creating unusual hardships for women as it would make them permanently dependent.
BSP, SP, BJD and TDP favoured the idea of referring the bill to a select committee. At one point, the law minister appeared to consider the idea before opting to review the bill. Law minister Salman Khurshid said that discussions with Jaitley was underway to work out changes to be made to the bill.
During discussion, which resumed on Wednesday, members from across the political spectrum argued that the proposed amendments would hurt the interests of women as it doesn't address the issue of compensation and maintenance. There was a widespread demand from members to retain the cooling off period of six months before the divorce decree is granted.
CPM member Tapan Kumar Sen opposed the bill in its present form and said it was a "reflection of a biased mindset" against weaker sections of society. "It would be discriminatory to relax conditions for grant of divorce in marriage...Women are not considered equals in society...Our law does not view women as equal partners in marriage," he said.
The Left leader stressed that laws relating to maintenance must be strengthened and women should get equal rights in property. "There should be special arrangement so that women facing divorce should not suffer due to legal hazards," he said. MP Achuthan was off the view that waiving the cooling period could be widely misused and wives should be compensated with 50% property.
Even Congress MP Shadi Lal Batra was of the view that more deliberations were required on issues like fixing alimony. Congress' Saifuddin Soz questioned the idea of "irretrievable breakdown" as grounds for divorce. He suggested that divorce must not be granted to defaulters, who stood to benefit from it and sought to plug this loophole.