Controversial Marriage Laws Bill referred to GoM

The controversial Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill was on Wednesday referred to a Group of Ministers after differences cropped up over clauses dealing with women's right to marital property in case of divorce.

The Union Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, deliberated at length on the proposed legislation but failed to arrive at a consensus and the matter was then referred to a GoM.

The Law Ministry had suggested that women be given a share in residential property of the husband, including inherited and inheritable premises, in case of divorce.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development has suggested that  women's right to inheritable property and property acquired by husbands before marriage be kept out of the purview of the law.

The ministers discussed the amendments for over two hours during the meeting of the Cabinet.

"When thinking men and women present different opinions, different opinions do not mean difference of opinion," Finance Minister P Chidambaram said when asked whether the Cabinet was split on the matter.

"Views are expressed in a Cabinet and after expressing views, the Prime Minister takes the final decision. In this case the matter has been referred to a Group of Ministers to look at one or two clauses of the Bill," he said.

The GoM would examine the clauses over the next few days and the Bill will come back before the Cabinet, he said.

Even as the Cabinet was discussing the matter, a small group of protestors shouted slogans against the Bill outside the Prime Minister's official residence. They were rounded up by the police and taken away from the high security zone.

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