Cabinet approves woman-friendly marriage laws

Cabinet approves woman-friendly marriage laws

The government Wednesday approved recommendations of a Group of Ministers (GoM) to make marriage laws more woman friendly, including providing for compensation to a woman from her husband's ancestral property in the case of divorce - which had been a major sticking point earlier.

The recommendations of the GoM, headed by Defence Minister A.K. Antony, on Marriage Laws (Amendment Bill) was accepted by the cabinet.

In May, the controversial Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill was referred to a GoM after differences cropped up over clauses dealing with a woman's right to marital property in case of divorce.

The union cabinet during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had then failed to arrive at a consensus and had referred the matter to a GoM.

The law ministry had suggested that a woman be given a share of the residential property of the husband, including inherited and inheritable premises, in case of divorce. But the woman and child development ministry had suggested that the property inherited by the husband prior to marriage be kept out of purview of the law.

The GoM was asked to decide whether a court can work out "sufficient compensation" for a woman from her husband's ancestral property in case of divorce on the grounds of "irretrievable breakdown of marriage".

The bill has a provision for share in a husband's self-acquired property. A new clause was discussed by the GoM according to which, if the ancestral property cannot be divided then the woman should be given sufficient compensation by calculating the husband's share in it.

The GoM also discussed allowing courts to decide on doing away with the mandatory six-month waiting period for couples seeking divorce through a joint petition by mutual consent.

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