Hope of share in inherited assets for wife

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  • Published 18.07.13

New Delhi, July 17: A woman will be able to claim a share in her husband’s inherited property in case of a divorce, if changes cleared by the cabinet today are approved into law.

The cabinet this evening cleared amendments to the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010. Accepting the recommendations of a group of ministers, it approved a provision ensuring compensation for the wife and children from the immovable property of the husband in case of a divorce, with the amount to be decided by the court.

It also proposed to empower the courts to decide the compensation amount from the husband’s inherited and inheritable property for the wife and children once the marriage legally ends. A new section, 13 (f), has been added to this effect.

There had been disagreement over whether a woman should have right over property acquired by her husband after marriage only or over his inherited property too.

The cabinet approved another proposal to give a woman the right to oppose her husband’s plea for divorce under a new “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” clause. The husband has not been given any such right.

A proposal to provide for a quick no-fault divorce after three years of separation was also approved. The proposal allows courts to exercise discretion in granting divorce after three years if one partner does not move a second “joint application” for divorce with mutual consent.

The amendment bill was referred to a group of ministers headed by A.K. Antony in May after differences between the law and women and child development ministries.

This is the fourth time the bill, which seeks to alter the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and the Special Marriage Act, 1954, has been passed by the cabinet.

Men’s rights groups have opposed the amendment bill, saying its provisions make marriage the “sole responsibility and burden” of a man.

“In a country where we are talking of gender neutrality and progressive laws, it is sad that we are on the brink of passing an extremely regressive law which, under the guise of financial security to a woman, seeks to jeopardise the social security of a man and does not cater to the social security of a man,” said Rajesh Vakharia, the founding member of Save India Family Foundation, a men’s rights organisation.

“I feel that social security, which comprises financial security as well, cannot be the burden of a single individual. Rather it’s the responsibility of society to provide measures of social security to its men and women in their old age,” he said.