Panel opposes doing away with waiting period before divorce
|Supporting a proposed bill which seeks to make ”irretrievable breakdown of marriage” a new ground for grant of divorce, a Parliamentary panel today opposed doing away with the prevailing waiting period before moving a joint motion for annulling 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.